Diversity Grand Rounds explore social determinants of health, disabilities, religious diversity

Diversity Grand Rounds explore social determinants of health, disabilities, religious diversity

Penn State Health Diversity Council representatives are taking action to advance diversity, equity and inclusion by hosting Diversity Grand Rounds for the workforce. Here are some highlights from sessions held in the fall of 2023: 

Disability inclusion

Holy Spirit and Hampden medical centers featured a powerful presentation on the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Bart DeLone, chief deputy attorney general of the Civil Appellate Litigation Section, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, shared his strategies for overcoming the challenges of having a disability, which include assertiveness and confidence in presenting yourself for a position. He was joined in the presentation by his twin brother, Dr. Bret DeLone, vice president of medical affairs and surgical director of quality and patient safety at Holy Spirit Medical Center.

Respecting religious diversity in end-of-life care

Leaders from various faiths shared their perspectives on end-of-life care to help staff better support patients in their final days as well as their family members. Participants gained a better understanding of the individual needs of patients and ways to offer compassionate care while respecting a patient’s religious traditions. Imam Elsayed Ashour and Rubina Tareen of the Islamic Center of Reading shared information on Islamic practices, Claude Azar provided the Jehovah’s Witnesses perspective, Rev. Michael Baal represented the United Church of Christ, Rabbi Brian Michelson discussed Judaism practices, and Rev. Msgr. Thomas Orsulak explored the issue from the Catholic viewpoint. The event took place at St. Joseph Medical Center.

January 30, 2024Penn State Health News

Several Hershey Medical Center departments also held sessions on diversity issues.

Social determinants of health impact

The Hershey Medical Center Finance Department looked at diversity, equity and inclusion through the lens of social determinants of health.

Robert Thomas of the Thomas Consulting Group shared that health outcomes and life expectancy are directly affected by factors other than personal choices and genetics. Ashley Visco, Penn State Health Community Health director, described the health system’s outreach efforts to several counties in the region and how staff can join one of the outreach task forces.

“It’s sobering to realize that disparities in mortality are tied to differences in ZIP codes, but it’s also empowering to identify tangible interventions that can impact that reality,” said Julie Nickell, Hershey Medical Center vice president and chief financial officer, who coordinated the session.

Overcoming barriers to inclusion and diversity

Dr. Algin Garrett, former dermatology chair at Virginia Commonwealth University and a nationally renowned Mohs surgeon, talked about his life growing up Black in a small town in West Virginia, the challenges he faced in his efforts to become a doctor and how he overcame them. The session with Garrett illustrated that many people who have faced lifelong racial discrimination have powerful, often painful stories within them and yet show up every day with grace, courage and strength. Drs. Jeff Miller and Claire Hollins of the Dermatology Department interviewed Garrett, who started two endowments for Mohs fellows and faculty.

Three people are seated at the front of a room in front of curtains and a monitor

Dr. Claire Hollins, from left, and Dr. Jeff Miller interview Dr. Algin Garrett during the Dermatology Department’s Diversity Grand Rounds session, as Penn State Health CEO Steve Massini appears virtually. Photo credit: Dr. Shantelle Griffith, first-year Dermatology resident.

Navigating challenges at work with a disability

In a session led by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services, Dr. Marley Doyle, associate professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska, discussed her experience as a psychiatrist living with a visual impairment. Doyle reflected on how that experience has shaped her outlook in her workplace and life, emphasizing the importance of workplace inclusivity.

Pregnancy care for women with disabilities

Dr. Anne Berndl, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and associate scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute and director of the Accessible Care Pregnancy Clinic, explored issues facing pregnant women who are living with different types of disabilities, such as paralysis, limb and spine defects, and motion limitations. Berndl offered strategies for health care providers to help manage a disability and pregnancy at the same time. The talk was part of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Diversity Grand Rounds.

More Diversity Grand Rounds planned for 2024

The Penn State Health Diversity Council is planning additional Diversity Grand Rounds in 2024. These educational sessions are open to all Penn State Health employees, and many offer Continuing Medical Education credits.

Diversity Grand Rounds provide a forum for departments, hospitals and other entities who are part of the Diversity Council to share best practices and seek input on their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The council includes representatives from all five hospitals, Penn State Health Medical Group, Shared Services and the majority of clinical departments within Hershey Medical Center.

For more information, email the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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