EDISON, N.J., March 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive health network, is proud to announce that CEO Robert C. Garrett signed the CEO Action Pledge in support of advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reducing health care disparities in the communities the 17-hospital network serves.
"New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation and we are deeply committed to ensuring that there is equality and opportunity for all in our hospitals and care locations,'' said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. "The network also has a robust and comprehensive strategy to eliminate unacceptable outcomes based on race and ethnicity, a challenge for our entire nation.''
To date, nearly 2,000 CEOs across the country have signed this pledge, which outlines specific actions to cultivate a trusting work environment, expand unconscious bias education and create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with boards. Collectively these CEOs committed to take bold action and drive progress for inclusion and equality, address racism and injustice in our workplace and communities, and mobilize the business community collectively across industries and regions to enact change.
Equally important is the network's initiative to eliminate outcomes based on race and ethnicity, which were especially pronounced in the pandemic.
"The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare a sad truth in American healthcare – too often outcomes are based on zip code,'' said Avonia Richardson-Miller, EdD, MA, BS, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. "People of color are dying at rates much higher than white patients throughout the nation and we are working aggressively to change this.''
The pledge is just the latest step the network has taken on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the network. Other major initiatives include:
In response to the racial and social unrest after the George Floyd tragedy in 2020, HMH piloted its Listening To Understand (LTU) Campaign, facilitating difficult conversations among team members and leadership.
Establishing a network-wide goal for 2021 tying executive compensation to measurable metrics focused on increasing the representation of underrepresented team members in leadership positions at HMH targeting Black, Latinx and Asians.
Appointing the first African-American male to HMH's Board of Trustees. John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, who is a board member and former chairman of the board for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, with 150 affiliate chapters and more than 15 international affiliates, joined HMH's Board in January 2021.
Appointing the first African-American female to lead HMH's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department. Avonia Richardson-Miller, EdD, MA, BS, was promoted to Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in January 2021, replacing Wayne Boatwright, who served for 15 years as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the network.
Appointing HMH's first African-American female Vice President of Social Determinants of Health. Nicole Harris-Hollingsworth, EdD, MCHES, joined HMH in August 2020, and leads the development and implementation of network wide social determinant of health strategies across the HMH network.
Nine of our hospitals have earned the Healthcare Equality Index Certification. This designation signals to LGBTQ patients and allies that the healthcare facility has met the foundational elements of LGBTQ patient-centered care.
Launched Maternal Health Blue Ribbon Task Force to address unacceptable disparities in maternal outcomes in New Jersey. The Maternal Health Awareness symposium in January included participation by NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy.
Partnering with a major insurer to provide more preventive and coordinated care in communities where gaps in outcomes are especially pronounced.
Recruiting minority volunteers for COVID vaccine trials because it is so important that research prevail for all communities. Expert physicians met with clergy and other leaders in the Black community to encourage participation. More than half the volunteers in the Moderna trial are people of color, well beyond the national average.
The network is utilizing those same outreach efforts to encourage the communities to receive the vaccine as well. Hackensack Meridian Health conducts individual COVID19 community webinars targeted to Black, Latinx, Asian and other People of Color, focusing on addressing the unique concerns of those communities. Additionally, we launched public service campaigns featuring icons in sports and entertainment urging all communities to get vaccinated.
Through the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the network is working to make sure New Jersey's physicians reflect the communities they serve. Only 5% of physicians are African-American in the U.S., even though African-Americans make up 13% of the population. In the latest class, nearly 25% are black or Hispanic. A diverse physician workforce will get us closer to improving health outcomes for all communities.
"We are deeply committed to making sure high-quality health care that's convenient and affordable is an option for all Americans, not just the privileged or the lucky,'' said Mr. Garrett. "We are proud of our efforts to diversify our work force and board representation and are working continuously to build on this success.''
ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.
Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children's hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.
Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 36,000 team members, and over 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The network's notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker's Healthcare's "150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019" list.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine opened in 2018, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its third class of students in 2020 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.
Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.