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Duke Health Leaders Share Plans for Advancing Racial, Social and Health Equity

Part of the Anti-Racism Scholarship, Learning and Activism at Duke Series

Duke Health team members recently gathered in a virtual town hall to hear a progress report on Moments to Movement (M2M), Duke Health's collective stand against systemic racism and social injustice.

“After the killing of George Floyd, we heard the call for action, both around the world and among our own people,” said A. Eugene Washington, MD, chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and president and CEO of the Duke University Health System (DUHS).

A series of solidarity walks honored the moment, and then a movement began to grow. A group of frontline team members designed anti-racism badge reels and pins. We looked back at our history. And there were candid conversations about race, seen through the experiences of Black men, Black women and allies.

“We’re now moving from a phase of learning toward a phase of accountability and advancement,” Washington said.

Joining Washington during the presentation were William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, DUHS executive vice president; John Sampson, MD, PhD, PDC president; Katie Galbraith, MBA, FACHE, Duke Regional Hospital president and interim head of community health; Rick Shannon, MD, Duke Health chief quality officer; and Rhonda Brandon, DUHS chief human resources officer and senior vice president.

Go to Warpwire to watch the video and here to access the slides. A FAQ about the initiative can be found on the M2M site.

DUHS, the Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke University School of Nursing have each created plans for change. This town hall covered the DUHS plan, which will focus on people and environment, patient care and community health.

“We have to take a hard look at ourselves and own up to where we still fall short,” said Fulkerson. “We are actively looking for gaps in our performance so we can live up to our belief in diversity and become an even better place to work and to receive care.”

Analyzing data is one way we are identifying areas for improvement. Brandon shared that the 2019 Culture Pulse survey revealed that Black or African American colleagues feel less of a sense of belonging than their white coworkers. To gather more data, work teams plan to hold focus groups and listening sessions, and to review policies and processes to make sure they are equitable and just. 

“We want to ensure an environment in which everyone feels like they belong,” Brandon said.

Shannon said data is also being used to address inequities in clinical care and community health, such as the fact that people of color are much more likely to be impacted by COVID-19. Pursuing more equitable outcomes is a foundation of how Duke will define quality, moving forward. “We cannot be the provider that we aspire to be unless Duke excellence applies to all,” said Shannon.