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M Health Fairview creates HOPE Commission to lead health equity efforts

M Health Fairview announces the creation of the HOPE Commission, a group that will continue our work dismantling systemic racial and gender discrimination in healthcare.
(From left) HOPE Commission leaders Taz Mustapha, MD; Diane Tran; and Christopher Warlick, MD, PhD.

The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder still looms large over our community. As a society, we are engaged in conversation with new urgency about how to heal, change, improve racial equity and reduce other forms of discrimination. It is a conversation we are having across M Health Fairview—Fairview, University of Minnesota Physicians, and the University of Minnesota Medical School—and how we move forward, together.

Against this backdrop, we learned late Friday that the federal government is eliminating protections for transgender Americans seeking care in our health systems. This, during a time when we should be collectively taking steps forward toward equality and justice, not back.  Statistics show that already as many as one in three transgender Americans report experiencing discrimination in healthcare–a number that is significantly higher for transgender people of color. This is yet another example of the type of systemic racial and gender discrimination we must dismantle. 

Let us be clear: M Health Fairview is committed to building a system where ALL members of our community are treated with dignity and respect and ALL patients receive the highest levels and quality of care.

The path to transformation begins with our values and ensuring they are evident in our work every day.  Last week, we shared with you that we would be assembling a group of MHF team members to help us do that. The focus of this cross-functional team is to ensure we are doing our part to dismantle the structural racism we know exists, and that we know impacts health and health care. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Michelle Morse, MD, MPH, and Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD, experts in the field of transformational medicine, appropriately describes the challenges we face and the work that needs to be done:

“In fact, our clinical training has the potential to create a mindset that directly conflicts with the visions espoused by social movements. Clinical training creates a mindset of urgency; a focus on short-term goals and on fixing and curing; an expert identity, sometimes with distaste for being challenged; and risk aversion. These attributes are, for the most part, necessary and desirable in clinicians, but they can be counterproductive in the context of social movements. The social transformation that movements seek requires long-term vision, building power for enacting change over time rather than implementing rapid solutions, humility, a willingness to take chances despite uncertainty, and a learning mindset.” 

To that end, we have asked leaders from Fairview, M Physicians, and the University of Minnesota Medical School to come together to lead this effort, and help us to seize the opportunity before us.

  • Taj Mustapha, MD (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics practicing hospital medicine at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center and serves as the Director of Clinical Coaching for the medical school as well as the Associate Program Director for the Med-Peds Residency Program in the Department of Medicine. She has a deep investment in the success of trainees across the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center. Her experience witnessing the inequities faced by her learners, patients, and colleagues helped shape her work and research on equity and inclusion in the clinical learning environment.

  • Diane Tran (she/her/hers) is Senior Director, Community Engagement at M Health Fairview overseeing the organization’s community relations and community collaborations work. She led the HealthEast Neighborhood Integration 2020 System Strategy including development of the East Side Health and Well-being Collaborative and its co-designed, co-implemented programs including East Side Table and Cultural Brokers. She has been a Racial Justice Facilitator with the YWCA’s It’s Time to Talk Forums on Race, served on the United States of Care Health Equity Pathfinders Group, and co-founded LOCUS, a local resource network created for and by people of color. The daughter of refugees, Diane is acutely aware of the influence of place in shaping an individual’s life and opportunities, and is committed to building the capacity and resilience of this place, the Twin Cities and Minnesota, in partnership with community leaders and organizations.

  • Christopher Warlick, MD, PHD, (he/him/his) is Associate Professor and Chair of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Urology. He has been on faculty since 2007 and focuses in urologic oncology with an emphasis on prostate cancer, including disparities in prostate cancer outcomes in African-American men. He serves as the co-director of the research core of the Center for Healthy African-American Men through Partnerships (CHAAMPS)–an NIH funded research collaborative center at the University of Minnesota and University of Alabama with community partners the 100 Black Men of America, the National USA Foundation, and the NFL.

They have collectively chosen to name themselves the HOPE Commission. HOPE stands for Healing, Opportunity, People, and Equity. They have set forth the following mission for their work:

James and Jakub have stated the importance of M Health Fairview clarifying how we live out our vision, mission, and values in the current context. To that end, the HOPE Commission will lead an effort to engage the Fairview, M Physicians, and Medical School communities in being imaginative and explicit about how the organizations apply their resources to the various roles they play: as an employer, healthcare provider, research and education institution, and corporate citizen. Our hope is to build relationships and trust, within and outside of our walls, and a greater ability to produce excellent, equitable health outcomes for our patients and communities. 

This Commission will develop a sustainable process to create space, listen, learn, and, importantly, act. The goal of this Commission is not to fragment, replicate, or disregard previous work or existing efforts underway across the system, but to honor those current efforts and bring them together; providing urgent purpose, strengthened resolve, and new momentum behind this critical work. This effort has our full support and backing.

As they move forward, the commission will share more about their work and goals, and provide ways for our employees and community to share input, feedback, and experiences. This effort is one that must be collective, calling on each of us to hold a mirror to our health system and to ourselves for how we can commit to making lasting change.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees and the families we serve have shown unimaginable grit and determination. We also know that, for so many, it has been taxing. Know that we see you, and we thank you for being part of our M Health Fairview community.

In gratitude,

James Hereford
President and CEO, Fairview Health Systems

Jakub Tolar, MD
Dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School and M Physicians Board Chair