Summit Highlights Diversity and Inclusion

Published in Dome - December 2015

The newly established Johns Hopkins Office of Diversity and Inclusion gathered nearly 80 leaders from across Johns Hopkins Medicine in early November for a daylong summit devoted to discussing ways to achieve health care equity and a deeper cultural understanding of the needs of patients and employees.

Hospital executives, physicians, postdoctoral students and other professionals from The Johns Hopkins Hospital gathered at the Mt. Washington Conference Center with colleagues from Sibley Memorial and Suburban hospitals, as well as Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Also present were nearly 20 human resources managers.

“Johns Hopkins Medicine has a firm commitment to equity,” Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, told the group. “We’re not yet where we want to be, but we’re committed to getting there.”

Recruiting and retaining diverse workers, students and trainees is a key part of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s strategic plan. Rothman and Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and EVP, Johns Hopkins Medicine, established the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to address race, gender and other inequities in the hospital system.

According to Johns Hopkins data, since 2009, the number of underrepresented minorities on the school of medicine faculty has been slightly below the national academic medical center average of 8 percent.

Although Hispanic and African-American hires more than doubled since 2000, the fastest growing group of newly hired faculty is Asian-Americans. The school of medicine’s classes of 2016–2018 comprised 44 percent white students and 37 percent Asian and Asian-American students, while Latino and black or African-American students stood at about 9 percent each.

“This can’t be just diversity for its own sake,” said James Page, chief diversity officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine. “What we do has to make Johns Hopkins better.”

The summit was organized by Page and diversity director Eloiza Domingo-Snyder.

Summit sessions were led by Domingo-Snyder; Thomas “Ty” Crowe, director of spiritual care and chaplaincy; and Lisa Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities. Individual breakout sessions presented vignettes of negative situations encountered by patients, employees and community members, where participants considered ways to better approach health care equity issues. Participants also discussed how to improve the institution’s policies and practices, including the cultural, linguistic and spiritual training of clinical and nonclinical employees.

“Having James and Eloiza lead us toward a more diverse and inclusive community is like coming upon a spring in the desert,” says Barbara Cook, medical director of The Access Partnership. This program provides care to uninsured and underinsured patients who live in neighborhoods surrounding The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Hopkins Bayview pediatrician Lisa DeCamp works with Centro SOL, which is dedicated to providing care for Baltimore’s Latino community. She attended the summit and saw it as a step to bring coordination to disparate efforts.

“There’s a lot of work around diversity and inclusion going on at Johns Hopkins,” she says. “Lots of people don’t know each other. This is a great way for us to begin coordinating.”