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  • Oct 22, 2021

CHA Receives High Marks from Lown Institute

Lown Institute Ranks Cambridge Health Alliance First in Mass. for Community Investment and Health Equity

Media Contact:  David Cecere, 617-591-4044 or dcecere@challiance.org

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities, has been ranked as the number one hospital in Massachusetts (with an A grade) in Health Equity and Community Benefit (spending on charity care and community investment) by the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan healthcare think tank. 

The Lown Hospitals Index 2021 Health Equity ranking examined 3,708 hospitals based on their commitment to inclusivity, pay equity and community investment. The Community Benefit ranking examined 3,641 hospitals based on their Medicaid revenue, charity care spending and other investments that directly benefit the community -- in areas such as health clinics, housing and food security. Data for these measures came from hospital cost reports filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, IRS 990 forms, the American Hospital Association annual survey, and the CMS Hospital Compare database. All data were from 2018. Public hospitals like CHA are well represented on the lists, given their role as safety net institutions tasked with caring for all regardless of ability to pay. 

“Improving the health of our communities is at the heart of our organizational mission,” said Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance. “This recognition validates how important our work is both inside and outside the walls of our hospitals and health centers.”

CHA’s community focus extends across a wide range of population health, public health and community health programs and initiatives. Examples include: 

  • The Volunteer Health Advisor (VHA) program, which trains and supports volunteers to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education for underserved and hard-to-reach populations. VHAs have played a critical role in CHA’s mobile vaccination program, which has given approximately 2,000 vaccinations to hard-to-reach populations in communities heavily impacted by COVID-19. 

  • CHA’s food security screening programs, which have provided food assistance to local families facing food insecurity and patients in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes CHA’s innovative Mobile Market in Revere, created in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, Tufts Health Plan and other community partners, which distributed more than 100,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious food to families over the past year. 

  • Project READ, CHA's childhood literacy program, which provides all children with new, age-appropriate books during pediatric visits and counsels families about the importance of reading aloud. 

  • CHA’s Health Improvement Team, which works collaboratively with healthcare providers, residents, community based organizations and city leaders to assess community health status, identify problem areas, build action plans and provide leadership around health issues that impact the community.

  • CHA Recovery Coaches, who work as peer counselors in the Emergency Department to support patients struggling with the disease of addiction and help them access treatment at a time when they are most receptive. 

CHA performed well in other Lown Institute measures of hospital performance. In the most recent rankings of Inclusivity, which measure hospitals’ success in caring for low income, low educational status and people of color in their catchment areas, CHA earned an A grade and ranked second in Massachusetts and among the top 100 hospitals in the nation. CHA also ranked in the top 100 for Health Equity and received an A grade nationally for Social Responsibility, Value of Care, Cost Efficiency and Avoiding Overuse (a measure of a hospital's delivery of commonly overused and unnecessary procedures). 

Founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter, the Lown Institute believes that a radically better system of health is possible and generates bold ideas towards that goal. The Lown Hospitals Index, a signature project of the Institute, is the first ranking to assess the social responsibility of U.S. hospitals by applying measures never used before like racial inclusivity, avoidance of overuse, and pay equity.

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