Posted Friday, February 19, 2021, UC Davis Health Friday Update

Dear Colleagues,

UC Davis Health is a vibrant, multi-layered, dynamically diverse community making a positive difference locally, regionally, and nationally through our research, education, and public service. What makes our great community work are the relationships we have with each other, our patients, and our communities. We strive to treat those around us with dignity, inclusion, and respect. We do this best by not just treating others as we would want to be treated, but by treating others as they would want to be treated.

This is reflected by the theme of the Principles of Community Week 2021: “cultural humility,” a concept introduced by Melanie Tervalon and our own Jann Murray-García, which reminds us that every person and family that walks through our doors brings their own cultural context, perspectives, and needs. It also reminds us that by lifting up their voices and examining the impact of our own contexts, perspectives, and actions, we can foster these healing relationships and create an atmosphere of dignity, equity, and inclusion.

Next Monday’s (Feb. 22) Principles of Community Opening Ceremony kickoff celebration will include remarks from UC Davis leadership, including our very own Dr. David Lubarsky, Vice Chancellor of Human Health Sciences and UC Davis Health CEO, as well as myself. Please feel free to join us virtually. This will be followed by a week’s worth of interesting and engaging events brought to you by dedicated staff from the health system and campus with guidance from the Principles of Community Planning Committee. These events include film screenings, cultural humility and DEI seminars, leadership discussions, and an Employee Resource Groups (ERG) virtual fair.

While we’ve made progress as an institution on these fronts over the years, we’re also keenly aware that there’s so much more to learn about and improve upon. In this sense, the Principles represent an institutional compass that guides our Office for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, each and every day in the work we do.

In the past year, our HEDI team has worked with partners to plan and take action to address structural racism and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. We developed a 4-point plan that includes things that we have done or are doing, things that we will do, and things that you and your department can do. You can find our action plan here. We consider this a living document and will update this as we identify new strategies and make progress on existing actions. The Principles also guide UC Davis Health in its mission to care for the underserved and address health inequities in our very own Sacramento neighborhoods.

Our Anchor Institution Mission (AIM) for Community Health seeks to harness the advantages of being Sacramento County’s second-largest employer to increase community prosperity and strengthen the social infrastructure in our surrounding neighborhoods, which have been underserved for decades. AIM is just one way UC Davis Health is working with local allies and partners to reverse systemic and structural racism and discrimination. If you’re interested to learn more, please visit our AIM website and join us on Feb. 25 at the UC Davis Virtual Small and Diverse Supplier Expo.

To live up to the spirit of the Principles, we need to continue to improve access to care for the disadvantaged, while leveraging UC Davis Health’s institutional resources to improve the economic vitality of our locally underserved communities. We can truly serve as an "anchor" for these communities that are buffeted by socioeconomic instability and problems of health equity, and by doing so, we’ll make profoundly meaningful differences in the lives of so many people right here in Sacramento.

Because we are an academic health center, the importance of the Principles of Community is magnified in all we do and all whom we encounter. In our own halls, they mean every individual has the right to fully participate in university life: Every person is valued equally, and the ability to question, disagree and to think new thoughts is at the core of everything we do at a university.

During these times of social unrest, racial pain, and political polarization, all taking place against the backdrop of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, it is important that we take a more inclusive, self-aware, and compassionate approach to addressing the needs of people, cultures and societies everywhere, and by doing so, the Principles of Community can help us to connect others in a diverse mosaic of people working together for shared purposes.

Finally, all our patients and employees deserve to receive the best empathy and humanity as possible. Given who we are and what we do, these Principles of Community could almost go without saying. They are an innate part of us, and they make UC Davis Health better, and they make us better at caring for our patients, working with our colleagues and teammates, teaching our students, and opening our hearts to everyone in our local community who needs our help. Please enjoy celebrating our Principles of Community!

Yours in health,

Hendry Ton, M.D., M.S.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion