Michigan Child Health Equity Collaborative

Research and improvement are the processes; equity is the outcome  

July 11, 2023

New quality collaborative seeks to address pediatric health-care inequities 

University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Michigan, and Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital announce their commitment to what's believed to be a first-of-its-kind quality collaborative designed to identify and address equity issues for pediatric patients and their families receiving care at their hospitals. 

The Michigan Child Health Equity Collaborative (Mi-CHEC) is a quality collaborative of the three largest pediatric hospitals in Michigan. Mi-CHEC, funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to engage these hospitals – including providers in pediatric care (e.g., doctors, nurses, social workers, staff), institutional leaders and families – in identifying and measuring health-care inequities that might exist within the organizations. 

Mi-CHEC facilitates the sharing of topics for study, research methods, data and quality improvement strategies across the collaborating hospitals to support this process. If the presence of an inequity is verified through a rigorous process, Mi-CHEC will work in a collaborative fashion across the hospitals to develop and implement specific quality improvement interventions.

Mi-CHEC's leaders define equity issues as those within the control of the health system, either in the care patients receive or in the patient/family’s experience. Equity issues could include differences in how patients and their families are treated relative to their gender, race and ethnicity, income, ability status, sexual orientation, weight status and more. These issues have been studied frequently in adults; however, there is limited research on them in pediatric populations, and even fewer interventions to address equity issues for kids.

"It is inspirational that these hospitals are voluntarily willing to explore where they might fall short in equitable treatment of children and their families – and work together to do something about it," said Mi-CHEC founder and director Gary L. Freed, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician at Mott. "I am proud to be a part of this effort and of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for making it possible."

Mott, of Michigan Medicine, is nationally recognized for excellence in clinical services, research and education. As one of the leading pediatric healthcare centers in the United States, this state-of-the-art facility helps to fulfill a continued commitment to providing newborns, children and pregnant women with the best health care possible. 

"We're very excited for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital to participate in this important collaborative to address health disparities in our pediatric patients, along with our partner children's hospitals throughout the state,” said Luanne Thomas Ewald, M.H.A., FACHE, chief operating officer of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, part of Corewell Health, is another nationally ranked children’s hospital that provides comprehensive clinical care to children across the state of Michigan. It offers advanced pediatric specialty care with more than 300 pediatric physicians who practice in 70 pediatric specialties and programs and care close to home in over 50 regional clinics.

"Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is excited and honored to be a charter member of the Michigan Child Health Equity Collaborative," said Adam Nicholson, M.D., the medical director of quality, safety and experience and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at DeVos. "Our participation in this state-wide collaborative reflects our organizational pledge to improve health and health equity through collaboration and courage. We are committed to facing the difficult challenge of eliminating inequities in health care and look forward to this learning journey with the other members of Mi-CHEC."

Children’s Hospital of Michigan, established in 1886, is the first and largest freestanding hospital in the state completely dedicated to serving children. This 228-bed facility has an international reputation in pediatric medicine, surgery and research, and is also ranked as one of America’s best pediatric hospitals.

"I believe that health care is a right," said Archie Drake, M.B.A., chief executive officer at Children's Hospital of Michigan. "For the most vulnerable, our children, we cannot accept inequity in health care – be it access, treatment or medications. I am excited and eager to see what this collaborative discovers and then begin the work to improve and change." 

Although the work of Mi-CHEC starts at the three hospitals in the collaborative, its leaders believe that pediatric equity issues are present in other health systems across the state and the country. Findings from Mi-CHEC will be disseminated to inform local, state, and national decision makers to provide actionable steps to identify and address inequities. Ultimately, the goal is to improve equity in pediatric care for all.

"The fact that the three largest institutions that provide care for children in Michigan are enthusiastically collaborating to address this important issue of pediatric health equity is truly encouraging," said Mi-CHEC associate director Susan Woolford, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician at Mott. "Together we have the potential to improve health outcomes for Michigan’s children and to be a model for other states nationwide."

For more information, visit michec.org