- Why are you passionate about this work?
I am a registered nurse and the most special aspect of that sacred work is meeting patients and their families, understanding their needs, and then meeting their expressed expectations. More often than not, families would express the desire that “special care” be given to their patient. I thought that I took “special care” of all of my patients so this seemed like an easy request to fulfill. It took me a while to realize that the family’s expectation of “special” care did not always mean “good” care like I thought; in their eyes “special” care almost always meant care specifically designed to meet the needs of their family and the patient. Once I realized this, I became much more engaged in getting to know my patients, never assuming that I knew what was “special” to them. I became much more aware of the differences in every one of us that make us so special and interesting. The Health Equity work is an extension of what makes us all special.
2. What was your “aha” moment while working on equity-related efforts at your organization?
Toni Green, Trinity Health Vice President of Inclusion and Collaboration, and I attended DLP together and our project was the development of the Trinity Health strategic plan to address healthcare disparities. My “aha” moment came when Toni and I began to meet with our executive leadership to introduce the disparity work and socialize the proposed strategic plan. Trinity Health is a Catholic organization whose mission, vision, and values are inextricably linked to equity. Despite our leadership’s collective understanding of the organizational mission, the understanding of what equity work “is” and “how” it should be addressed was found to be highly variable; each leader had their own vision of what the health equity plan should “look like.” The diversity expressed in their opinions was reflective of the disparity work itself; each person is “special” and has their own perspective and set of expectations and needs.
3. What part of the Disparities Leadership Program has been the most useful in moving your work forward?
Without a doubt, the people that I have met through the Disparities Leadership Program have provided me with the most assistance in moving my work forward. The participants in the DLP cohorts and the Disparities Solutions Center instructors have been active mentors to me, helping me to identify relevant approaches to problem-solving and sharing potential solutions. Access to these equity practitioners is available through the DSC listserv. My network was further extended by meeting attendees at the Health Equity Forum. This equity crowd, passionate about helping both individuals and communities, is as inspiring as our work.
4. What is one piece of advice you would give anyone working on disparities/equity-related efforts?
Like any type of clinical improvement work, Health Equity work is hard work. I have found that having an inspiring vision for the equity work is critical to motivating both leaders and communities to do the work. Every vision should be inclusive of data, appeal to the heart, and demonstrate the ethics of equitable care. Once all parties understand the vision, their desire, efforts and persistence will become instrumental in achieving the goals.
To learn more about Trinity Health’s project through the Disparities Leadership Program, click here.