“You do not have to be a public health expert to hold your local hospital accountable to the community it serves.”
— Faith Daniel, MPH
Download the “You Have a Say” toolkit here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2023
Contact: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, firstname.lastname@example.org
BOSTON, MA — Over the last 20 years, thousands of hospital consolidations have reduced access to vital health services for people across the country, and yet community voice and perspective are often left out of the decision-making process. To help build power, Community Catalyst has published an action toolkit to give individuals and community groups tools to organize and make their voices heard amongst those in positions of power — hospital executives, policymakers, and state regulators — that are responsible with reviewing and approving proposed consolidations yet rarely seek community perspective and voice.
The process of hospital mergers, downsizings and/or closures that eliminate services, are often driven by shadowy private equity firms, profit driven decision making or religious health systems imposing refusal policies that are undermining health equity in communities. Those harmed most already face barriers to care due to racism, classism and other forms of oppression. You Have a Say! An Action Toolkit for Communities Facing Hospital Consolidation is an actionable guide for people who are facing proposed changes in the health care services provided by their local hospital or health system, many of which have faced criticisms in recent years about whether communities are receiving community benefits equivalent to the value of the tax exemptions hospitals enjoy.
“You do not have to be a public health expert to hold your local hospital accountable to the community it serves. Asking common sense questions and being persistent can go a long way in achieving results,” said Faith Daniel, MPH, project manager for the Hospital Equity and Accountability Project at Community Catalyst. “When decisions about consolidation are made, the most important people – those whose care will be disrupted – are often not in the room. We’re giving people a roadmap to change that.”
The toolkit sets the stage for an alarming trend throughout the United States, where hospital executives are behaving as if they are running a private business with no responsibility to consult the communities that rely on their hospitals for care. It provides strategies on effective community-led organizing and needs assessments, coalition building, online forums, advocacy events, and more. It also offers four robust case studies on how these methods have been used in New York, where health care advocates have effectively organized within their communities to hold hospital executives accountable to their tax-exempt status with common sense policy and reforms.
“It can seem overwhelming or scary at first, but you just need to dive in and take the first steps,” explained Mark Hannay, a resident of Lower Manhattan who has been active in organizing to prevent the closing of Beth Israel Medical Center, which serves his neighborhood. “It’s essential that the community comes together early and speaks out for protecting local health care access. Otherwise, it doesn’t get on the radar screens of local media that inform the broader community of the situation or the politicians who could step in and do something.”
Community Catalyst, alongside a growing network of local, state and national partners, are working to ensure people are at the center of decisions that impact their health care, not profits. This report was made possible by generous support from the New York Health Foundation.
About Community Catalyst:
Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit http://www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth