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The nation’s only essential conference

June 22-25

Track: Executive Leadership Lessons

Expand each session below to see the full descriptions or download the full agenda.
  • Leadership Lessons: Combating Racism and Creating Inclusive Health Systems
  • Building a Foundation for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • It Takes A Village: Partnering to Provide Pandemic Child Care for Staff
  • Honoring the Most Trusted Profession: Registered Nurses
  • A Few Minutes with Us—A CEO’s COVID-19 Communications Journey
  • Ingraining Equity Into Quality and Safety: A Systemwide Strategy
  • Staff Wellness and Resiliency
  • Creating a Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Leadership Lessons: Combating Racism and Creating Inclusive Health Systems

Susan Ehrlich, MD, MPP
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA
President and CEO
University Hospital

Leon Haley Jr., MD, MHSA
UF Health Jacksonville

Lisa Harris, MD
Eskenazi Health

In the wake of 2020, health systems have begun to recognize racism as a public health crisis. The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, as well as the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, laid bare severe disparities afflicting communities of color.

This interactive session will feature leaders of four major health systems working to eliminate systemic inequities in their organizations. The panel will focus on the challenges these leaders face as they work to implement new policies and practices to build a diverse workforce at all levels, create an inclusive workplace culture, and eliminate health care disparities.

Building a Foundation for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Mini Swift, MD
Vice President, Population Health
Alameda Health System

Ishwari Venkataraman
Adira Management Consulting

The intersectional nature of systemic and structural racism impacts every health system, perpetrating constant threats to the well-being, and in some cases the very survival, of patients, providers, and communities of color. To successfully serve all, we must focus targeted efforts on communities that have suffered the longest and deepest wounds from systemic racism.

In this session, speakers from Alameda Health System, in California, and Adira Management Consulting will discuss how to develop sustainable, systemic approaches to evaluating the state of health equity, diversity, and inclusion in your organization. Learn best practices for establishing a robust, ground-up initiative to advance these goals.

Attendees also will hear about a yearlong effort at Alameda involving more than 100 employees, physicians, and community members to establish a firm foundation to sustain and build on inclusivity strategies.

It Takes A Village: Partnering to Provide Pandemic Child Care for Staff

Sarah Heck, MBA
Assistant Operations Executive
UK HealthCare

Erika Chambers
Employee Engagement and Work Life Director
University of Kentucky

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Kentucky, UK HealthCare quickly pivoted to support staff by providing options for emergency child care through June. Care was again offered at an on-site center beginning in August to support virtual learning.

In this session, speakers will explore multiple strategies and options to support staff during the pandemic and beyond, including child care and care for school-age children. This presentation will discuss:

  • demand forecasting;
  • alternatives UK HealthCare considered, such as onsite or owned centers versus community partnerships and in-home or nanny services;
  • challenges overcome, including staffing needs, personal protective equipment, state guidance and exemptions, city planning and zoning, employment verifications, and food support;
  • financial model and price sensitivity; and
  • lessons learned related to operating hours, flex schedules, special needs and medications, excess demand and prioritization, and cleaning procedures.
Honoring the Most Trusted Profession: Registered Nurses

Karen Ziemianski, MS, RN
Senior Vice President, Nursing
Erie County Medical Center

Mary Rhinehart, MS, RN
Director, Critical Care Nursing Education
Erie County Medical Center

Nurses at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), Western New York’s only level I adult trauma center, are no strangers to the rigors of high-acuity patients. But even the most seasoned nurses could not have envisioned themselves on the front lines of a pandemic. As COVID-19 cases spiked last year, so did the question of how to best support the whole nurse. When querying ECMC’s nurses, leadership discovered many challenges and opportunities to support front-line staff in a holistic manner. In this session, learn how ECMC used a variety of creative solutions to support the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of our caregivers.

A Few Minutes with Us—A CEO’s COVID-19 Communications Journey

Leon Haley Jr., MD, MHSA
CEO, Dean and Vice President of Health Affairs
UF Health Jacksonville

Learn how UF Health Jacksonville developed, filmed, and distributed more than 130 video segments in nine months to communicate across the hospital system about the COVID-19 pandemic, care delivery changes, and staff safety and morale. Led by the CEO, media relations team, and a videographer, this biweekly update quickly developed into daily updates because they were so effective. Staff received the most current information directly from the highest levels of leadership. As the pandemic progressed, this internal communication tool moved to external communication platforms so patients and families could better understand the work happening across the health care system, including care updates, patient resources, research, education, and community-sponsored events.

Ingraining Equity Into Quality and Safety: A Systemwide Strategy

Lou Hart III, MD
Director of Equity, Quality, and Safety
NYC Health + Hospitals

Komal Bajaj, MD, MS-HPEd
Chief Quality Officer
NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi Medical Center

Eric Wei, MD, MBA
Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer
NYC Health + Hospitals

Linelle Campbell, MD, MS
Director of Equity within Quality and Safety
NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi Medical Center

The COVID-19 pandemic made clear and exacerbated long-studied and documented health care disparities, which have disproportionately devastated low-income and Black, Latino, and indigenous communities across the United States. The subsequent national tragedies involving police brutality further highlighted the need to address these inequities within the essential hospital framework.

Because equity and quality are fundamentally linked, a health system first must focus on advancing equity within its workforce and mitigating health care disparities in the communities it serves to deliver on its promise of improving health care quality for all. By leveraging existing health care infrastructure, all can participate in institutional equity improvement work at multiple levels.

During this panel discussion, speakers will highlight a purposeful, iterative strategy deployed across NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal health system in the United States. Using existing quality and safety structures and applying an equity lens to performance improvement and safety systems, we can proactively confront health disparities upstream. The session will include polling, small-group work, and other techniques to engage attendees in the conversation.

Staff Wellness and Resiliency

Donna Leno Gordon RN, MS, Executive MPA
Staff Wellness Lead 
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County Hospital Center 

Geralda Xavier, MD, MPH, MBA
Chief Quality Officer
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County Hospital Center

“Second victims” are health care providers involved in an unanticipated adverse patient event, in a

medical error, or a patient-related injury who become traumatized by the event. The Helping Healers Heal (H3) program was implemented at Kings County Hospital Center, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to support staff left vulnerable after an unanticipated event or adverse patient outcome occurs.

With the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent state of emergency in New York, the H3 wellness team, with support from senior leadership, sought to expand program support into emergency operations to establish respite options, wellness events, nourishment and debrief/wellness rounds for staff.

Creating a Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Cynthia Bass, BS, MBA
Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Erie County Medical Center

Natalie Sleap, MA
Program Coordinator, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Erie County Medical Center

Stacey Lawson, MS
Vice President, Human Resources
Premier Health

Adrian Taylor
Director, Diversity
Premier Health

Essential hospitals share a mission of ensuring health care for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. From patients to staff, essential hospitals recognize the importance of training, hospital culture, and accountability in achieving this goal.

Learn how leaders at Erie County Medical Center, in New York, worked with the hospital’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to better understand what is necessary to secure equitable and inclusive care for LGBTQ patients and their families. Their work earned them designation as an LGBTQ Equality Top Performer by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Also in this session, speakers from Premier Health, in Ohio, will explore how retention, engagement, and employee experience are inextricably linked to culture. They will share practical tips and discuss strategy formulation and meaningful practices to ensure that diversity, inclusion, and equity are hardwired in your organization.


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