CEO Message: MultiCare’s commitment to addressing racism and injustice
The senseless killing of George Floyd on May 25, and the many other such unnecessary acts of violence against black members of our communities, are stark evidence of the horrible consequences of the racism and injustice that have long been part of our society.
Watching these events unfold, I have been profoundly reminded that my life’s experiences have inadequately prepared me to understand the lived experience of my team members who are black or in another minority group and with whom I am privileged to associate and serve.
The events of the past week have reinforced the need for MultiCare to enhance our commitment to addressing inequities in our communities and in our own organization. We believe everyone deserves the same opportunities to live a healthy life without racism, injustice, discrimination, and violence.
Because of this, it is essential that I, as an individual, and MultiCare, as an organization, listen to the voices of lived experiences of our employees so that together we can seek to provide the best care for all of our patients and create an organization where racism, injustice, discrimination, and violence have no place, and where all of us are fully valued and included.
We must confront these issues directly, acknowledge the problems that exist and talk openly — in a manner consistent with our values — about solutions.
Specific actions MultiCare is taking now to help our organization on this journey toward solutions include:
- Holding a Vigil of Silence: Two weeks ago, at 6:17pm PDT, the events that led to George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police officers were unfolding. On Monday, June 8, we invited MultiCare employees to join together at 6:17pm in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to honor the memory of George Floyd and all those who have lost their lives due to racism and injustice.
- Inviting Feedback: While we have declared our intent to have interactions that are free from discrimination and harassment, we also know that MultiCare still has work to do to end structural racism. We’ve heard from employees and patients that there’s a desire for more conversation and better understanding about what we can do, and so we’ve asked employees to submit their thoughts to a designated email inbox, or to myself directly. This input will be used to help us shape the next steps we will be taking as we move through this challenging time together. Topics we are seeking to learn more about include:
- What is your experience as a MultiCare employee?
- What are your ideas to improve the patient or employee experience?
- How can MultiCare be a better advocate for change?
- What other suggestions do you have for us?
- Hosting Listening Sessions: We will provide opportunities for dialogue through virtual town hall meetings we’ll be scheduling for employees where we can discuss issues of racism and injustice as we all work to be part of the solution. We’ll use these conversations to identify places where structural racism is present and create solutions.
- Convening an Advisory Group: We are creating an advisory group made up of front-line team members to review employee feedback and suggestions and help MultiCare create a better future.
- Supporting Peaceful Advocacy: We support peaceful advocacy in our communities and on our campuses. This is a time when many of us want to advocate for change and call attention to the health implications of structural racism and we are encouraging our employees to discuss ideas with their supervisors if they have department-level events they would like to organize.
- Committing to Further Engagement: We are committed to continue to engage with our team members and our communities and to further develop plans that help us successfully navigate toward a more just and equitable future.
As we work together as an organization to be part of the solution, we will always act in harmony with and in the context of MultiCare’s Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategies; our Standards of Conduct; and our Policies and Procedures. And, we will listen, evaluate, and adjust these as necessary.
We recognize that as a human organization, perfection is not possible, and that this journey towards a more just and equitable future requires intentional commitment.
Finally, as a non-profit organization, we are stewards of the important community resource that is MultiCare. We are and will always seek to act in a manner that preserves our organization’s capacity to meet the needs of all our team members, patients, and communities.
My thanks to the communities we serve that are also stepping up and taking on this difficult work. It will take all of us working together to effect change.
About The Author
Bill Robertson has served as MultiCare's President and CEO since May 2014. He came from Adventist HealthCare, Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Prior to Adventist, Robertson served as CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City, Kansas. More stories by this author