Greater than Only a Assertion: A Yr of Anti-Racism Efforts at Chester County Hospital

Timmy Nelson of West Chester, PA, is a former UPS government and the latest member of the Chester County Hospital Board of Administrators. He’s additionally a long-time member of the Affected person and Household Advisory Council and the Turk’s Head Board, which advises the hospital on actual property issues. He additionally serves on the board of The United Method of Chester County.           

As a Black man in America, Nelson has been topic to racial profiling. There was the policeman who usually patrolled his neighborhood and stopped his automotive outdoors Nelson’s home, sooner or later asking, “You reside right here?” He has been pulled over with out trigger and advised it was a part of a routine visitors cease. He has given his personal kids, particularly his sons, “the discuss” about learn how to work together with the police.

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Sharayne Mark Coffin, MD, took a stand in opposition to racial injustice with CCH workers and physicians by her facet throughout a White Coats for Black Lives silent protest on June 5, 2020.

Such injustices have all the time been a part of lived expertise for Black People. Nonetheless, on Might 25, 2020, George Floyd was slowly suffocated to loss of life in Minneapolis by a police officer, spurring outrage and requires significant change nationwide. This occasion shifted nationwide consciousness round race. There have been quite a few incidents earlier than and since then which, because of bystanders’ smartphones, have revealed unjust and inhumane actions concentrating on Black People.

Chester County Hospital (CCH) CEO Mike Duncan says the incidents of final Might shook him to his core. “My administration philosophy is ‘love individuals, anticipate excellence.’ When Mr. Floyd was killed, I might inform our Black front-line workers particularly had been deeply affected by it — offended, fearful, traumatized,” he says. “I didn’t know what to do.”

As many white CEOs issued statements supporting Black Lives Matter, Duncan was at a loss. What might a press release actually do? This led to a different query: Because the chief of a hospital with many Black workers and an obligation to take care of the neighborhood, what might he do to grasp the state of affairs and use it as a chance? Whereas wider efforts had been additionally getting underway on the hospital and throughout Penn Medication by way of its Motion for Cultural Transformation (ACT), Duncan additionally dedicated himself to discovering out how he might assist from individuals who knew greatest within the Chester County neighborhood.

Begin by Listening

Duncan known as Timmy Nelson for recommendation and requested him to function his mentor. (Nelson notes he was “honored to play that function.”) He in flip related Duncan with different Black leaders within the West Chester neighborhood: educators, pastors, native Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Folks (NAACP) administrators. One such chief was Pastor Kyle Boyer of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coatesville, PA, who can also be a center faculty instructor in Norristown, PA, a Tredyffrin/Easttown Faculty Board member, and previous president of the West Chester NAACP. Black leaders from the hospital’s employees additionally made some introductions for Duncan. For instance, Rhonda West-Haynes, MHA, BSN, director of Income Operations, launched him to Richard Roberts, III, founder and CEO of Younger Males and Ladies in Cost (YMWIC) in West Chester, PA. YMWIC companions with space faculty districts to immerse low-income and minority Ok-12 college students in a STEM-based curriculum, expose them to STEM professions, and pave their means towards school.

These leaders grew to become an off-the-cuff advisory group for Duncan — individuals he might name for recommendation and counsel.

Then got here extra conversations with employees. Wendell Wesley, a surgical care assistant, was one in every of about 50 Black employees members from throughout the hospital who Duncan invited for one-to-one discussions about their experiences and emotions because of present occasions. Wesley says that, on the time, he was feeling very pissed off and he wasn’t stunned by Duncan’s invitation. “Mike was clear on his willingness to do every thing inside his energy to grasp and create the modifications that wanted to be made inside our neighborhood.” Wesley provides that he left that assembly with a sense of hope.

“I felt like my dialog with Mike was constructive at a time once we wanted positivity in our lives — not solely outdoors of the hospital but additionally right here, within the office.”

What Duncan heard from Wesley and different employees members actually modified him. “Actually, like many individuals I believed we had made way more progress than we have now,” Duncan says.

Since then, Wesley has seen modifications for the higher, however notes that so many extra are wanted. “For us to maneuver ahead, as a neighborhood and nation, all of it comes all the way down to respect and being respectful to at least one one other. To be able to repair this downside of racism, we should first acknowledge that it exists on all ranges,” he shares.

Wesley’s insights, and others gleaned from these discussions, led to a sequence of first steps this previous fall and winter to root out any types of systemic racism — regardless of how refined — on the hospital. In a means, it is a continuation of the work already began by the Variety, Fairness, and Inclusion Committee at CCH and thru the ACT initiative throughout Penn Medication. For instance, the Legacy Builders Breakfast sequence for Black ladies and men from all through Chester County Hospital and Penn Medication, has been round since 2019. However now the work is extra intentional, extra seen, and targeted on elevating everybody’s consciousness.

Taking the First Steps

Duncan requested an government who had met one-on-one with him to think about sharing her story extra broadly. That led to small-group shows with roughly 100 members of the administration group. “Many stated, ‘I had no thought they had been having this expertise,’” Duncan says.

He and his government group appointed Nelson to the Board of Administrators. The hospital will proceed efforts to ensure that Black voices are represented in senior-level positions. Pastor Kyle Boyer additionally introduced a workshop on understanding white privilege to members of the hospital’s Affected person and Household Advisory Council, with plans to current to different teams sooner or later.

The hospital has additionally dedicated to mentoring Black workers extra proactively. An environmental providers employees member who expressed curiosity in a scientific function is now working as an Emergency Division technician. A tech aide has moved to a brand new function as a sterilization processing technician.

“We wish to assist Black workers develop into these roles and pull them ahead,” Duncan stresses.

Forging Group Partnerships

The hospital’s employees realizes it could actually’t do that work alone, and the partnerships Duncan cast have led to productive collaborations. For instance, physicians, nurses, and different employees members are volunteering with YMWIC to teach younger individuals about well being and science careers. Some hospital employees have served as judges for YMWIC’s Annual Science Expo in March (held just about). Others have made digital shows to college students and their households on subjects resembling COVID-19 and psychological well being. After the pandemic, college students will have the ability to are available for job shadowing.

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Household drugs doctor Lisa Croft, MD, solutions questions in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine at a particular Martin Luther King, Jr., vaccination occasion held at Chester County Hospital.

On Martin Luther King Day, with Nelson’s assist, the hospital invited 10 members of St. Paul’s Baptist Church to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine and participate in a panel dialogue with household drugs doctor Lisa Croft, MD, whose husband is the church’s pastor. The occasion was recorded so it might be shared with the congregation and different Black church buildings.

Black People understandably have been reluctant to take vaccinations, given the historical past of medical disparities and boundaries amongst this inhabitants. “The thought was, ‘Right here is one thing you’ll be able to take again to your church buildings to attempt to transfer the needle for healthcare fairness,’” Duncan says. Nelson has since invited different church buildings and neighborhood teams to take part in comparable COVID-19 vaccination occasions with plans to broaden this mannequin to well being screenings sooner or later.

The hospital additionally ready a Zoom occasion that was recorded in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine and introduced it to the West Chester NAACP. Different space NAACP chapters had been invited to attend the presentation and given the recording for future use. The hospital additionally shared it with space church buildings.

For Black Historical past Month in February, the hospital hosted an internet speaker sequence for its workforce that includes 12 influential voices within the Black neighborhood. Amongst them was Pastor Kyle Boyer, who talked in regards to the historical past of African-American progress in Chester County. Richard Roberts III of YMWIC spoke about his group and introduced in one in every of his senior students to share her expertise.

 “Societal change of this type just isn’t an in a single day factor right here,” Roberts stated. “There’s an previous mind-set that will get handed down from technology to technology.” And he says sees a collaborator in Mike Duncan and the group at CCH.

“I’m supportive of the hospital’s dedication to fairness,” says Pastor Boyer. “Folks might not know the hospital effectively, however they anticipate it to be there when they’re sick. However beneath that terra cotta roof is a management group dedicated to creating the world a greater place.”

Trying to the Future         

Duncan is adamant that these efforts will go on. He recollects a Black pastor who visited a few of her parishioners across the time of Black Historical past Month who advised him, “‘It’s important to maintain this going and ensure it’s not only a one-time occasion.’ I agree, and we plan to maintain making progress over time in numerous methods.”

Though there’s nonetheless an extended street forward, the neighborhood is already taking discover. Duncan was invited to speak in regards to the hospital’s efforts at a Penn Medication discussion board as a part of its ACT initiative, targeted on making certain fairness and eliminating racism. Black leaders at Chester County Hospital created a brand new award, the Spirit of Belonging Award, which they gave to Duncan in the course of the hospital’s service awards ceremony on January 14. 

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Michael Duncan (L), President and CEO, holds the Spirit of Belonging award, which was introduced to him by Timmy Nelson (R), Board Member at Chester County Hospital.

“I’ve by no means acquired an award that meant extra to me,” he stated. “We now have 5 values right here:

innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect, excellence. Respect is a very powerful. There’s an expectation that everybody goes to be handled with respect. We now have quite a bit to study how we’re going to do this. Nonetheless, regardless of what’s going on on the planet, if you get to campus I would like you to sigh and really feel you’re in a secure place. You might have a voice and you’re revered.”

“There are a number of hospital workers at my church and plenty of have advised me they know I’m working with Mike on range points,” Timmy Nelson provides. “And so they say ‘thanks — I feel we’re going to be higher than we are actually.’ And that’s actually a driving pressure for me.”

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