When Alan Channing took the helm of Sinai Health System in 2004, the Chicago safety net system had made modest strides in diversifying its board of trustees. But with minority representation on Sinai's board hovering around the 10% to 12% mark, Channing wanted to do far more to recruit diverse candidates.
Located on Chicago's West Side, Sinai serves an overwhelmingly minority patient population, many of whom are low-income. Roughly 92% of the patients treated at its flagship facility, 290-bed Mount Sinai Hospital, are black or Latino, according to state data from 2010.
That diversity needs to be reflected on the hospital's board, said Channing, who retired in June as the system's CEO.
“Someone from the North Shore of Chicago is not going to be able to understand the needs of North Lawndale as well as someone who grew up in the community,” he said, referring to higher- and lower-income Chicago- area neighborhoods. “If you're going to address the needs of your patient base, one of the most effective ways to do it is through governance.”
Sinai's new CEO, Karen Teitelbaum, called board diversity “essential to the well-being of the health system.”