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Celebrating Juneteenth

By Michael Wiechart, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Juneteenth is widely recognized as a celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States, but there is more to the story. It actually recognizes the day, June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger and the Union troops landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This “news” was almost three months after the official end of the Civil War, and amazingly, a full two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States and became official on January 1, 1863.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day, celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.

If there’s anything this past year has taught us, it’s that the battle for racial equality, justice and equal opportunity for all is a never-ending effort. Although it has been challenging to say the least, I am grateful that we at TeamHealth have broadened our perspectives and created greater awareness.

As healthcare professionals, we inherently care about people – whether that be in a hospital or outpatient facility, within our families or in our communities. Together, we can magnify our mission to care for others, particularly our African American friends and colleagues, who still today endure racist acts, hateful speech and systemic injustice. I am confident that over the past year, we have taken action to recognize where these issues might occur, but injustices must not only be recognized, but also must be intentionally and rigorously acted upon.

TeamHealth’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

Our TeamHealth Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Dr. Stan Thompson, Chief Clinical Officer, LifePoint Group; Dr. Jody Crane, Chief Medical Officer; and Eric Norman, Chief Human Resources Officer, continues to build a culture of trust and celebration of the differences that make our team members unique and valuable. Some of the actions TeamHealth has taken include implementing bias training and making improvements designed to further ensure that our compensation policies are equitable and that our recruitment efforts are inclusive. Our company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity runs deep across the organization, yet we must strive to do more and be better – always. Ultimately, this starts with each of us as individuals.

Some action items all of us can take:
  • Continue to check on your African American friends and colleagues
  • Rise above divisiveness whenever and wherever you encounter it
  • Take the Implicit Bias test to find out your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation and other topics

My hope is that we continue to listen and learn from one another and strive to make improvements as we grow together.