Diversity and Inclusion Resources During COVID-19

The rapid escalation of coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unprecedented challenges for academic health centers across the country. The Texas Medical Schools’ Diversity and Inclusion Consortium presents the below guidelines to assist faculty, administrators, health care teams, students and staff on providing supportive, positive, and inclusive communities in the new age of social distancing, virtual meetings/instruction, and interacting with diverse patients, researchers, and others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) acknowledge the differential impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities. Dr. David Acosta, the AAMC’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, reports that these health inequities can be further exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak in AAMC News.

On March 28, the HHS Office of Civil Rights published OCR Bulletin: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs.

1. Video Conferencing. Take measures to mitigate against “Zoom-bombing” and other video threats.  When using Zoom, use the “waiting room” feature for small Zoom events like a dissertation defense. Only people you know, and trust should be allowed to participate. Refer to this Zoom blog for more tips.

2. Be an Ally/Upstander. Reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online. Be an “up-stander,” and discourage others from engaging in such behavior. Refer to the Long SOM Office for Inclusion and Diversity’s Upstander Action Guide.

3. Multiple Languages. On April 1, Harvard Medical School created COVID-19 Health Literacy Project, a series of COVID-19 infographic fact sheets translated into 35 different languages to help all patients know when, and how, to seek care.

4. Disrupting Anti-Asian Rhetoric. Do not use terms such as “Chinese Virus” or other terms which cast either intentional or unintentional projections of hatred toward Asian communities, and do not allow the use of these terms by others. Refer to the virus as either “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” in both oral and written communications. Asian Chamber of Texas (ACT) and other Asian American community organizations are encouraging individuals to participate in the #WashTheHate campaign.

5. Persons with Disabilities.  Green Mountain Self-Advocates, a Vermont self-advocacy organization run by people with developmental disabilities launched a booklet about COVID-19 created by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities. [En Español]

6. Hearing Impaired Persons and Communication. When communicating with individuals with hearing and/or visual impairments, Dr. Christopher J. Moreland, an internist at UT Health San Antonio and Long School of Medicine’s Diversity Advisory Council Member in collaboration with the National Association for the Deaf and others created two on-line resources, one for health professionals, and one for patients:

7. Use Values as a Bridge, Not a Bypass. Opening conversations with values like opportunity helps to emphasize society’s role in affording a fair chance to everyone. But starting conversations here does not mean avoiding discussions of race, gender, or any other human difference. We suggest bridging from shared values to the roles of equity and inclusion in fulfilling those values for all.

8.  Virtual Coffee Breaks. Build community through virtual coffee/tea hours with colleagues, suite-mates, students and faculty.

9.  Be Inclusive. Remember that everyone has different circumstances. Continue to treat everyone with respect, both in their presence and in their absence. Do not resort or revert to unkind discussions about people, individuals or groups who may not be in your immediate social circle.

10. Self-Care. Remember to practice self-care! Feelings and thoughts people may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation vary from person to person. Refer to SAMHSA’s Tips for Social Distancing and Isolation – which suggests ways to care for behavioral health during these experiences and provides resources for more help.

American Sign Language

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