How do we meet the diverse needs of our patients, team members and communities? It starts with listening.
COVID-19, activism over systemic racism, and other distressing events around the world have highlighted the importance of listening to those we serve—to their hopes, fears and concerns—and responding through thoughtful planning, followed by action.
Wellstar Health System is one of the largest and most integrated systems in Georgia, with more than 24,000 team members. The last 20 months presented all of us—as individuals and as an organization—opportunities to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by listening to and honoring the diverse voices of those we serve.
Following the disturbing events that sparked increased activism over racial injustice across the country in 2020, we conducted listening sessions that provided feedback on how Wellstar could continue to drive positive, meaningful change throughout our workforce and communities.
Those sessions led to the creation of the Wellstar DEI Advisory Council, comprised of leaders, team members and physicians working to build an environment where everyone feels valued and heard, and where racism and discrimination of any kind are not tolerated. The council works with inclusion councils that represent each Wellstar location and include physicians and other team members from a wide variety of job functions, life experiences, races, genders and cultural backgrounds.
These councils help ensure the voices of our team members are reflected in everything we do and they enable a connected cycle of feedback coupled with action. They also help ensure Wellstar provides safe, high-quality care and service to all patients; supports health equity initiatives for underserved communities; and works to attract, hire and retain top diverse talent that mirrors the communities we serve.
Wellstar is committed to serving communities both inside and outside the walls of the health system. We know that health and wellness are not just about medical care but whole-person and community care. As a leading not-for-profit health system, Wellstar has a role and responsibility to provide for the vital needs of consumers and communities. We value partnerships and programs that facilitate whole-person care, especially for the most underserved populations across our system’s service areas, with an intentional focus on health equity.
After conducting an extensive community needs assessment that identified critical health inequities and disparities affecting people and communities across Georgia, in 2019 we created the Wellstar Center for Health Equity (WCHE). Wellstar has forged strategic partnerships with government agencies, businesses, philanthropies, not-for-profit organizations, academia and citizens.
Through these partnerships, the WCHE has activated resources in the community that have yielded significant impact, including increasing access to healthy food through mobile markets; conducting COVID-19 testing and vaccination for entire families through pop-up clinics; and supporting the technology needs of local not-for-profit organizations to better serve their clients. As a testament to our commitment and impact, in fiscal 2020, Wellstar collaborated with more than 450 partners.
A few months ago, we announced the launch of Catalyst by Wellstar, a new global health and innovation center designed to harness, accelerate and scale people-centric solutions across Wellstar and beyond. A key focus of the innovation center is the vital idea of listening to patients, consumers, team members, partners and others to find solutions that will drive positive impact related to many of the challenges facing healthcare, including intentionally bridging gaps in health equity.
Through feedback and engagement, Wellstar continues to advance our mission of enhancing the health and well-being of every person we serve, today and into the future.