Equal Hope’s mission is to save women’s lives by eliminating health disparities in Illinois, originally through the lens of breast cancer and now expanded to cervical cancer and other women’s cancers. We address women’s health holistically by helping women establish medical homes with the goal of eliminating inequities in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship for all women.
Equal Hope is a not-for-profit organization originally set up in 2008 as the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force after the publication of disturbing research that showed that Chicago had large and growing racial disparities in breast cancer mortality.
From 2005 to 2007, Black women in Chicago died of breast cancer at a rate 62% higher than White women even though they were diagnosed less often. At the same time, there were only very low breast cancer mortality disparities in New York and San Francisco. This suggested to the founders of Equal Hope that instead of biological differences, this health inequity was driven by structural racism. In other words, Chicago’s inequitable healthcare system was to blame.
The founders brought together a large number of interested Chicagoans and they brainstormed and had town hall meetings and other convenings for over a year. From this initial work came the first report in October 2007 called “Improving Quality and Reducing Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality in Metropolitan Chicago.” This report laid out 37 recommendations to the city of Chicago for how to reduce breast cancer disparities. One of the recommendations was the establishment of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force (now Equal Hope) as a not for profit dedicated to elimination of this disparity.
We have created a successful evidence-based model for understanding and reducing disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The model described below can be used as Equal Hope expands its focus to more holistically help uninsured, underinsured, and publicly insured women gain access to higher quality care for cervical cancer, other cancers and even other diseases. This model has been cited by major medical journals as an effective way to address inequities in the healthcare system.
Rigorously assess the healthcare system for a specific health disparity. Map out where people go for service (i.e. capacity surveys), and for resources such as equipment, specialists, and Centers of Excellence and look at how this matches or often doesn’t match where people of color and people with less income live.
Identify what constitutes the highest quality care that gets a person the best chance of survival with the fewest side effects. Collect quality data. Create an easily read and understood scoring report so that healthcare providers and facilities can see how they are doing and where they can improve.
Sign up all the healthcare providers/facilities to share quality data confidentially – everybody in and nobody out.
Assess how the healthcare system works for or fails people with an illness. What are the touch points for a patient going through the system? What are the barriers? What helps patients get what they need?
Listen to patients and the stories they tell about their experience with the healthcare system.
Only after looking at all the data and understanding the experience of patients, targeted interventions can be created, tested and evaluated. Interventions might include patient outreach, education and navigation, and education of health care providers. To ensure long-lasting systemic change, policy advocacy may also be needed.
Meet our staff, our board and our expert advisory committee members.Learn More
Over the past decade, we have made considerable progress in reducing breast cancer disparities in Chicago.Learn More
We are incredibly grateful to our partners and funders. We could not do what we do without them.Learn More