Diversity, equity and inclusion at CHoR: A Q&A with our new vice chair
October 21, 2022
CHoR's Dr. Karen Hendricks-Munoz smiles with CEO and ACNO

    Diversity, equity and inclusion at CHoR

    The health of ALL children is the very reason CHoR exists. Every day, our diverse teams care for kids of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds—and their families too. We not only focus on providing the most compassionate and equitable care today, but on addressing and overcoming the impacts of discrimination on our children and making improvements for the days ahead.

    To ensure this important commitment remains at the forefront, our physician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Pediatrics Dr. Shari Barkin has named Dr. Karen Hendricks-Muñoz to the inaugural role of vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusion.

    “We want every patient, visitor and team member to feel welcome and valued at CHoR. To do this well takes great attention and intention,” said Dr. Barkin. “Dr. Hendricks-Muñoz is an ardent and compassionate leader. Her intrinsic passion for this work, relationships with teams and families, and experience as deputy director of the VCU Center on Health Disparities make her the perfect fit for our new DEI leadership role.”

    In addition to guiding efforts at CHoR, Dr. Hendricks-Muñoz will interact with Dr. Marcelle Davis, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for VCU Health System, along with the health system’s DEI team and steering committee to ensure consistency and collaboration across the enterprise.

    Dr. Karen Hendricks-Muñoz shares how she plans to keep DEI at the heart of CHoR

    What does the role of vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusion at CHoR mean to you?

    This role is a testament to our commitment to inclusive and equitable health care for all children and families. The challenges we faced over the past couple years with the pandemic highlighted health inequities that have contributed to the loss of thousands of lives. They’ve reinforced the need for everyone to stand together to benefit us all and optimize health care delivery and discovery.

    Health care organizations and institutions of learning are a microcosm of our society. They have the power to change and contribute to a more open, diverse, equitable and inclusive society and way of approaching care that is vital to optimizing health and saving lives.

    Attention to DEI is important in our clinical care not only for those we touch directly at CHoR but through advocacy, policy and scientific advancement that impacts families’ health everywhere.  

    Why is it important that we have this leadership role at CHoR?

    As the safety net children’s hospital for the state of Virginia, this important clinical care responsibility is one that my colleagues and I take very seriously. It was one of the reasons I joined CHoR in 2012 from New York. We are committed to working with our health colleagues in the state to elevate children’s care as well as contribute to discoveries in all areas of medicine so children and families throughout the state and nation will benefit.

    CHoR also is a leader in contributing to the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. DEI crosscuts everything we do in clinical care, education, research and advocacy in improving public health. Creating this leadership role provides an additional method to continue elevating our health care work for children. 

    How is DEI baked into who we are at CHoR?

    Diversity, equity and inclusion was embedded in our fabric from the early incorporation of Children’s Hospital of Richmond in 1917 when Dr. William Tate Graham, the “father of CHoR,” cared for all children afflicted by polio without regard for race, culture or economic need in his basement. Today, Virginia is a state with great diversity of young and old, and varied race, ethnicity, gender, culture and beliefs. At CHoR our diverse leaders, team members and providers leverage our expertise to advance inclusive and equitable care for every child and their family regardless of their background.

    What are your goals for CHoR in terms of DEI?

    I’m very excited to work with my colleagues in advancing equity and inclusion at CHoR. To do this, I have reached out to colleagues around the country, and I’ve joined with some of our talented faculty right here at home in the development of a CHoR DEI council. We will use the council’s voice to address short- and long-term opportunities to assure positive, inclusive and equitable advancement across the clinical care environment. This will include quality and safety in the workplace as well as collaborations with our research and education teams to ensure inclusive contributions to scientific discovery and training for the next generation of medical providers.

    Can you share some examples of DEI projects?

    Beyond the development of the CHoR DEI council, I am working with our service leaders across the Department of Pediatrics to assure CHoR has an inclusive culture for respectful collegial collaboration, education and clinical care at all levels. This is so important as we continue the great groundbreaking work we’re doing to advance care, promote discovery and educate the next generation.

    Taking care of this personal space where we meet every day, with the goal of elevating our communication and engaging diverse minds, continues to make CHoR a place for being our authentic selves, regardless of our age, gender, race, culture or personal beliefs, and knowing that our special talents will be included and important for the task at hand.

    What do you want our teams and patients to know about your passion for this work?

    As a neonatologist I am by nature an optimist. I’ve been fortunate to see and be part of the incredible health care improvements that have changed the lives of children and their families over the years at CHoR and across our nation. For me, this role provides focused opportunities to continue to be an investigative leader at CHoR with consistent, intentional goals to uncover opportunities to personally advance equitable health care. It also allows me to support CHoR faculty in their personal visions for optimal clinical care, health care discovery and education in leaving no child behind.

    Making health care opportunities and life better for children and their families is at the core of my beliefs and anchors me to who we are at CHoR.

    Learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion at CHoR.

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