VCU Health’s Commitment to Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Tackle Health Disparities

by savoystaff

In an era where healthcare disparities continue to persist, VCU Health, central Virginia’s largest safety-net health system, has emerged as an industry leader, actively addressing these disparities through an unrelenting commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). By recognizing the undeniable link between health outcomes and social determinants, VCU Health is paving the way for a more equitable and accessible future in healthcare. Through innovative programs, recruitment strategies, and strategic initiatives, VCU Health is preparing its workforce to champion the cause of health equity and bridge the gaps that have long plagued our society.

  1. Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce:

At the heart of VCU Health’s efforts to combat health disparities lies the cultivation of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Representation matters and we understand that diversity among our healthcare professionals helps foster cultural responsiveness and sensitivity, enabling the provision of more effective and patient-centered care.

  1. Training and Education:

We also recognize that creating a diverse workforce is just the beginning. To address health disparities comprehensively, we place a strong emphasis on ongoing training and education for our workforce. We provide resources and programs that focus on understanding and addressing implicit biases, cultural competency, and the impact of social determinants of health. One example of this is our pronoun pin initiative. This initiative allows others to know a person’s pronouns while providing a safe environment for staff and patients to start a dialogue on how they identify.

  1. Becoming Culturally Responsive:

Systemic racism could mean life or death for any of our patients, so we are intentional about ensuring that our staff at VCU Health have access to the tools and resources they need to become not only culturally competent, but culturally responsive. It’s important to note that these are two very different things. Cultural competence is the vehicle that gets us to be culturally responsive. As the world evolves, cultures evolve too. If we’re culturally competent, then we are equipped to respond as cultures change. A big part of that is just listening. Our D.I.R.E conversations initiative does just that through monthly meetings. D.I.R.E stands for diversity, inclusion, restoration and equity. The goal is to have open and honest conversations so that we can learn from one another and then take what we learn back to our teams. This is just one way we are providing platforms and spaces to listen effectively to each other while creating tools that help us to advance DEI.

  1. Research and Innovation:

Our commitment to advancing DEI extends beyond the walls of our healthcare facilities and into our community. As an academic health system, we seek to uncover new insights into the complex factors contributing to health disparities through innovative research methods. By partnering with other academic institutions and leveraging the expertise of its diverse workforce, we aim to develop evidence-based solutions that can be implemented both locally and nationally. This focus on research and innovation ensures that VCU Health remains at the forefront of the fight against health disparities.

As VCU Health’s Vice President, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, I am proud to lead this important work. My mission is to ensure that equity is at the core of everything we do, say and touch. We are intentional in our efforts because we recognize it is the only way to create meaningful change. VCU Health’s unwavering dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is transforming the way healthcare organizations address health disparities. By cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce with equitable policies and practices, providing comprehensive training and education and driving research and innovation, VCU Health is laying the foundation for a future where equitable healthcare is accessible to all.

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