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By Sara McCloskey

Nowadays a term many hear in the workplace is “DEI,” which stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. These might sound like company buzzwords, but at VCU Health — they’re not.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values embedded in all aspects of VCU Health’s mission to increase access to health care for all Virginians, and beyond. But what does that work actually look like for team members and how does it affect patients?

Healthy with VCU Health, a podcast where VCU Health providers share practical tips and the latest technology, innovation and research, has launched a new series on the health system’s DEI initiatives and their impact on health care.

In the first episode, Marcelle Davis, DSL, vice president and chief diversity officer for VCU Health, and Marlon Levy, M.D., interim CEO of VCU Health System and senior vice president of VCU Health Sciences, discuss how organizational commitment to DEI has a positive influence on patients, workforce and the community.

“We wanted to create this special series for Healthy with VCU Health for two main reasons,” Davis said. “First, we want to openly and transparently discuss health disparities that exist in health care. The second reason is to really identify solutions that we at VCU Health are currently pursuing to close that gap.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.”

When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, Levy shared how VCU Health approaches these values.

“Diversity and inclusion are not just critical to who we are and what we do,they are essential to our very identity. It’s an absolute fact that we have a very diverse workforce and very diverse patients,” Levy said. “Equity means that all parameters of healthcare are really the same, regardless of your social or economic background. That doesn’t mean lowering standards to the least performing members of our community, but rather raising the standards so everybody has the highest achievable standards in terms of performance.”

The first episode of the series launched in June, with new episodes expected in September, December and next March. Each episode will focus on health equity and bridging the gaps in the different areas VCU Health team members are championing, such as clinical trials and care for specific patient populations.

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