I am very pleased to announce that Paula L. Houston, Ed.D. has agreed to be the founding executive leader of a new UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity, effective July 1, 2020. Her new title will be Chief Equity Officer, UW Medicine and Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington. Paula currently serves as Director of Healthcare Equity for UW Medicine, and she is exceptionally well qualified to lead equity, diversity and inclusion activities for UW Medicine. I am looking forward to working directly with Paula as she launches and leads the new UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity.
Plans for the new Office of Healthcare Equity were developed by a committee led by Drs. Tim Dellit and Patricia Dawson. After a review of UW Medicine’s equity, diversity and inclusion programs, their committee recommended that we consolidate the work of the School of Medicine’s Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI) with UW Medicine’s Healthcare Equity Program to form the new organization. CEDI and the current Healthcare Equity Program will be discontinued on July 1, and their activities will be incorporated into the work plans for the new office.
The new UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity will be an integrated system-wide program to support our mission to improve the health of the public and promote equity, diversity and inclusion across all aspects of our healthcare system, research and educational programs. UW Medicine aspires to being a national leader in healthcare equity for all patients regardless of age, race, ethnicity, country of origin, language, religion, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and socioeconomic and mental/physical status; creating a diverse and inclusive workplace; and improving the learning environment in the clinical, classroom and research settings. As UW Medicine’s Chief Equity Officer, Paula will be working with leaders across UW Medicine to develop and implement plans to advance our work in all of these critically important areas.
Dr. Houston believes that this is a very important time in history to focus on healthcare equity. She said that “during this time of crisis, the inequities in our healthcare system are magnified and the plight of those populations who have been historically marginalized, oppressed and who are truly vulnerable, is exacerbated. From lack of access to COVID-19 testing in those communities to the disparities in chronic underlying health conditions, the effects of this pandemic are devastating to many who even in the best of times are not well served by our health system. A heightened focus on our equity work now, is imperative if we are to truly deliver on our mission to improve the health of the public. To address the current crisis and advance our work to become the national healthcare equity leader we envision, we must do our work with more system-wide efficiency, consistency and accountability. The integration of the current structures that are leading this work into the new Office of Healthcare Equity will allow us to achieve this goal. It is a privilege and an honor to lead the evolution of this work in these times when it is needed now more than ever.”
Paula and I look forward to broad engagement from our community in the development and implementation of the work plans for the UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity. Please follow The Huddle for further information and communication regarding the plans. And thank you for your commitment to our mission to improve health for all people!
Paul G. Ramsey, MD
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington