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Thank you for being a part of MEDiversity Week!

Thank you! Those two words cannot express enough the gratitude our team has for all of our presenters, speakers, panelists, event partners, planning committee members, and attendees. Without all of you, the 2020 MEDiversity Week: Disparities & Equity in Healthcare would not have been possible.

There is not enough print space to share the many highlights and learning moments throughout the week’s events, but I will do my best to fit as many of them as I can.

Throughout MEDiversity Week, we honored the recognition of November as Native American History Month with events like our weekly Community Read session focusing on “Ramifications of Historical Health Disparities in the American Indian/Alaska Native Community.” In a discussion led by Franci Taylor, Director of the American Indian Resource Center, our participants learned more about the barriers that exist and persist for indigenous folks in the United States to receive consistent, culturally sensitive, and high-quality care. Throughout the month, the focus on American Indian/Alaska Native health will continue every Tuesday at 12pm via Zoom.

We had the honor as well to host College of Health and Native American Research Internship (NARI) program alumna, Cynthia Wilson, MS, and learn about her work with the Native-led non-profit Utah Diné Bikéyah as the Traditional Foods Program Director to “document Native wisdom, understand local food systems…[and] restore traditional food practices.”

Jared Spackman, MPAS, PA-C and Grant Sunada, PhD, MPH, BA with the Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) shared their journey to center equity, inclusion, and anti-racism within the program as they navigated national trends and local issues. In consultation with Kilo Zamora, MSW, the PA Program’s “promising practice on its way to a best practice” is a model to look to for how we all ensure this work is built into the structure of our departments, classrooms, and professional lives.

Steven Bell, PhD and Michelle Miranda, PhD, MPH each provided us a glimpse into the worlds of recreational therapy and neuropsychology. They presented how these disciplines can be incorporated into health care plans creating holistic approaches to treating patients, and also showed us where the gaps still lie in ensuring that care is culturally competent.

Our Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dr. Michael Good, took the time to address our U of U Health community on where we are with initiatives to address our institutional racism. He also provided updates on the newly-formed commissions that have been tasked with policy review and change. Dr. Good took time at the end of the presentation to answer attendee questions and comments on where they would like to see more forward progress be implemented.

While we, like so many other institutions, still have a long road ahead of us, we did include celebrations of those who have been changemakers as part of the week. In partnership with the Utah Film Center, a virtual screening of the documentary Quiet Heroes provided a look back at the work of Kristen Ries, MD and Maggie Snyder, PA-C, who provided care to stigmatized patients with HIV and AIDS during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Ending the week on a high note, the Office of the Associate Vice President for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion awarded its annual Inclusive Excellence Awards to five outstanding members of the University of Utah Health family. The awards honor and recognize their commitment to reducing health disparities and putting equity and inclusion at the center of their work. The 2020-2021 Inclusive Excellence Award Recipients are Donna Eldridge, Danielle Perez, Dr. Charles R. Rogers, Dr. Gloria Slattum, and Dr. Reena Tam. Once again, a big "Congratulations!" to these folks as well as our deepest thanks for the inspiring work they have done and continue to do.

If you missed any of these events, there are recordings we have made available to watch and revisit the incredible work being done on our campus and in our communities. Please be sure to visit our webpage for that event week archive. Additionally, we encouraged folks throughout the week to donate to Utah Navajo Health System and support their work on the Navajo Nation. If you have not done so already, please visit their website and donate today.

Thank you again, because it cannot be said enough, to everyone who helped make this first week a success. We look forward to seeing you all next November for our 2nd annual MEDiversity Week!