Knowledge is Power: Key Takeaways from our Global Diversity Awareness Month Education Series
By: Kathleen Silard, President and CEO
I believe one of the most fulfilling experiences in life is learning. Each October, we celebrate Global Diversity Awareness Month – a month dedicated to celebrating the many ways our different ethnicities, cultures, heritages, experiences, abilities, and other attributes contribute to a more dynamic and enriching workplace. This year, we held a series of educational events which allowed our entire staff the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of one another, our patients, our community, and ourselves. I took away three ideas that I will carry with me in my professional and personal life.
Hearing others’ diverse experiences can inspire you to advance your own cultural competency. We are fortunate to have a residency team and other caregivers who shared their diverse experiences in health care during a discussion called Practicing Medicine Around the Globe. I was humbled, but not surprised, by the level of cultural competency each of them possesses. Patient and caregiver relationships can look different in different areas of the world. We must always be willing to learn and adapt, so that every patient, regardless of their cultural and/or religious background, feels seen, heard, and cared for equally. Taking a moment to listen and ask how we can be better care partner to our patients furthers our vision of being the most trusted health care partner to the communities we serve.
Addressing health equity is not something we can do alone. Leveraging community partnerships amplifies our impact. Stamford is proudly very diverse. Roughly 33% of our community is foreign-born, over 70 languages are spoken across our school system, and individuals with disabilities are active members of our community and workforce. To understand this diversity, our community partners play an integral role in facilitating dialogue. Building One Community (B1C), A Conversation with Anka Badurina underscored the challenges individuals and families face upon entering our country for the first time. They are often met with several barriers such as access to affordable housing, health care, and understanding the language. Through programmatic initiatives such as interpretation services and liaising with our new Community Health Workers, we can connect with patients in a way that is meaningful and appropriate, while helping them navigate these challenges. We continually work with partners such as B1C to break down barriers and help members of these communities feel more integrated, educated, and supported.
As health care leaders, we have a continued responsibility to shine a light on health equity issues. We recently partnered with Sacred Heart University (SHU) and several of our Stamford Health colleagues to lead a panel discussion called Think Globally, Act Locally: A Conversation on Health Care Diversity and Disparities. This concept prompted each panelist to discuss health care disparities they encounter in their professional fields. For example, Professor Christina Gunther, Department Chair of Health Sciences at SHU, stated she has met numerous individuals aged 65+ who have experienced issues accessing health care resources both in Connecticut, as well as abroad. This is just one example that reinforces the same types of issues prevail in both a large and small scale. Bringing these topics to the forefront and engaging in meaningful dialogue allows us to think critically and learn from each other.
Knowledge is one of life’s most powerful tools and it is because of our appetite to learn that we continue to grow. I am proud of the work our teams do every day to meet our mission for our patients and community, and ensure we are building a diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace for ALL.
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