Hank Winter 2016

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From the Desk of Henrietta: Healing a World of Hurt

Why we need both diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion. Without both, we each tend to identify with our own clan—be it defined by race, gender, age, economic status, what have you—and all the other clans remain other.

Diversity without inclusion permits an accumulation of biases that leads to a world where, as one recent study showed, minority patients are up to 30 percent less likely to receive pain treatment in emergency rooms than whites, even though they report pain just as frequently. This matters: Pain slows healing and can create new health problems. Sadly, this huge gap in treating pain is just one example in a long list of health disparities linked to cultural biases.

Inclusion—finding what we have in common, appreciating diversity instead of ignoring differences—is key to eliminating disparities and delivering high-quality health care.

As Ron Copeland, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of National Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Policy, says, “I don’t believe you can have passion for true quality or service excellence without also being genuinely passionate about diversity and inclusion practices. They’re one and the same.”

How do you get good at inclusion? Practice seeing what you have in common with others. The Labor Management Partnership’s unit-based teams—whose membership cuts across all demographics—do this daily as they use interest-based problem solving. As this issue of Hank shows, a natural next step is to address how to deliver the best possible care to all our members.

It takes only one person or one small group to spark meaningful change. Be that person. Be an active member of your team.

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