Mar 15, 2022
DaVita’s Commitment to Health Equity Extends Past Care Center Walls
A smiling family of three, including a grandmother, a daughter and a young boy, embrace and smile.

DaVita has a strong dedication to equitable care and outcomes for the patients it serves—at every step of the kidney care journey. And with that commitment, we also recognize that many factors beyond the treatments provided by our care teams can impact a patient’s ability to achieve good health.

“It’s not just about health equity for our patients within center walls,” says Kenny Gardner, chief people officer for DaVita. “For many years we have had a commitment to community first, and that community mindset helps drive us to consider what role we can play to positively impact social determinants of health.”

DaVita asserts that Health Equity is best supported when all patients are empowered with tools and resources to help them achieve improved health outcomes, regardless of social determinants including economic well-being, social status, race, gender and more. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defined the social determinants of health (SDOH) as a specific set of conditions that all play a role in an individual’s health—including their quality-of-life outcomes and risks. These categories span not only access and quality of health care, but also education, home and environment and economic stability.

DaVita has largely achieved equitable outcomes for the in-center dialysis experience, based on key clinical metrics such as hospitalizations, readmissions and infection rates.

“We are proud of these metrics, but we know our work is not done,” Dr. Jeff Giullian, chief medical officer for DaVita, says. “Building on the work we’ve done in centers, DaVita aims to reduce—and when possible, eliminate—health disparities, including in home dialysis modalities and transplantation. To do this, we are taking a holistic view of factors that contribute to individual journeys—factors like economic stability and other social determinants of health.”

Transformational Deposits: Hope Credit Union

Nearly one in 4 U. S. residents do not have the assets needed to live above the poverty line for three months in the absence of income.[1] For people of color, the rate jumps to 35%. This economic instability can significantly impact one’s ability to achieve good health, since it can have a domino effect of impacts on things such as access to housing, education and nutrition.

To better support economic stability, DaVita recently announced a $15 million Transformational Deposit in HOPE (Hope Credit Union).

The Black- and women-owned financial institution provides financial services for underserved communities in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. The Transformational Deposits program provides much needed capital to support small business owners, first-time home buyers and those seeking to expand access to high quality rural health care facilities.

“By supporting organizations like HOPE, we are playing a part in creating opportunities for individuals and entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas. We believe these actions will help positively impact not only those individuals, but their communities as well, leading to improved access to things like health care, nutritional food and even housing,” says Dr. Giullian.

In their 2020 impact report, Moments to a Movement, HOPE defined their as an extension of the Civil Rights Movement marked by moments of opportunity, growth and progress. As Bill Bynum, CEO of HOPE, wrote:

“Every consumer who escapes from a predatory debt trap is a moment. Every successful entrepreneur is a moment. Every first-time homeowner is a moment. Every hospital, school, or grocery store financed in an opportunity desert is a moment. Every policy that ignites investment in persistent poverty communities is a moment.”

DaVita’s deposit—the largest of its kind by a single organization—also exemplifies the company’s work toward racial and social equity. In 2021, the kidney care company began participation in Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s (MLT) Black Equity at Work certification program as one of the program’s launch employers.

As part of certification, MLT sets expectations for progress in key areas to promote and foster racial equity in workplaces; however, the certification also encourages companies to think outside of their own culture to support racially and socially just businesses and organizations—organizations like HOPE.

“We recognize that using our broader platform as an organization can have a meaningful impact in the greater world around us,” Mr. Gardner says. “And putting our collective commitment and energy into opportunities like this makes me feel quite proud as we devote ourselves to a Trilogy of Care: Caring for Our Patients, Each Other and the World.”