As we navigate the turbulence of the past few months, I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for positive stories and progress to buoy my spirits.

It is important, of course, that we pay close attention to what’s happening across the country as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism and inequity, and that we try to understand it, learn from it and use it as fuel for self-improvement. In fact, it’s our moral duty.

It’s also OK to take a moment to celebrate the good things that happen, even if they often feel overshadowed by the tumult.

Earlier this month, the LGBTQ+ community (and its allies) had reason to celebrate when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from firing an individual merely for being gay or transgender. The practical result of that decision is that it gives workers the right, no matter where they live, to be free to come to work as their true selves.

The decision reminded me that earlier this year, St. Charles applied to have all four of our hospitals listed on the 2020 Healthcare Equality Index, a nationwide guide to workplaces that promote LGBTQ+ health care equality. The results have not yet been announced, but based on our completion of the survey, we’re confident we will earn a score that will place us at the top level.

I’m very proud of our progress on this front, and I want you to know we didn’t get to this point by closing our eyes and wishing. It took a lot of hard work by many people – including our IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Acceptance) Council and our SOGI (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity) workgroup – who have helped St. Charles address LGBTQ+ health care disparities and provide an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ patients and caregivers.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision and in celebration of Pride month, St. Charles Senior Vice President and Chief Legal and Risk Officer Darren T. Binder wrote an essay about the significance of the ruling, our pursuit of health care equity and the changing legal landscape for the LGBTQ+ community over the past couple of decades. I really appreciate Darren’s expertise and perspective, and I would strongly encourage you to read it for yourself.

It would be a mistake to tout these accomplishments without also acknowledging that we can do better. St. Charles is responding to the events of recent weeks by embarking on a journey to learn, grow and understand issues related to diversity, inclusion and equity. While it’s not our first foray into this territory, I see and hear from many of our caregivers a renewed interest in pursuing progress in a deep and meaningful way. So we scheduled a moment of quiet reflection across the health system last week, we have encouraged our caregivers to share their thoughts on racism and social justice issues, and we’re using that information – confidentially, to be clear – to help plan a series of caregiver meetings in July. I can assure you that our leadership team is committed to investigating where we fall short in these areas, listening to our diverse populations, educating ourselves and looking for opportunities to better reflect our communities.

It’s not easy work but it is worth it. I believe it is an essential step in our journey toward truly caring for all.

Thank you for journeying with us.


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