‘I Belong’ plan at hospitals from Ajax to Bowmanville to foster a safe and equitable culture


Published July 13, 2023 at 10:06 am

Lakeridge Health is taking steps to promote an “equitable environment” and culture that is safe for all staff and patients with the introduction of a multi-year ‘Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Anti-Racism’ (IDEAA) action plan.

I Belong is the product of three years of work by the organization about how structural racism and all forms of discrimination intersects with health and well-being and how best to respond.

“At Lakeridge Health, we made a commitment to accelerate our IDEAA efforts in order to promote an equitable environment for all,” said Cordelia Clarke Julien, Chair, Lakeridge Health Board of Trustees, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, police violence, the ‘Me too’ movement, anti-Asian hate, and Indigenous activism as issues that needed to be addressed.

Since 2020 Lakeridge Health has made “great strides” in putting initiatives in place to address the system inequities identified by staff and physicians, including:

  • The establishment of an IDEAA Committee as a standing committee of the Board of Trustees.
  • The provision of self-directed education and facilitated training.
  • Coaching and support for leaders on human rights, legislative matters, and organization development.
  • An internal and external environmental scan on IDEAA.
  • The development of a corporate IDEAA program, which currently includes an operational director and medical director dyad, and program manager. Two additional roles will also be added.
  • Recognizing and acknowledging dates of significance throughout the year.

“As an organization that serves the diverse communities of Durham Region with more than 8,700 staff, physicians, and volunteers, we have a social responsibility to foster a culture where everyone feels they can work and receive care safely, openly, and honestly,” said Lakeridge Health CEO Cynthia Davis. “This IDEAA multi-year action plan builds on our comprehensive engagement and foundational work and formalizes our commitment to IDEAA.”

Lakeridge Health Chief of Staff Dr. Randy Wax said the plan will allow the hospital group to “acknowledge and validate” the experiences of staff, physicians, volunteers, patients, and families, as well as prevent future harms, by embedding an IDEAA lens into the fabric of the organization. “From the moment we begin caring for a patient or the first day someone joins our team, we want each person to be able to say, ‘I belong at Lakeridge Health.’”

Davis acknowledged they are just at the “beginning of this journey” and noted that the path forward “will not always be an easy or straightforward one.” By listening and working alongside volunteers, partners, and the community, “we believe we can put tangible changes in place and develop measurable solutions that will make a real difference to those who look to us for care, as well as those who provide it.”

To learn more about I Belong, check out this video or visit the Lakeridge Health website.

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