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Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center launches new initiative to address health disparities of African Americans with chronic kidney disease

 2 minute read time

(PHOENIX, Ariz. – Feb. 27, 2023) – Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center has launched a new initiative to address race-based algorithms in early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. The launch of the program marks a significant step towards removing barriers that have long plagued racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans. The initiative is being led by CommonSpirit Health, of which St. Joseph’s is a member.

Although kidney disease is a common and serious health condition that affects nearly 37 million Americans, diagnosing the disease has not always been straightforward. For decades medical professionals have used an assessment tool called estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to calculate a variety of factors, including lab tests, age, and race to measure kidney function. Recent studies however have suggested that there is no scientific basis for including race in the algorithm, and doing so results in delay of care and worse clinical outcomes for African Americans. 

To address this disparity and advance health equity, CommonSpirit Health has created the Equity Heals: Addressing Chronic Kidney Disease initiative, which focuses on the design and implementation of a racial justice-informed, patient and community awareness intervention to improve chronic kidney disease outcomes of African Americans and other racial minorities. As part of the initiative, CommonSpirit Health is removing race from eGFR calculations to correct the disparity in early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. St. Joseph’s is a learning site that will measure the implementation of the new eGFR formula and launch a community outreach effort focused on chronic kidney disease disparities impacting the African American population. 

“St. Joseph’s is proud to be part of this groundbreaking initiative, which will lead to improved outcomes for patients with chronic kidney disease, regardless of their race,” says Victor Waters, MD, JD, FCLM, Chief Medical Officer at St. Joseph’s. “This is a critical step in achieving health equity for all.” 

CommonSpirit Health, which is comprised of 140 hospitals and more than one thousand care sites in 21 states, will scale the initiative across the regions it serves, impacting and improving health outcomes for millions of Americans.

“This transition marks the beginning of ensuring that patients across our communities have access to equitable care without the influence of systemic social barriers such as race,” says Gaye Woods, System Vice President of Equity and Inclusion for CommonSpirit Health.


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Publish date: 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Media Contact

Carmelle Malkovich, External Communications Director

p: (602) 406-3319

[email protected]