MHA’s Anchoring Equity blog series profiles the work of our members as they work to advance health equity, diversity, and inclusion in their organizations and in their communities.
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer,
Berkshire Health Systems
What motivated you to take on the role of DEI officer within your organization?
I am driven by my personal and clinical background, particularly my lived experiences and challenges endured as both a Black patient and a caregiver at the bedside. I share my experiences through my weekly blog, which I created with the intention of inspiring meaningful discussion around DEI and health equity. I hope that in doing so, I am encouraging others to share their own experiences, whether good or bad, regarding DEI and health equity. I have the great privilege and responsibility of guiding Berkshire Health System as we adopt the pillars of DEI not as a standalone initiative, but as a lens through which we examine everything we do.
What is your organization’s approach to advancing DEI and health equity internally and externally?
At BHS, we say that advancing DEI is generational work – we are seeking to break down systemic racism and barriers to care that were built over generations, and we are building an infrastructure that will advance health equity for generations to come. This infrastructure can only be successful if we carry it out thoughtfully and deliberately, with dedicated time, resources, transparency, and accountability to drive long-term success.
We’ve identified four building blocks to serve as the foundation for our DEI infrastructure as we work to impact long-term change both within our organization and our community: data, relationships, education, and action.
What is something you are most proud of?
The thing I am most proud of during my first year as DEI officer is how we as an organization have begun to strengthen our relationship with the community. We are out at events and we are meeting our community members where they are. We have begun to form a partnership with our community. The community voice was important in the creation of our Community Code of Conduct. We listened to their input and considered their thoughts and ideas. The best part was when one community member stated, “These conversations would have never happened two to three years ago.” This relationship building will be important as we work to close those disparities that affect the health of the most vulnerable in our community.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients and caregivers in Berkshire County, and I look forward to working with my colleagues across Massachusetts to create a healthier, more equitable statewide healthcare system.
Click here to learn more about Berkshire Health Systems and its programs.