Embracing Our Fellow Citizens and Guests

Date: 06/03/2020

The following message was sent to Northern Light Health employees on June 3, 2020 from the President and CEO, Tim Dentry.

I write today about what we stand for, and in doing so, I have even greater clarity of what I stand for.

As an organization, I know where Northern Light Health stands. We represent and serve all the people of Maine. It’s important that our communities know they can rely on us living up to our quest to be community treasures where we serve.  As healthcare professionals, we promise to treat with compassion, dignity and respect all who come to us, no matter their race, background, or social standing. For healthcare workers, no matter your job, it is a solemn oath. 

The answers to American problems are found by living up to American ideals – to the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal and endowed by God with certain rights. The heroes of America – from Frederick Douglass, to Harriet Tubman, to Abraham Lincoln, to Martin Luther King, Jr. – are heroes of unity. Their calling has never been for the fainthearted. They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation – stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine. We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised.

That is exactly where we now stand. Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.

- Statement by former U.S. President George W. Bush

In times of upheaval, whether it be a public health crisis or the current pervasive social strife in our country, true colors must be flown, and must speak for our character and our love for our fellow men and women. Our ability to continue to serve the health needs of our communities while strife is happening is part of what we stand for, and who we are. I also understand that these are stressful times personally, manifested in different ways, and that it may affect your emotional health and your ability to be present in the ways you usually are. That is understandable. Please reach out to our colleagues through Healthy Life Resources if you need someone to talk to.

I ask you to be sure that we continue to take care of one another during this time. As we all work through these events in our own ways—some of us with quiet reflection and others by engaging in local activism, it will be important to listen. We will be respectful of one another and give one another space to grieve and process the news around us. And, we will embrace and respect the diversity of the Northern Light family and protect and defend the dignity of those we work with, as family.

Through the pandemic, communities have honored healthcare workers as the heroes of the moment.  Let’s capitalize on that mantle and be good role models for peaceful expression, tolerance and acceptance of others. We have the freedom as well as the responsibility to speak up for what is right, and to speak out against wrongs. Each one of us can be a powerful voice for good. 

I spent over a decade before I came to Maine living in foreign lands, like Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates. I was in the minority there; I was different from the local population, at first did not understand their language and customs, and was away from home without family and loved ones. We have colleagues and those we care for who have had similar experiences coming to our world, away from their roots. In my overseas experiences, I was embraced and welcomed, never felt threatened because of the color of my skin or my spiritual or political beliefs. My prayer is that here, we embrace everyone with love and joy, listen and learn from those around us, and be thankful for the diversity of God’s children.

Always remember we at Northern Light have a culture of quality which starts with a culture of caring which has at its core a culture of caring for one another. Every person who works at Northern Light does so with our love, respect and thanks. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Please continue to support and respect each other. A strong community stands for tolerance and respect. Northern Light Health stands for tolerance and respect — and so do I.  

I close with another passage from former President Bush’s remarks on this sad moment in our history:

“This will require a consistent, courageous, and creative effort. We serve our neighbors best when we try to understand their experience. We love our neighbors as ourselves when we treat them as equals, in both protection and compassion. There is a better way – the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Thank you.