UMass Memorial Health Care on Wednesday announced that it has hired Dr. Brian Gibbs to lead the health care system’s transformation efforts in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Gibbs, who has ties to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a community-based coalition in Boston, will bring “significant experience” to Worcester-based UMass Memorial from guiding similar initiatives at Oregon Health & Science University, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health and Florida A & M University, according to a statement from UMass Memorial Health Care.
The hire of Gibbs as the vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer comes as hospitals across the nation grapple with growing cases of coronavirus, a disease that has disproportionately affected Black and brown Americans. Worcester’s Latinx residents have comprised 38% of positive COVID-19 cases despite being 21% of the city’s population. And Worcester’s Black community has represented 22% of coronavirus cases but is only 13% of its residency, officials have said.
“UMass Memorial is committed to transforming equity in patient care for our communities and improving inclusion for our caregivers,” said Dr. Eric Dickson, the president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. “We believe Brian is the right leader to spearhead this transformation and position our organization to be the best place to give care for all caregivers and the best place to get care for every patient.”
Last month, Dickson and other Worcester leaders gathered for an equity forum in which the discussion centered heavily on the need to be anti-racist. Dickson said one of UMass Memorial’s large targets for the upcoming year is to close that gap in visits to a pediatrician for Latinx and Black children.
Most recently, Gibbs led equity and inclusion efforts at Oregon Health & Science University, where he was responsible for diversity initiatives within the university’s clinical, educational and research missions. He was also an associate professor in the graduate-level community health program at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.
Before his time at Oregon Health & Science University, Gibbs was the associate vice chancellor for diversity at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center. And before that role, Gibbs associate dean for diversity and cultural competence at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Prior to his time in Baltimore, Gibbs lived in Massachusetts and was the founder and director of the Program to Eliminate Health Disparities at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, serving as a senior research scientist in the department of health policy and management. He also co-founded Cherishing Our Hearts and Souls, a community-based coalition representing more than 200 organizations in Roxbury, UMass Memorial said.
“Along with a wealth of experience and insights Brian also possesses the emotional intelligence to truly listen to and understand the needs of our caregivers and patients,” said Douglas Brown, the chief administrative officer for UMass Memorial Health Care. “We are thrilled to have him in this role and in our organization, and we know he will make a profound impact on our caregivers, patients and communities.”
Gibbs has a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy from Eastern Michigan University, a master’s in public administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, where he was a Pew Health Policy Fellow. He also completed post-doctoral training at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Meanwhile, with coronavirus rates rising across the state, UMass Memorial is working to open a field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester with 240 beds to help treat patients during the second surge of cases.
UMass Memorial is the third-largest health care system in Massachusetts and is the largest employer in the Central Massachusetts region.
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