MANCHESTER, NH March 3, 2021— Network4Health (N4H), a collaboration of more than 40 area healthcare providers, announced its initiative to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion among its member organizations. N4H was established in 2016 to improve access to and delivery of behavioral health services in the greater Manchester, Salem, and Derry areas. This diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program is yet another way to improve healthcare and mental healthcare outcomes for residents.
Peter Janelle, Executive Director of Network4Health states, “Through this initiative, Network4Health will support our partners to create culturally effective organizations that are staffed by ‘informed and aware’ individuals who strive to create environments of respect, integrity, and caring. We are hoping that this effort will help our partners build and leverage a diverse and inclusive workforce that mirrors the communities they serve; Promote equity and decrease disparities in access to healthcare and other social services which will result in better health outcomes for our region’s residents, and reduce stigma and acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals.”
Geoff Vercauteren, Network4Health’s Director of Workforce Development, states that, “In July of 2020, members of Network4Health’s Steering Committee agreed that issues around diversity, equity, inclusion – and more specifically racism – needed to be elevated in our region. Since these factors have significant impact on health outcomes, they asked Network4Health to conduct interviews with our partners find out what is being done, assess what is needed, and design a plan for training and education in these areas.
The results of the focus groups found that several N4H agencies have realized that they need to increase their organizational competencies in the areas of diversity, inclusion, racial/social equity, and racism, and are committed to doing so. However, agencies fell across the spectrum in terms of their readiness to address these issues, and their capacity to do so.
Partners identified areas where they could improve their DEI capabilities including things like: Hiring and engaging diverse staff; Creating equitable company policies; Understanding how bias effects our communities and the ways they deliver services, and how organizations can establish themselves as sensitive to these issues not just through public statements, but also actions.
To help with the work, Network4Health engaged the services of James McKim and Organizational Ignition. McKim, current president of the Manchester NAACP and Managing Partner of Organizational Ignition, is a trainer and thought leader on diversity, equity and inclusion. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is not just about race or culture. It’s about how we promote understanding and respect of all people – no matter if they look like us or not, no matter if they come from the same economic background as us or not, no matter if they have struggled with addiction or mental health issues or not.”
McKim will be conducting a series of workshops for Network4Health members over the course of many months. In addition, McKim will be available to work with Network4Health organizations 1 on 1 on things such as improving hiring practices in order to promote diverse, recovery-friendly workplaces; How to make staff feel welcome and respected; Hardwiring respect for diversity; and creating equitable policies throughout an organization.
McKim hopes the work will help organizations understand how they can establish themselves as sensitive to these issues not just through public statements, but also actions.
He is eager to help partners ‘get to the starting line’ on diversity, and then take things to the next level. “Network4Health’s vision is to enable all residents — regardless of income, race, ethnicity, language, ability, gender, or identity — to have access to affordable, high-quality, medical and behavioral health services. But we know that to achieve that vision, our partners must not only understand the needs of our diverse communities, but also have the capacity to serve them effectively.”
About Network4Health: Network4Health (N4H) is a 43-partner integrated delivery network (IDN) established as part of NH’s 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver. IDN Region 4 is comprised of 18 communities surrounding Greater Manchester, Derry and Salem. Catholic Medical Center (CMC) acts as the lead agency for Network4Health. Find out more at https://idn4-network4health-nh.org.