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Enhanced National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services
April 24, 2013

Today I had the honor to be a part of the release of the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care. I stood alongside key leaders of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and experts in the field to proudly unveil what will serve as an important resource or blueprint in the work of hospitals to provide equity in health care. This long-awaited update will provide hospitals, physicians and others at the front lines of care a vital resource to ensure the care they provide is of the highest quality for all.

The health care field is eager to embrace these standards and, for many, they have already become common practice, which we applaud. My hope is to make these standards the floor and not the ceiling for what we can achieve. For hospitals, these standards will steer them toward a path of better care, care that is individualized to the patient’s unique identity based on a myriad of factors like race, culture, economics and religion, to name a few.

Hospitals have become increasingly engaged in equitable care and diversity, and the American Hospital Association has responded. The equityofcare.org website is a testament to the ongoing work of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities, of which we are a founding partner. Internally, equity of care is part of our strategic plan. Through the AHA’s Equity of Care Committee, which reports to our Board of Trustees, we effectively coordinate and ensure alignment through our membership groups and advocacy, such as the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, the Center for Healthcare Governance and the Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence platform. Equity of care is a high priority for us, and we know it is central to quality in care.

The CLAS standards represent so much. They are a helpful tool, a launching point for quality improvement and a manifestation of the growing body of work and commitment of national groups, both public and private. For patients and communities nationwide, these standards represent better care and a commitment to meet their evolving care expectations.

Rich Umbdenstock
Rich Umbdenstock
President and CEO
American Hospital Association

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