In the wake of last week’s election, we have heard concerns from hospital leaders across the country about heated conversations and tense emotions among hospital and health care staff, and even in waiting rooms among patients.
As hospital leaders, it’s important to be mindful of how political and social tensions might be carried into the hospital space. It’s a good time to acknowledge these dynamics, but refocus energy on patient care by avoiding and diffusing heated conversations. Make sure your staff understand that disrespectful comments — even on one’s personal social media platforms — can be seen as a reflection upon their professionalism and their hospital.
We also need to reassure our patients that their care won’t be influenced by their political beliefs or surrounding circumstances. In the past, some policy makers and initiative writers have asked WSHA to support discrimination against patients. For example, hospitals have been asked to refuse care for undocumented immigrants, to report undocumented immigrants seeking care to immigration authorities, or to judge people’s worthiness for care based upon the conditions surrounding their illness or injury. We will not do this. We also will continue our focus on increasing health equity and reducing unconscious bias.
Our commitment is that Washington state residents– all Washington state residents– have access to high quality health care. This means that both care givers and institutions must commit deeply to acting compassionately for anyone who needs us, without judgment.
And sometimes, through the compassionate delivery of health care by someone who looks different or holds beliefs different from the patient, relationships will be formed, bridges will be built, stereotypes will fall and strong communities will grow.
WSHA Executive Vice President and incoming President and CEO