Long Island Group Focuses on Bias in Healthcare to Improve Patient Outcomes

Does bias affect her health care?

Raising awareness about implicit racial bias and unequal treatment.

Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy (formerly PULSE of NY), a community-based grassroots patient safety organization, has been addressing racial disparities in healthcare across Long Island and New York. And they do exist: according to healthcare accrediting organization The Joint Commission, "There is extensive evidence and research that finds unconscious biases can lead to differential treatment of patients by race, gender, weight, age, language, income and insurance status."

Founded in 1996, Pulse began listening to and sharing patients' stories of obstacles to safe care following the founder's year-long training in patient safety through the National Patient Safety Foundation/American Hospital Association.

We all have biases. If we acknowledge that, we can address it.

Ilene Corina, President, PULSE Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy

Pulse founder and president Ilene Corina found unequal treatment of people belonging to a wide range of groups — treatment that affected outcomes and was an obstacle to "patient-centered care." Today, Pulse has several programs that seek to remove those obstacles.

The Healthcare Equality Project

The Healthcare Equality Project gives patients an outlet to discuss some of the challenges that may be unique to the group they represent. People with HIV/AIDS found that the stigma was a heavy, stressful burden, and people who have lupus often are misdiagnosed. Those who are disabled, transgender, or Hispanic are also affected. Pulse finds the problem and addresses it using the information shared by the people representing each group.

Perceptions about race are also important. Pulse's ASK For Your Life Campaign was developed to raise awareness about implicit racial bias and unequal treatment, which has been studied and confirmed in public health research for decades. It creates and distributes workshops, videos, brochures and handouts to educate the Black community, patients, and families of patients, about the steps they can take to advocate for themselves and partner with their healthcare providers for better outcomes.

100,000 lives per year lost

"We all have biases," explains Pulse CPSEA's Ilene Corina. "If we acknowledge that, we can address it." Dr. Leslie Farrington, a retired African-American OB/GYN from Freeport, Long Island and board chair of Pulse, started the ASK For Your Life Campaign in 2016. Farrington says, "I always knew there were racial disparities, but it wasn't until I began studying the public health literature that I recognized the magnitude of the problem — 100,000 lives per year lost due to inequality."

There is a team of volunteers who are traveling Long Island to hold workshops empowering people of color to be active partners in their care. They are available to speak to groups about disparities in care and how all patients can address discrimination in healthcare settings. To contact the ASK for Your Life campaign or to request a workshop or become a volunteer, please contact: 516-579-4711 or icorina@pulsecenterforpatientsafety.org.

This program is made possible with a grant from the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund.

Source: Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy