January 26, 2023

CVS Health teams with WSU to improve health outcomes in underserved communities 

CVS Health today announced a new initiative that will address barriers to care in underserved communities across the country. The CVS Health Community Equity Alliance is being established to expand the community health worker workforce, enhance connections between health care institutions and communities and address disparities in heart health and mental health outcomes. The alliance is part of the company’s commitment to advancing health equity.

The first institutions joining the initiative are Wayne State University, Meharry Medical College and Sinai Chicago. CVS Health is providing funding to each institution for locally-tailored initiatives and will bring alliance members together to share best practices and work to integrate lessons learned into the company’s health equity strategy.

Through the power of collaboration, expansion of evidence-based interventions and a shared commitment to integrating the voices and lived experiences of community members, the alliance will create innovative solutions to help make health care more accessible and decrease health disparities.

“The alliance is being established to elevate the voices, needs and experiences of local communities, as institutions work to remove barriers to equitable care,” said Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., vice president and chief Health Equity officer for CVS Health. “These collaborations will help us deliver on our health equity strategy and commitment to making health care accessible for everyone.”

The collaboration with the Wayne State University Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations, or CHECK-UP, which includes a $300,000 commitment, will create a multi-sector community coalition to assure integration of community voice and alignment of community assets and resources to decrease heart health and mental health disparities in Detroit. The collaboration will also train faculty, staff and community members on best practices in community-engaged research and expand opportunities for skill-building for the community health workforce.

“We are grateful to CVS Health for this collaboration, which will support much-needed initiatives to address health disparities in Detroit and the surrounding region,” said M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University. “Strengthening relationships in the community and training community leaders will develop grassroots avenues to further our work to improve the health of the people of Detroit.”

The Detroit metropolitan area is characterized by many community strengths, yet the city of Detroit in particular experiences health inequities on a broad scale, especially in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental health. Many Detroiters grapple with the region's legacy of racism and the barriers that accompany this legacy across a range of life experiences that, directly and indirectly, increase residents’ vulnerability to poor physical and mental health outcomes. Wayne State University supports multidisciplinary faculty whose research addresses these inequities, but no infrastructure exists to facilitate collaboration between these researchers or partnerships between researchers and community stakeholders and assets.

The Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations, led by Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., WSU professor of Oncology, Office of Cancer Health Equity and Community Engagement, Karmanos Cancer Institute seeks to build this infrastructure by working across metropolitan Detroit communities and WSU’s schools, colleges, centers and departments to identify, investigate and act upon the barriers and bridges to health equity in the region. CHECK-UP is driven by the imperative that WSU prioritize and promote shared leadership with community stakeholders in medical and behavioral research, an approach referred to as community-based participatory research. Many WSU faculty already apply a community-engaged approach to their work. Methodologies that build engagement and participation will be central to CHECK-UP because of their promise in reducing health disparities, increasing the public relevance of WSU research, and increasing the diffusion of scientific discoveries throughout community at large.

For more information on how CVS Health is advancing health equity, visit cvshealth/healthequity.com.

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