Stony Brook University Hospital receives Health Care Equity Certification from The Joint Commission

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is among the first eight hospitals in the United States to attain the Health Care Equity Certification from The Joint Commission and the only awarded organization on Long Island.

This advanced certification from The Joint Commission is recognized nationally as The Gold Seal of Approval® in healthcare equity. It identifies Stony Brook as a top hospital in meeting specific and targeted standards that support patient and staff belongingness and engagement.

“At Stony Brook Medicine, fostering health equity is a core mission, and we do it by embracing diversity, addressing health disparities, incorporating inclusive educational initiatives, engaging with communities and promoting a culture of equality,” said William Wertheim, MD, MBA, Interim Executive Vice President for Stony Brook Medicine. “Healthcare equity is not only an issue of social justice, but a fundamental issue of patient safety, quality of care and inclusive workplace culture.”

Carol Gomes, Chief Executive Officer of Stony Brook University Hospital, expressed, “At Stony Brook Medicine, we have always committed to creating a healthcare culture where everyone who walks through our doors feels safe, respected, valued and heard.”

“Although we may be referring to it by a new name, health equity is not new to Stony Brook. For decades, we’ve developed programs and offered services to help patients who have encountered barriers to care. Our goal is to improve health outcomes for our patients and community by strengthening and sustaining our efforts to eliminate healthcare disparities rooted in historical injustices, biases and discrimination,” Gomes stated.

The Joint Commission’s Health Care Equity Certification was first announced in July 2023, after the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to national healthcare disparities. In preparation for the process, Stony Brook Medicine formed a Health Equity Steering Committee, co-chaired by Chief Patient Experience Officer Nicole Rossol and Dr. Judith Brown Clarke, Stony Brook University’s Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer.

The organization then established four subcommittees focusing on key priorities, including:

  • Data-Driven Care Delivery
  • Training and the Culture of Learning
  • Community Partnerships
  • Diversity, Inclusion, Leadership and Governance

The subcommittees worked together to address specific goals associated with health equity, diversity and inclusion.

The Commission’s certification process involved an audit of the hospital’s daily operations and systems through the lens of health equity, and an on-site survey and thorough review to validate continuous improvement efforts.

On February 1, The Joint Commission surveyor evaluated SBUH compliance with health equity standards. “The surveyor was impressed by our sense of institutional commitment and the compassion of our staff,” Gomes explained. “He shared that the actions and behaviors of hospital faculty and staff showed their obvious passion for their work and health care equity, and that he never felt such a sense of belonging within an institution.” 

Praiseworthy recognition was given to SBUH for implementing exemplary practices, such as employing health equity screening and data collection tools, documenting social work effectively, making accommodations to meet the needs of patients with disabilities, ensuring the presence of in-person interpreters and providing video interpretations through the Patient Education Library.

Additionally, Stony Brook’s many innovative community programs were recognized, including the Mobile Mammography Van and Mobile Dental Clinic, Stony Brook HOME (Health Outreach and Medical Education) — a free student-run and physician-supervised medical clinic that provides comprehensive primary care to uninsured adults on Long Island — and the Stony Brook Heights Rooftop Farm and Food Farmacy, which supply approximately 1,500 pounds of fresh produce for patients meal trays and local charities, playing a crucial role in addressing the social determinants of health-related food insecurity.

All Stony Brook Medicine hospitals have also been named national leaders in LGBTQ+ healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and recently, the Renaissance School of Medicine established the first-ever Long Island chapter of Black Men in White Coats™, which seeks to raise the number of Black men in the field of medicine through exposure, inspiration and mentorship.

To learn more about Stony Brook’s commitment to advancing health equity, visit the Health Equity website.

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