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A more intentional approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion

From left to right: Dr. Julian Surujballi, Anya Marion and Patrick Dusabimana

If there is one thing we have learned as an organization, it’s that equity, diversity and inclusion isn’t something you set out to achieve. Rather, it is an ongoing process that requires adequate resources to allow for continuous dialogue, listening – and action.

That’s why, in the summer of 2022, The Ottawa Hospital solidified its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) by formalizing roles that would help support the work of its existing EDI Council.

In September, Anya Marion took on the position of Coordinator of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. By December, Dr. Julian Surujballi and Patrick Dusabimana were appointed as the EDI Council’s new co-chairs. With direct executive support, they are now working together to move the EDI Council’s important work forward, for one of the largest academic hospitals in the country.

“Given that our organization is built on a foundation of providing the best care possible to our community, it isn’t always easy to acknowledge our shortcomings when we look at ourselves through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion,” says Marion. “But we also know that by looking them in the eye, this is the only way we will ever be able to fully achieve our vision, which is to treat everyone like we would treat a loved one.”

Marion, Dusabimana and Surujballi have hit the ground running. In December, they released a work plan and recruited more than 80 new members to the EDI Council. Over the winter months, the council worked together to design project charters that will address things like outreach, incident reporting, and education – all through the lens of EDI.

This group has also become more involved with how the Hospital can more authentically recognize dates of significance, such as Black History Month, by consulting people with lived experience, and collaborating with these communities to identify tangible acts of change. For example, after a successful Black History Month panel discussion, a list of 14 Calls for Change, have since been shared with staff at the Hospital.

Currently, the EDI Council is building a Communities@TOH Network, designed with the intention of creating spaces where people with similar identities and lived experiences can connect.

“These groups are all about empowering our staff and giving them an outlet for creating meaningful change at the Hospital,” says Surujballi. “It means a lot to me that Anya, Patrick and I can help facilitate this ground-up approach.”

Following Black History Month and International Women’s Day, the council has invited staff who identify with these groups, to form respective communities within the hospital. With Pride Month around the corner, the council is already engaging with people from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

“We aren’t just listening, but we are working hard to find ways to make The Ottawa Hospital a more welcoming, respectful community for everyone. This means creating and nurturing a culture where every single person knows they have an important role to play,” says Dusabimana. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, we are all leaders. The past few months have given me a lot of hope for what we can achieve together at The Ottawa Hospital.”

Fact Box

To support The Ottawa Hospital to advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility as a strategic priority.

  1. Address the systemic racism, discrimination, and inequities pervasive in the health care system
  2. Advance a culture of belonging for everyone where we foster accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion that reflects the people we serve.

The functions of the EDI Council are to:

  1. Develop and integrate initiatives within the EDI Council Work Plan
  2. Influence and impact relevant policies and procedures
  3. Support work being done across the organization in alignment with the EDI Council’s purpose.

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