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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within the Maine Medical Center Pediatrics Department

An urgency to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within academic medicine has accelerated over the last several years, as repeated events of racism, sexism, bigotry, ableism and other forms of discrimination both within healthcare systems and within society as a whole have gained national attention.

DEI Mission Statement

As a pediatric department, we aim to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice by identifying and addressing factors or systems in place within and outside of our healthcare system that create and/or perpetuate health and workplace inequities. These efforts are meant to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce that feels a sense of value, safety, and belonging within the department and to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients.

MMC Pediatric DEI Committee

Barbara Bush Children's HospitalThe Pediatric Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center is a group of pediatric residents and faculty that works to create a more diverse and inclusive environment within our pediatric residency program, pediatrics department, and associated clinical venues with the goals of fostering improved relationships between healthcare professionals and with patients and families and ensuring safe and accommodating work and patient care environments.

This group appreciates that the children we serve are increasingly diverse with differences that may include race, ethnicity, preferred language, religion, disability and special health care needs, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other identifiers. Celebrating the diversity of children and families and promoting nurturing, inclusive environments means actively opposing intolerance, bigotry, bias, and discrimination. We are committed to using policy, advocacy, and education to encourage inclusivity and cultural humility for all.

We are committed to recruiting, supporting, and promoting talented, diverse individuals as residents, faculty and staff and fostering a work environment that embraces interprofessional collaboration, promotes inclusiveness, and treats all with dignity and respect.

Our objective is to cultivate a pediatric department that reflects the patients we care for, understands the ways in which systemic inequalities impact our patients and their families, and commits to working towards equity and justice for both its work force and patients through mentorship, community engagement, recruitment, and education.

A future goal of the committee is to expand our membership to create an interprofessional team with which to address the above aims.

For any questions about DEI initiatives within the MMC Pediatrics Department, please contact the Chair of the Pediatric DEI Committee, Amy Buczkowski MD, at abuczkowsk@mmc.org.

MaineHealth physicians and residents kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Maine Medical Center.

MaineHealth physicians and residents kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Maine Medical Center.

Previous DEI initiatives within the Pediatrics Department include:

  • Development of an interdisciplinary Health Equity curriculum of case-based discussions to encourage learning about the impact of structural racism, inequities within our healthcare system, and how implicit bias affects patient care.
  • The Pediatric Hospital Medicine group partnered with the Gender Clinic for a quality improvement initiative to improve the care of LGBTQ+ patients and families by increasing provider education about care of LGBTQ+ patients.
  • Pediatric faculty and residents often participate in local activism events, including a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Maine Medical Center (pictured below) and Pride events.
Two internal medicine-pediatrics residents join the Black Lives Matter demonstration at Maine Medical Center.
Two internal medicine-pediatrics residents join the Black Lives Matter demonstration at Maine Medical Center.

DEI initiatives are being championed at many levels within MaineHealth, including the appointment of a MaineHealth Vice President of DEI in February 2021 and development of DEI committees within Graduate Medical Education, the Maine Medical Center Institute for Teaching Excellence (a faculty development program), and Academic Affairs. Through these efforts, we have accomplished the following at our institution:

  • Development of a 3-year MaineHealth DEI strategic plan.
  • Development of a virtual curriculum available to medical staff on Health Disparities, Social Justice & Cultural Humility,
  • Development of a strategic plan to recruit a more diverse and inclusive workforce within graduate medical education.
  • Faculty also have access to additional webinars and resources to learn about DEI topics, such as anti-oppression approaches in medical education, racial health inequities, and micro-aggressions through our affiliation with Tufts University School of Medicine.
Pediatric hospital medicine physicians gather in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Maine Medical Center.
Pediatric hospital medicine physicians gather in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Maine Medical Center.

We also recognize the importance of celebrating and supporting the diversity of our local community and the surrounding areas. We serve an international population in the hospital and in our clinics. Per the United States Census Bureau, in 2019, 11% of Portland residents (and 4% of Maine's overall population) were born outside the United States, arriving from all regions of the world. Students of Portland Public Schools alone speak 65 different languages at home. We also serve patients from a variety of urban, suburban, and rural areas, as the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland provides definitive pediatric care for children in greater Maine and areas of New Hampshire.

Immigrant Health

  • Maine Medical Center is a federally-designated health center for new immigrant arrivals to Portland and to the United States.
  • MaineHealth works closely with Catholic Charities, the federally-designated organization in Portland dedicated to resettling refugees, to provide medical care for new refugees to the area. We also serve immigrants looking to seek asylum, those approved for asylum, and those seeking green cards or other forms of residency in the US, regardless of immigration status.
  • The Greater Portland Welcome Immigrant Group, Maine Access Immigrant Network, Portland Public Library, and many other organizations in Portland offer opportunities, resources, and other assistance for new arrivals in the city, as well as ways for volunteers to get involved.

LGBTQ+ Health

  • There is an inclusive and supportive LGBTQ+ community at Maine Medical Center and in the greater Portland area.
  • Organizations such as Equality Maine and Maine Transgender Network support and promote the causes of the LQBTQ+ community throughout the state.
  • Our Electronic Medical Record now includes a "Preferred Pronouns" heading next to each patient's name and date of birth.

Pediatric Resident Experience

  • Within the patient population of our Pediatric Resident Continuity Clinic, 59% of patients speak a primary language other than English.
  • Pediatric residents complete a rural primary care rotation to experience practicing medicine in remote communities and, while on the Inpatient Pediatric Unit, frequently field calls for advice from providers practicing hours from definitive pediatric care.
  • Pediatric residents interact with many different communities during their adolescent rotation, including: