HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford HealthCare is rolling out a new approach to meeting the needs of its patients to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Hartford HealthCare launched its new Center for Equity, where the goal is to inspire patients and reshape the future of health care.

“Here in Connecticut, around the country, where somebodies born, their zip code can not define their life’s expectancy,” Jeffrey Flaks, the president and CEO of Hartford HealthCare, said.

Flaks said the idea for the center evolved out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts said COVID forced them into various communities, where they administered boosters and met other health needs. They also learned about disparities in health care that many communities face.

“We transformed the way that we deliver care,” Sara Lewis, the chief equity officer at Hartford HealthCare, said. “We reached out into the community, first making testing available across the community and across the state.”

Officials said once a patient walks through the door, the program is designed to break down the barriers to healthcare, be it language or race.

“We employ more than 35,000 colleagues across the state so they can come here and find diverse and inclusive and welcoming space,” Lewis said.

Connie Flores is one of those colleagues. For her, this mission is personal. She came to the U.S. as a child and knows the barriers patients sometimes face during a doctor’s visit.

“It’s a different feeling when you, as a patient, come in, and your provider speaks the same language, understands the same customs,” Flores said.

Officials said the hospital must ensure that nobody is left behind and the work begins effective immediately.