Plan to Promote Social and Medical Justice Announced

Date: 06/17/2020

Northern Light Health sets plan towards building a strong future for social and medical justice 

This week, Northern Light Health leadership announced their systemwide plan to eliminate racism and other forms of discrimination and promote a strong future for social and medical justice.

In an internal statement, Tim Dentry, president and CEO, Northern Light Health, said, “It is my goal, by this time next year, that we will have identified all explicit and implicit bias within Northern Light Health, and embraced and promoted those ideals that create a system where social and medical justice drives our contributions to society and defines how we make healthcare work for the people we serve.” 

Moving forward, Northern Light Health pledges to take a hard look and come to terms with past failings and the hidden bias that is present within all of us. Dentry continued, “We need to learn that a difficult discussion is a productive one and should leave us with hope for what is to come, rather than sadness for the past. Most of all, we will learn and be ready to speak up when we see bias or injustice. When the situation calls for a gentle reminder or a strong statement, we should feel empowered to make that decision and speak the words that are reflective of a supportive and affirming culture for all.”

James Fullwood, DPM, podiatrist at Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital, who has been appointed as a member of an advisory group to help shape the path forward, shared in an earlier statement last week, “Northern Light Health can be, and I hope will be, a place where racial bias and indifference do not exist. I hope it to be an institution where social and medical justice reigns. An institution that is committed to giving the best care to our patients and support for all employees, open to examining and changing policies that negatively affect the lives of those it serves. Northern Light Health can be the place that no matter your skin color, religion, sexual orientation, social status or job title you will be safe and welcome.”

Dentry has identified the following immediate steps as the start to his long-term plan to end racism and promote social and medical justice:

  • Dentry will conduct ongoing Zoom meetings/dialogue sessions with our colleagues of color and other selected groups. These sessions will be scheduled frequently enough and at various times of day so that everyone who wants to participate can do so. 

  • Human Resources leaders and respective member presidents will conduct meetings/dialogue sessions to best problem solve in the local environments. 

  • Northern Light Health will produce podcasts or vlogs that feature people within Northern Light Health who can help us learn what we need to know to advance justice within our system. The first series of these will be called “8:46,” and will start next week. 

In addition, leaders from within the system will be conducting a full review of the current state to identify immediate action steps that need to be taken. This includes:

  • A review of all policies, trainings, hiring practices, educational sessions and disciplinary actions to ensure they are clear, accountable, have consequences, and back up Northern Light Health’s vision of social and medical justice.

  • A new mandatory learning session for all staff. Northern Light Health will recruit a leader in this field and form an internal advisory council to conduct the sessions, so we can move forward with confidence. 

  • A survey will be sent to all staff in the next two weeks to gauge staff attitude, engagement, and will provide an opportunity to write their own personal experiences.

  • The creation of ongoing forums to provide additional opportunities to hear from all colleagues, especially our colleagues of color or others who are subject to discrimination, to assure we are tuned in and making significant, sustaining progress.

Dentry stated, “This will not be an easy journey, but we will set goals, celebrate our achievements, and overcome our setbacks, as we move forward for years to come. We will keep striving towards progress, until the reason for the journey no longer exists.” 

Northern Light Health can be, and I hope will be, a place where racial bias and indifference do not exist. I hope it to be an institution where social and medical justice reigns.

- James Fullwood, DPM