Parkland Memorial attempts to increase staff diversity

Two different approaches to promoting hospital diversity were evident in news reports this week.

In Dallas, Parkland Memorial Hospital announced it is hiring a chief diversity officer to try to alter its largely white top management ranks, the Dallas Morning News reported. The move follows heavy criticism from a county commissioner that a hospital that primarily serves minority patients repeatedly hires Caucasian senior executives, the article noted.

Parkland has increased minority representation among vice presidents and higher positions from nine percent in late 2011 to 23 percent today. All seven senior executives are white. Several, including chief executive Bob Smith, are serving on an interim basis while the hospital operates under federal oversight after failing several government inspections related to patient safety in 2011, according to the article.

A corrective-action prompted a 60 percent growth in top management ranks over 18 months, with 11 of 21 new management jobs going to whites, the article noted, citing hospital statistics. Several were promoted from within.

Meanwhile, minorities represent two-thirds of the hospital staff as a whole.

Nationwide, not quite 9 percent of hospital CEOs are minorities, up from less than 2 percent in 1995, the Institute for Diversity in Health Management announced last year.

In Raleigh, N.C., WakeMed Health & Hospitals' manager of employee relations and diversity organizes regular diversity pot lucks in which employees bring dishes representing their national or ethnic heritage.

A recent pot-luck lunch included Filipino spring rolls and chicken adobo, Iraqi dolmas (grape leaves stuff with lamb, onions, rice and garlic), Guatemalan tamales, Chinese dumplings and Jamaican rum cake, the News & Observer reported. Employees talked about their heritage and dishes as they dined together.

They also discuss cultural differences, organizer Anthony Newkirk told the newspaper. "It's a safe way for staff to enter into the discussion," he said, and better understand both coworkers and the increasingly diverse population of patients.

In just the last month interpreters were required for patients speaking Spanish, French, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, German, Burmese, Mandarin, Nepali, Farsi, Amharic and Oromo, a language spoken in Ethiopia, the News & Observer noted.

To learn more:
- read the Dallas Morning News article
- here's the News & Observer story