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CHA Diversity Council

At CHA, diversity is the building block of how we design programs and services. Our commitment to Inclusion, Equity and Excellence guides how we address the needs of our patients and employees. Diversity Council members represent 15+ departments across CHA.

As a leader in Diversity among health care providers, we provide a welcoming environment and culturally competent patient care while being a model employer for diversity in the workplace. CHA’s focus on community-based, patient-centered care sets us apart and challenges us to focus on the needs of individuals with a deep understanding of their culture, language and preferences.

The council is co-chaired by Avlot Quessa, Senior Director, Multicultural Affairs & Patient Services and Mary Cassesso, President, CHA Foundation & Chief Community Officer.

We welcome those who share this vision to join our patient services team and our multicultural teams who set the bar at CHA. If you would like to learn more about Diversity at CHA or get involved in programs, please contact Avlot at AQuessa@challiance.org.

What We Do:

  • Each February, in honor of Black History Month, we host a number of events and activities to celebrate African-American heritage and contributions of African Americans to the CHA community, including staff education, trivia contests, a lecture series and performances by local artists. Watch a dance performance from 2019.
  • Portuguese Speakers Month Celebrations [April]. April is national Celebrate Diversity Month, and CHA is proud to celebrate the diversity within our Portuguese-speaking communities. Portuguese is the second most spoken language at CHA. More than 20,000 individual patients – 16% of our primary care population – receive their care in Portuguese. While Portuguese is the official language of eight independent countries, most of our Portuguese-speaking patients and staff are natives of Brazil, Portugal or Cabo Verde. The CHA Diversity Council organizes a number of engaging activities throughout the month.
  • Estelle Paris Advanced Nursing Practice Scholarship [April - May]. In partnership with the Human Resources and Nursing Education departments, we facilitate a scholarship for CHA nurses. Scholarships are given in honor of Estelle Paris, RN-C, ANP, a former member of the CHA Board and a nurse practitioner who retired after more than twenty years of service in neighborhood health centers in Cambridge. Winners are selected on the basis of a strong academic record, financial need, community involvement, and a demonstrated commitment to diversity and the elimination of disparities in healthcare. The deadline is May 1.
  • Celebrating LGBTQ+ PRIDE Month [June], Over 40 CHA staff, family and friends, including members of the LGBTQ+ employee affinity group, march to proudly supporting the Boston PRIDE parade and those identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer. We also raise the Rainbow Flag at our hospitals to kick off the month and present panel discussions, and sponsor workforce education programs on LGBTQ health and patient rights.
  • Focus on Arab-American Health Care. CHA sponsors an annual event on health care for Arab American patients, with special presentations on the unique cultural characteristics and care preferences of this patient population group.
  • International Deaf Awareness Week [September]. We sponsor International Deaf Awareness Week each September with a series of events and activities to raise awareness about the special needs of our deaf patients, including Educational Kiosks, meet and greet with American Sign Language interpreters and a presentation on communication styles and the resources needed to provide fully accessible care.
  • Hispanic Heritage Month [September - October]. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we host a series of events and activities to celebrate Hispanic heritage and the contributions of Latinos to the CHA community, including staff education, trivia contests, and a presentation on collaborative community building.
  • Employment Now Initiative. CHA helps disabled members of our community get hired. This includes partnering with Project SEARCH, a business-led internship program for individuals with disabilities designed to provide transferable job skills necessary to gain competitive employment in the community. Over the course of 10 months, interns rotate through three 10-week long internships within CHA, while participating in one hour of instruction on employ-ability skills led by The Carroll Center for the Blind. Job coaches are on site to provide support and guidance as the intern embarks on the new rotations. The sole definition of a successful outcome at the conclusion of the program is competitive employment in an integrated setting for each Project SEARCH inter including year-round work at least 20 hours per week at minimum wage or higher.
  • Linguistic and Cultural Education. In collaboration with Multicultural Affairs and Patient Services, we provide linguistic and cultural education for clinical and non-clinical staff upon request. In addition, we provide consultation to customer departments on a wide range of topics such as meaningful access to care, inclusion, equity, and racial relations.

We are Committed to:

  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate care
  • Eliminating disparities in access, care, outcomes and satisfaction for patients
  • Creating welcoming environments for all patients/employees
  • Celebrating the diversity of our workforce and recruiting a workforce reflecting the communities we serve
  • Integrating diversity goals into our metrics
  • Develop diverse members on our boards – both Advisory and Trustees LGBTQ

We Support:

  • LGBTQ inclusion and equity
  • Identifying and addressing health disparities
  • Workforce Diversity
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