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Guest essay: Building an inclusive organization at Glens Falls Hospital

Guest essay: Building an inclusive organization at Glens Falls Hospital

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Glens Falls Hospital is committed to becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive employer and health care provider by creating an environment that recognizes and embraces the unique backgrounds, differences and voices of our workforce and communities. That work has come to life through our Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Last year, like many others across the country, we recognized the need and responsibility to be a positive force for change. As a large employer and pillar of the community, we knew we could and should do more to be a leader on this critical issue. Silence was not an option.

Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t programs or initiatives that have metrics or numbers attached. This is about people. To truly make an impact, DEI must be part of who we are as an organization and at the forefront of how we interact with our patients, their families and each other. This is a culture shift, and we are committed for the long haul.

Since forming the committee last July, we have made important strides in building the foundation of our work. Our committee comprises a passionate group of GFH employees from many backgrounds, representing departments across the organization. The hard work, dedication and teamwork this committee has demonstrated in a short time is proven through its accomplishments.

When we launched the committee, we worked quickly to make incremental and meaningful changes that have built a solid foundation for what’s to come. Some examples of these include gender-neutral bathrooms, a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and colorful signs that adorn the hospital’s front door in multiple languages, assuring people that “All are welcome.”

These small but tangible steps raise awareness of that culture shift and further inspire people to consider what they can do to be more inclusive.

We have also developed a program to promote “ally-ship,” a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. Members of the committee and other interested employees can complete training to become an ally and receive a visual badge buddy, indicating that they are equipped and eager to lend a listening ear to anyone who needs a confidential and safe space or person.

These efforts, among others, are paving the way for our future environment of inclusion.

As one of the largest employers in the region, we aim to become a community leader in diversity, equity and inclusion. We know that we cannot achieve that goal alone, and we are interested and eager to partner and collaborate with other organizations that share in our commitment and can lend their voices and expertise to this work. For example, we’ve recently started working with Cerner — our electronic medical record system — to pool resources and expand their operations to reflect patients’ unique identity and needs.

While we know inclusive language is just one step, little steps all add up and contribute to positive change. This work is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are just getting off the starting line. At the end of our race, we will be an organization where all patients and employees feel safe, heard and respected.

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