As part of its ongoing effort to ensure all people feel welcome at its facilities, St. Charles Health System has named Dr. Shilo Tippett as its first manager of caregiver inclusion and experience.

Tippett will oversee the organization’s work to establish and grow a culture of inclusion, diversity, equity and acceptance (IDEA) for St. Charles patients and employees – work that is central to the health system’s vision of creating America’s healthiest community, together, said Jody Saffert, director of People and Organizational Development for St. Charles.

“We already had a grassroots effort of caring, compassionate and committed caregivers who wanted St. Charles to be a more inviting and inclusive place to work and receive care,” he said. “Securing resources and action behind this commitment is what advocates of this work want and need to see. It can’t just be words on paper – action is needed.”

Tippett is a Central Oregon native, a resident of Madras and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Before taking her new job, she spent seven years practicing as a clinical psychologist at St. Charles’ Madras Family Care Clinic, where she had daily interactions with the people in her community. But when she saw that the health system was hiring an IDEA manager, she knew it was her opportunity to make a broader impact on St. Charles and the region it serves.

“There’s a lot of research showing that bringing in more people with different backgrounds and experiences brings more creative ideas and satisfaction to a workplace,” Tippett said. “And the more diversity we have among our caregivers, the stronger we’ll be and the better care we’ll provide for our patients.”

Bringing more diverse workers to a predominantly white area will be a challenge, but Tippett believes St. Charles’ status as Central Oregon’s largest employer means the organization has an opportunity to make an outsized impact on the community by leading the way.

“If we start to set the tone for what diversity and inclusion looks like in our communities, we are definitely going to make a difference,” she said. “It's not going to happen overnight, of course. It’s going to take a sustained effort. But when I think about how much St. Charles can accomplish on this front and how we can affect Central Oregon, I’m excited about it.”

Tippett will work closely with the health system’s IDEA Council, a group of caregivers that formed five years ago to focus on IDEA-related initiatives at St. Charles. The caregivers are passionate about the work, but they all fit it in around their other personal and professional duties, said Carlos Salcedo, co-chair of the council. That means people come and go as they are able, which has affected the group’s ability to keep projects moving forward.

With Tippett on board and dedicated to the cause, Salcedo expects the IDEA Council to gain and maintain momentum on projects such as improving the health system’s interpretation and translation services. At the same time, he cautioned against expecting one person to shoulder all of the work.

“We’ve identified her as a person to lead this effort, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely on her to do it. That’s not representative of an organization that’s equitable,” he said. “It’s on all of us to show up and do the work.”

Tippett is intent on gaining traction, however. One of her primary goals in her new role is to increase what she calls the health system’s “belonging score,” which measures how much caregivers feel like they are welcome at St. Charles, that they are heard by leadership and that their ideas are valued. Toward that end, she and her team are developing programs to educate managers and physicians on inclusivity, incorporating IDEA concepts into the health system’s orientation for new caregivers and annual education requirements for all caregivers, and investing in IDEA training for key roles within the organization.

“We’re doing more than just talking about this stuff,” Tippett said. “We’re taking action.”

Saffert said he’s excited not only that St. Charles has someone on board to lead IDEA work, but also about what Tippett brings to the position.

“Her clinical psychology background, her experience as a behavioral health provider, her lived experience within Central Oregon and her passion for inclusion and equity make her the ideal person for this role,” he said. “Also, her desire to learn and to be an inspirational activist makes her the perfect candidate to help with this ongoing, worthy journey of creating a welcoming and inviting place for all.”

That’s a journey supported by St. Charles’ top leadership, the Executive Care Team, including President and CEO Joe Sluka.

“More than a century ago, the women who founded St. Charles promised Central Oregon that this organization would care for all people, or it would care for none,” Sluka said. “I am proud of the work we are doing to be a health system that is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accepting, and I believe it’s our next step toward upholding that commitment to care for all.”