WEST ORANGE, NJ — RWJBarnabas Health President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barry Ostrowsky, recently participated in developing a report that outlines a menu options for communities, hospitals and policymakers to ensure that vulnerable rural and urban communities have access to essential healthcare services

Ostrowsky, a member of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Task Force for Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities, is a strong advocate for New Jersey’s vulnerable communities and the AHA, a not-for-profit association of healthcare provider organizations and individuals.

“At RWJBarnabas Health, we recognize that each of the communities we serve is richly diverse—comprised of individuals of all ages from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities and religions,” said Ostrowsky. “By connecting with our communities, we have developed a deeper understanding of the issues and barriers causing health disparities on a local level.” 

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Ostrowsky added that RWJBarnabas also understands that specific ethnic and racial groups are “more prone to certain illnesses and diseases” and that many encounter language, cultural and socio-economic barriers. He said these barriers often make it more challenging to access appropriate health care.

The Task Force, of which Ostrowsky is a member, was created by the AHA Board of Trustees in recognition of the challenges facing vulnerable rural and urban communities and the need for new integrated and comprehensive health care delivery and payment strategies. In order to create the recently unveiled report, Ostrowsky and 28 other hospital and health-system leaders and state hospital association CEOs across the nation conducted meetings and hearings with policymakers and hospital and community leaders during a 15-month period.

“Many hospitals face challenges maintaining access to healthcare services in their communities and this report provides a pathway to ensure every hospital has an opportunity to be an access point and an anchor of service,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “The strategies outlined in this report can serve as a roadmap for all communities as hospitals begin to redefine how they provide more integrated care.”

The AHA Task Force report outlines nine emerging strategies, including: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health; Global budgets; Inpatient/Outpatient Transformation Strategy; Emergency Medical Center; Urgent Care Center; Virtual Care Strategies; Frontier Health System; Rural Hospital-Health Clinic Strategy; and Indian Health Services Strategies. New payment models will also be created to support the successful implementation of these strategies, according to a release by RWJBarnabas Health.

RWJBarnabas Health has many programs devoted specifically to the local communities, which enable care teams to provide culturally competent care to improve health and wellness and reduce health disparities.

According to a press release about the Task Force report, a wide range of highly specialized programs for RWJBarnabas Health’s populations includes specific programs for: the Latino, African American, Russian, Asian, Orthodox and Hindu communities. 

According to RWJBarnabas, the system is also committed to offering an inclusive, welcoming environment for all patients regardless of gender or sexual orientation and is a recognized leader in LGBT health care equality. 

“We provide a multitude of services for the disabled, and for those with physical or mental disparities,” the release stated.

In 2017, RWJBarnabas Health will provide details of a new “Social Impact and Community Investment Practice” to help support the more fragile communities, to avert illness and to make positive lifestyle choices. According to the release, this endeavor to elicit true change will take years to accomplish, but RWJBarnabas Health is committed to produce a positive change for the communities it serves.

The AHA Task Force report, with more detailed information on each strategy, case studies and a complete advocacy agenda and assistance strategy, is available at www.aha.org.

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