BHCHP's Commitment to Equity and Inclusion
Health equity and justice have been guiding principles at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program from our founding in 1985. In 2019, our Board of Directors along with our Equity and Social Justice Committee voted to amend our Mission Statement to appropriately reflect this commitment: To ensure unconditionally equitable and dignified access to the highest quality health care for all individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our community.
From our earliest days as a program, we have always sought to do work that is transformational: recognizing our shared humanity; centering dignity, compassion, mutual respect and supporting the right of every individual to access the highest levels of health care and every staff member to reach their fullest potential. We continue to be committed to building bridges and breaking down barriers, including systemic racism which harms us all. We provide community-based health care services that are compassionate, dignified, and culturally appropriate, incorporating social determinants of health, with the goal of breaking down the physical and systemic barriers that our patients face.
We remain committed to promoting and sustaining an inclusive environment that is welcoming, supportive, and respectful of the diverse backgrounds and life experiences of both patients and staff without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, military services, national origin, immigration status, genetic information, or marital status. We must and will continue to strive to adapt and improve in our quest to maintain excellence in these areas.
As a program, we continue to recognize our ongoing responsibility to do more to create and sustain an equitable and just environment for our patients and staff. Our longstanding commitment to equity goals became formalized in 2006 when we established our BHCHP Diversity Committee, composed of staff and managers from across our program. This group has since evolved into our Equity and Social Justice Committee. In 2015, we conducted a broad assessment of our diversity climate and saw the importance of creating the senior position of Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. In 2017 we brought on Sonja Spears, JD to fill that leadership role of maintaining a culture of inclusivity, learning, and respect within BHCHP and to be a resource to our partners in the community.
We have made significant strides over the years, but the murder of George Floyd summoned a greater call for action. Achieving equity is a lifelong pursuit and we realize that we must always strive to do more. In 2020, we created the Equity and Inclusion Partner position to support Sonja Spears in her work. Our former AmeriCorps Manager, Morgan Ward, transitioned into that role.
Through the larger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative, headed by our Medical Director, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, and the Equity and Inclusion Partner, our Equity and Social Justice Committee and Immigrant Health Initiative, and our Senior Management team, BHCHP is taking deliberate steps to foster an equitable, safe environment for staff and patients alike. We are critically examining the systemic inequities that drive poor health and unequal access to quality health care, while addressing how structural racism manifests within our own workplace and care model.
We strive to empower staff on their own racial and social justice journeys through a continuous schedule of frequent trainings, discussions, caucuses, expert speakers, and working groups designed to bring racial equity to the forefront of our collective consciousness.
40% of our Board of Directors and our senior management leaders are persons of color.
Creating a space of belonging
At BHCHP we strive to maintain fertile ground for the work of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion so that we move towards the eradication instead of the perpetuation of the harms caused by systemic racism. In doing so we provide every staff person foundational equity literacy learning opportunities which then allow us to build cultural understanding and create a space of belonging for all. We want to make sure all staff members can bring their full selves to work each day and contribute fully to our mission of clinical and health equity and excellence.
BHCHP is proud to have been named a 2019 and 2020 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign. Leader status is awarded to health care facilities that attained a score of 100 in the Healthcare Equality Index. Our commitment to LGBTQ patient-centered care is unwavering, and this award reflects BHCHP's staff-wide efforts and dedication to equity.
Through the leadership of the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, BHCHP has implemented a second full-day of new staff orientation solely focused on equity and includes foundational classes—including active bystander and implicit bystander trainings—as well as tools to support patients for whom English is not their primary language.
Through all these efforts, BHCHP is establishing a standard of excellence and inclusion from within our program, which will both improve our staff's work experiences and our ability to provide the highest quality health care to all patients.
Sampling of Programs and Initiatives
- New staff attend a full day of training focused on justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
- Recognizing monthly observances and cultural and religious holidays
- Encouraging staff to join discussions about the history of health inequities and current events during the workday
- Equity focused Brown Bag Lunches and various related classes
- Cultural Movie nights for BHCHP Staff
- Salary premium for bi-lingual and multi-lingual proficiency
- Equity based employee benefits
- Equity Program Highlight
To learn more about supporting our DEI efforts:
Corporations and Foundations: Colleen Eagan, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals: Sara Pacelle, Senior Director of Development, email@example.com
Interested in getting involved with the BHCHP Equity Efforts?
Check out our “Part of the Story” Book Project:
During one of the many discussions the Equity and Social Justice Committee (E&SJ) hosted, we returned to the knowledge that children as young as four years old begin to absorb societal messages about race and identity. Very often those messages are negative when it comes to identities which are often marginalized. Those ubiquitous messages become ingrained and reinforced throughout our lifetimes in the form of implicit biases.
Currently children of color, children with disabilities and children who are LGBTQIA identifying, are underrepresented in children’s literature. This leaves them without easy access to positive reflections of themselves in the stories they are exposed to. Their absence renders them invisible, which also says something. This new book project aims to validate their presence in the world by providing positive images for all children that reinforce the idea that our differences are to be valued, reflected, and celebrated.
How does it work?
E&SJ is asking for donations of new books for children ages 0-18 that reflect the ideals above. We collect book donations on an ongoing basis and invite each staff person to select one book a month. We also distribute books to children our Family Team cares for.
To help select books, we have created lists which will allow you to purchase books. We request that you consider purchasing from a BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), woman or LGBTQIA owned bookseller, or an independent bookseller (we have some suggestions below) that carries a wide selection of these children's books first. This would have the added benefit of supporting our business uplift efforts to support these businesses.
We have also created a wish list on Amazon for folks who would like to easily order pre-selected titles. If you order from Amazon, you may choose to enroll in their free “Amazon Smile” program which donates a portion of anything you order to an organization of your choice.
Please mail books to BHCHP c/o Sonja Spears at 780 Albany Street. Boston, MA 02118
We thank you in advance for your donation!