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Multi-Chapter Virtual Panel: Equity of Care

November 17, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

This virtual event has been approved for 1.5 ACHE Face-to-Face Credits!


Quality of care should not vary on the basis of the patients’ socioeconomic, ethnic, gender, or geographic background. It is known however, that there is a healthcare divide in the U.S. especially in vulnerable populations including: those lacking health insurance (or are underfunded), low-income families, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ populations. The Affordable Care Act aimed to address access and equity of care issues by expanding health insurance coverage. Deficits in access to care changes the way healthcare is delivered and financed.

To embrace diversity is a core principle of the healthcare management profession and is also an ethical and business imperative. Healthcare organizations must ensure their staff is educated on disparities to appropriately address the needs of patients from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to provide equitable high-quality care to all. It has been shown that patient-centered care improves clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing medical errors and costs. Eliminating healthcare disparities provides a strategic component to ensure organizational excellence and long-term financial viability.


Our panel for this virtual event will include the following guest speakers:


Chara Stewart Abrams, MPH (Moderator)

System Director of Community Health and Health Equity



Terika Richardson, MPH, FACHE

Chief Operating Officer

Ardent Health Services


Denzil K. Ross, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

Northwest Medical Center Houghton


Vesta Sandoval, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Lovelace Medical Center


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Speakers Bios:


Chara Steward Abrams is the System Director of Community Health and Health Equity at CHRISTUS Health, where she is responsible for advancing their mission and vision by building the strategy for and operationalizing community health and health equity in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and international hospitals. She has over 18 years of experience in healthcare and public health administration. Chara is passionate about working with communities and healthcare organizations to foster strategic partnerships and align evidence-based initiatives to improve community health investment, ensure accountability, and dismantle systemic barriers to quality healthcare. Before joining CHRISTUS Health, she was the Administrative Director for the Department of Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She led clinical and research administration operations, including leading an electronic health records committee to successfully plan and implement the conversion of over 3,800 electronic mental health records, resulting in workflow and efficiency by 35%. Before joining St. Jude, she was the Director of Outreach at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). She led statewide programs to address cancer health disparities and provided a new direction based on Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles, patient navigation, and advancing health policy. Chara currently serves as the National Board Secretary of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE). Chara holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Public Health from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.


As chief operating officer of Ardent Health Services, Terika Richardson, MPH, FACHE, oversees the operations and strategic growth of 30 hospitals and more than 200 sites of care across six states. She leads the company’s efforts to build consumer-focused regional health networks and scale clinical and operational best practices across the Ardent system.

Richardson previously served as president of Advocate Aurora Health’s Central Chicagoland Patient Service Area where she oversaw the operations of hospitals, clinics and ambulatory operations. Under her leadership, the organization built out key service lines and developed innovative programs to address community health needs. Prior to joining Advocate Aurora in 2016, she was chief executive officer of Retreat Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and served in various leadership roles for HCA and Northwell Health.

Richardson earned both an undergraduate degree in biopsychology and cognitive science and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan. A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, she serves on the board of directors for the American Hospital Association’s Innovation Committee and Institute for Diversity and Health Equity. She has been recognized as one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives, among the Top 100 Women Leaders in Medicine of 2021 and Crain’s Chicago Business magazine’s 40 Under 40.


Denzil Ross, MBA is an accomplished healthcare executive who has successfully led both for-profit and nonprofit healthcare organizations. With his focus on cultivating relationships, building diverse teams, and delivering high quality patient care, Denzil is a proven and compelling leader in the healthcare systems and services industry.

Denzil is Chief Executive Officer of Northwest Medical Center Houghton, a new 150 bed hospital of the Northwest Health System in Tucson, AZ, which is part of Community Health System (CHS). Denzil was tapped to lead the opening of this hospital that will provide innovative care to patients on the east side of Tucson, a historically underserved community.

Healthcare Leadership Experience

  • Prior to joining CHS, Denzil served as the Chief Operating Officer of Lovelace Medical Center and the Lead Administrator of the Heart Hospital in Albuquerque, NM. In this role, he led the organization to be named to the Top 50 Cardiac Hospitals list in the US, as determined by the US World News and World Report as well as back-to-back Top Teaching Hospital recognition by the LeapFrog Group, amongst other accolades.
  • Prior to that, Denzil served as the Chief Operating Officer and Ethics and Compliance Officer of Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, TX, part of HCA Healthcare. Denzil led the organization to the top 10th percentile ranking for 5 consecutive quarters for patient satisfaction and the top 5% in the company.
  • Previously, Denzil served as the Associate Chief Operating Officer and Ethics and Compliance Officer at Overland Park Regional Medical Center in Overland Park, KS, another HCA Healthcare hospital, where he installed a Pediatric service line to the campus and achieved designation as a Level I, ACS verified Trauma Center.

Denzil received a Bachelor of Science, cum laude, in Computer Science and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration from Park University, Kansas City, MO. Denzil has served on the boards of Make A Wish of South/Central Texas and New Mexico, American Heart Association NM, APS Advisory Group, and Western Governors University Advisory Board.


Vesta Sandoval, M.D., is Chief Medical Officer of Lovelace Medical Center.

As an integral part of the Lovelace family, Dr. Sandoval has served as past Chief of Staff at Lovelace Medical Center, Chair of the Ethics Committee, and served as chair or member of Critical Care, Stroke, Peer Review and Credentials Committees. She also served as the Director of the intensive care unit (ICU) and Director of Respiratory services for Lovelace Westside Hospital, Lovelace Women’s Hospital and Lovelace Medical Center. She is on the Lovelace Medical Center hospital board of directors and serves as President of the Board of the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association. Dr Sandoval has served on the Medical Advisory Board to the Governor during the covid crisis to aid in vaccinations, treatment and patient transport as well as equipment and PPE distribution for the state of New Mexico. Dr. Sandoval has been a Fellow of American Chest Physicians since 2001. She was named a Top Doc by ABQ the Magazine in 2012.

Dr Sandoval was born and raised in New Mexico. Graduated from Los Lunas High School and attended collage on a basketball scholarship.

Dr. Sandoval received a bachelor of science degree from University of Texas at Arlington in Arlington, TX and a master of science degree from University of Houston at Clear Lake in Houston, TX. She earned her degree in medicine from Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock, TX. Dr. Sandoval completed her internal medicine residency at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, as well as her fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine.


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