UCLA Health Leading the Way in Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
// By Brian Griffin //
A prominent West Coast health system is building a care environment, work culture, and community presence that takes health equity, diversity, and inclusion to the next level.
UCLA Health is emerging as a national leader in addressing racial inequities in health care and across society.
In light of growing local and national awareness, the health system became one of the first health care organizations in the country to form an Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. “It’s perhaps the most visible part of an enterprise-wide commitment to confronting the problem,” says Mikel Whittier, director of health equity, diversity, and inclusion (HEDI). “This included creating my position and appointing UCLA Health’s first physician chief executive to oversee and guide our HEDI efforts.”
The death of George Floyd, the growing recognition of the urgent need to confront racial inequities in society and health care, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and chronic conditions on people of color were key catalysts for the moves, according to Whittier.
“We knew the moment presented an incredible opportunity to shape and lead internal and external dialogues in order to educate our staff and community, craft concrete plans, and enact immediate change,” says Whittier. This led UCLA Health leadership to adopt three HEDI strategies: (1) build new structures and practices to promote anti-racism, inclusive excellence, and equity for all people; (2) improve the clinical experience of patients through accessibility, cultural humility, and affirming and just care; and (3) invest in the community through education, service, advocacy, and financial resources.