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Learning from our past to inform future actions

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At VCU Health, we are committed to treating all patients with dignity and respect. That said, we acknowledge that there have been times throughout our history when we have fallen short of this goal and damaged the trust communities place in us.

We recently ratified a diversity, equity and inclusion statement that will guide the future of our institution. As part of it, we vowed to fearlessly accept criticism and continuously learn from our mistakes with transparency and humility. Our history can teach us valuable lessons to make VCU Health and the communities we serve better places. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion statement

All members of the VCU Health community prioritize individual dignity and strive to promote a culture of diversity, inclusivity and equity in a supportive patient care, learning, research and work environment.

Every VCU Health patient and their family, as well as our team members and learners, deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and professionalism.

We are committed to creating a community that recognizes and embraces diverse backgrounds, identities and lived experiences. We will not tolerate or condone discrimination.

We are also committed to delivering health care in a manner that respects diversity and inclusivity with the full intent of ensuring an optimal patient experience and achieving better health outcomes for all.

We will actively work to dismantle systemic racism and inequalities that may be entrenched in our health system.

Our commitment is relentless, and we seek to be faithful to it in all our actions. We will fearlessly accept criticism and continuously learn from our mistakes, with transparency and humility throughout this journey. Together, we will make VCU Health a better place, be a stronger community partner, and earn the trust of all.

Our first heart transplant

Chip Jones’ book, “The Organ Thieves — The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South,” gives us a new opportunity to reflect and learn from the circumstances of the first heart transplant at VCU Medical Center (formerly known as MCV) on May 25, 1968.

We look forward to reading the book and engaging in open and honest discussions about what we have learned from this era in our history, how we can contribute to the healing process, and how we can continue to grow.

Our transplant program today

Over the years, we have become a trusted provider of transplant services to minority patients, with our heart transplant program being a national leader in providing life-saving care to Black patients.

Our commitment to current and future generations

We have participated in a number of listening and learning sessions to best inform our long-term diversity, equity and inclusion plan. We are currently working on the plan, which includes the following priorities:

  1. Develop a governance structure to support all diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

  2. Create a sustainable infrastructure, including the creation of an office of diversity, equity and inclusion

  3. Conduct self-assessments to determine any gaps in our policies, procedures, practices and services.

  4. Continue to implement strategy, development, action planning and execution on initiatives that are foundational to our health system

  5. Develop and implement ongoing education and training programs

How we reflect and communicate our history to the current and future generations of patients, students and team members is important. As part of this process, we have taken the following actions:   

  1. We have extended an invitation to Chip Jones, the author of “The Organ Thieves,” to join us for a virtual book reading and panel discussion to foster greater understanding of our history.

  2. We have started a dialogue with leadership of the East Marshall Street Well Planning Committee to learn more about their process of engaging the community to inform meaningful action.

  3. VCU’s School of Medicine has taken action to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in its medical education curriculum, setting the foundation for more robust long-term changes.  For example, orientation for first-year medical students includes a new series of panel discussions about the history of Richmond, the East Marshall Street project and health equity in our community. First-year medical students also learn about historical trauma in their first semester and discuss how racism versus race is a risk factor for medical conditions.

  4. We started the process of creating a series of conversations and educational activities to help us explore our past, understand the historical context of practices that occurred, such as the first heart transplant, and ensure that our present and future activities are informed by these historical events.

As we continue to listen, learn and grow, we are committed to take other actions to improve our plan and the relationships with our patients, students, team members and the communities we serve.

 

Learn more about VCU Health's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for both current and future generations