Hackensack Meridian Health Recognized On 2021 Diversityinc Top Hospitals & Health Systems List

May 7, 2021

Debut appearance on distinguished list recognizes health network’s extensive initiatives to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture

Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, was recognized for the first time ever on DiversityInc’s 2021 Top Hospitals & Health Systems list. This award is the result of a highly competitive survey conducted by DiversityInc.

Hackensack Meridian Health placed 11th overall in this year’s ranking, joining the following national hospitals and health systems:

  • Northwell Health
  • Ohio Health
  • Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Cardinal Health
  • Henry Ford Health System
  • City of Hope
  • Jefferson Health
  • Yale New Haven Health System
  • NYU Langone Health

“We are honored to be named to DiversityInc’s list of top hospitals and health systems, which recognizes our longstanding history of ensuring equality and opportunity for all in our hospitals and care locations,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This is only the beginning as we deepen our commitment to champion equality for all team members, and advance our comprehensive strategy to eliminate disparities to ensure health equity and quality outcomes for all people.”

“Hackensack Meridian Health is proud to be on DiversityInc’s list and join hospitals and health systems that are leading the way to build an inclusive culture, and move the needle toward a more just and equitable future,” said Avonia Richardson-Miller, EdD, MA, vice president, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Hackensack Meridian Health’s DiversityInc ranking follows major initiatives in 2020 and 2021 that are part of the network’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy:

  • Eighteen students from the inaugural class of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine are poised to graduate on June 3. All were trained, in part, in underserved communities through the innovative Human Dimension program, a hallmark of the School in which students are immersed into the community by linking pairs of students to families in the community. Additionally, the student body is diverse: Nearly half of the class admitted in 2020 is female, and students speak 33 different languages. Half of the class identifies as persons of color (other than white), and a quarter are from groups categorized as under-represented in medicine (URIM).
  • In March 2021, CEO Robert C. Garrett signed the CEO Action Pledge in support of advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reducing health care disparities in the communities the 17-hospital network serves. The network was also proud to participate in CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion’s “Day of Understanding,” one of the largest initiatives to host candid conversations and help advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • In response to the racial and social unrest after the George Floyd tragedy in 2020, HMH piloted its Listening To Understand (LTU) Campaign, facilitating difficult conversations among team members and leadership.
  • Establishing a network-wide goal for 2021 tying executive compensation to measurable metrics focused on increasing the representation of underrepresented team members in leadership positions at HMH targeting Black, Latinx and Asians.
  • Appointing the first African-American male to HMH’s Board of Trustees. John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, who is a board member and former chairman of the board for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, with 150 affiliate chapters and more than 15 international affiliates, joined HMH’s Board in January 2021.
  • Appointing the first African-American female to lead HMH’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department. Avonia Richardson-Miller, EdD, MA, BS, was promoted to Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in January 2021, replacing Wayne Boatwright, who served for 15 years as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the network.
  • Appointing HMH’s first African-American female Vice President of Social Determinants of Health. Nicole Harris-Hollingsworth, EdD, MCHES, joined HMH in August 2020, and leads the development and implementation of network wide social determinant of health strategies across the HMH network.
  • Nine of our hospitals have earned the Healthcare Equality Index Certification. This designation signals to LGBTQ patients and allies that the healthcare facility has met the foundational elements of LGBTQ patient-centered care.
  • Launched Maternal Health Blue Ribbon Task Force to address unacceptable disparities in maternal outcomes in New Jersey. The Maternal Health Awareness symposium in January included participation by NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy.
  • Partnering with a major insurer to provide more preventive and coordinated care in communities where gaps in outcomes are especially pronounced.
  • Recruiting minority volunteers for COVID vaccine trials because it is so important that research prevail for all communities. Expert physicians met with clergy and other leaders in the Black community to encourage participation. More than half the volunteers in the Moderna trial are people of color, well beyond the national average.
  • The network is utilizing those same outreach efforts to encourage the communities to receive the vaccine as well. Hackensack Meridian Health conducts individual COVID19 community webinars targeted to Black, Latinx, Asian and other People of Color, focusing on addressing the unique concerns of those communities. Additionally, we launched public service campaigns featuring icons in sports and entertainment urging all communities to get vaccinated.
  • Through the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the network is working to make sure New Jersey’s physicians reflect the communities they serve. Only 5% of physicians are African-American in the U.S., even though African-Americans make up 13% of the population. In the latest class, nearly 25% are black or Hispanic. A diverse physician workforce will get us closer to improving health outcomes for all communities.