In the past few months, we’ve navigated the increasing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and engaged in meaningful, overdue conversations sparked by the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of police – one of the many atrocities in a long line of violence. As a behavioral health provider, we understand that physical and mental health are directly impacted by the effects of racism and trauma. Since our beginnings over a century ago, our mission has always been to serve vulnerable members of our community, including those who are overlooked and underserved by traditional health systems. We do this by living out our core belief that whole person health – aligning both physical and mental health needs – is the foundation for a healthy life.
That said, recent events and the systemic disenfranchisement and racism levied at Black people and other people of color have compelled urgent reflection. How can we better serve our community? How can we better empower our teams? The intersection of health and service is one of the foundational elements of community well-being, and we recognize the importance of using our leadership to drive necessary change.
And, that change starts with us. Here are some of the specific ways that Compass Health plans to address disparity and racism to ensure our organization not only reflects our mission of integrated, equitable care, but also actively lives and embodies those value daily:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: At Compass Health, we believe that diversity and inclusion shouldn’t just be a phrase used during internal conversations or on our hiring materials. Fostering true diversity, equity and inclusion requires actionable steps to build a strong foundation for culturally responsive care. We also know that we might not have all the answers, and that’s why we’re working with a DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) consultant to help us foster meaningful change. We plan to use this partnership to identify areas where we can further improve our team’s understanding of complex racial issues and the cultural sensitivities of our client care strategies. The consultant will also work directly with our board of directors to identify opportunities to enhance our policies and procedures, including board recruitment. This will enable us to generate deeper levels of understanding and growth at every level of our organization and, as a result, the communities we serve.
- Supportive Internal Communication: We want to make sure that our teams have an adequate platform to communicate what is important to them in a designated, safe space for these conversations. With a new internal communication platform in place, we’ve provided our teams the space and support they need to share ideas, new strategies, and aspirations – building a community that better reflects the very voices that make our organization great.
- Health Equity Committee: In order to foster continued development, we’ve also created a new Health Equity Committee. The goal of the committee is to examine health disparities, including those based on racial iniquities, and design, coordinate and organize health equity activities that will support change across our organization and communities, and help ensure the well-being of those we serve. Specific activities include monthly meetings where members will identify differences in health outcomes and opportunities to reinforce health equity. These findings will then be shared with Compass Health’s leadership team. This committee is designed to not only champion ongoing reflection and plans for improvement, it will also allow us to benchmark our progress and chart a path for the future.
These are just a few of the initial steps we are taking to hold ourselves responsible for enacting change. We also want to reiterate that we’re prepared to do the work – not only today, but into the future – and pledge to continue to evaluate our role as a community-based behavioral health provider to ensure we’re providing equitable care. We will continue to share updates of other initiatives as they are implemented.