Diversity and Inclusion

diversity-report-coupleDiversity and Inclusion at Lakeland Health

Diversity and inclusion are implicitly implied in Lakeland Health’s mission and vision statements, as well as in the TRAITS that define the organization’s culture. However, statements must be followed up with concrete action in order to effect the desired change of being both more diverse and inclusive.

The following is a list of programs, initiatives, and activities that represent the work that is going on at Lakeland Health in this regard:


  • Developing Cultural Fluency Class
    This highly interactive nine-week class is designed to heighten participant awareness of the concepts of “diversity” and “difference”, while recognizing that everyone in the group brings different levels of awareness based on their personal attitudes and experiences.
  • Understanding and Managing Generational Differences Class
    This class is designed to help participants understand and manage the reality that there are four generations in the workplace, each with its own cultural values.
  • Unconscious Bias Class
    This class is designed to introduce and explore the concept of unconscious/implicit bias, with focus on direct relationship to health equality.
  • Mandatory Diversity eLearning
    All associates must complete a required yearly eLearning course on diversity.
  • Listening with Heart Diversity module
    In 2016, all associates were strongly encourage to participate in a ten-module session on listening. One of the modules was specifically dedicated to listening and diversity.
  • The Diversity Toolkit
    This toolkit of diversity training activities is available to managers and directors to be used with their staff. Managers/directors can facilitate the activities, or request a member of the Diversity Advisory Council to facilitate.

    To access the toolkit: Go to myLakeland > Innovations > Management > Diversity Dialogue Toolkits

The Diversity Advisory Council is pleased to offer this important tool and encourages you all to take a look at it. If you have any questions, contact Danny Sledge, M.A. at (269) 985-4546, dsledge@lakelandhealth.org

  • Transgender Presentation
    A presentation was made to the Joint Leadership Council (JLC) education and information relative to transgender issues. This presentation was made by a transgender individual in the community.
  • LGBT Presentation
    In addition to specific session on LGBT issues in the Developing Cultural Fluency class, a presentation has also made to the associates as part of the Clinical Medical Education (CME) program.
  • Resource Assistance
    The Program Manager for Diversity and Inclusion provides assistance in discussing potential problematic diversity-related issues and designs and provides customized trainings and presentations to any department or group at Lakeland upon request.
  • Online and Class Trainings to Medical Students
    1. Yearly e-course: Thinkculturalhealth.com; 9 hours
    2. Monthly diversity and health equity lectures (every other month to all residents and
    medical students) monthly to the Family Medicine residents

Community Relationships and Collaborations

  • Lakeland has relationships with many community organizations, and has also collaborated on several diversity-related activities and initiatives.
    • Partnership with Elite Barbershop: Lakeland does periodic health screening on site at the Elite Barbershop in Benton Harbor, MI. This is an outreach to impact the health of African American men in the community.
    • Established an informal focus group with community businessmen, current and former elected officials and clergy to discuss and develop ideas regarding improving healthcare in Benton Harbor, especially as it impacts young men.
    • Harbor Towers: Lakeland opened an in-house office space providing an avenue for health care initiatives that benefit the residents with meeting their health care needs.
    • Sorter School Project: The project, that involved a collaboration of more than 25 team members with a wide range of insights, skills, knowledge and other resources, was designed to address the concerns of underrepresented populations living in food deserts and the provision of healthy, nutritious food. The team designed menus and recipes that were high in Omega-3 fatty acids and low in sugar, sodium, colorings, preservatives, and other additives; they procured equipment and food; and they organized food storage, meal preparation and the transport of breakfast and lunches for 20 children five days a week for an eight-week period.
    • Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan: The Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan is a diverse group of volunteers from Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and surrounding communities. The Council is dedicated to fostering interracial understanding, mutual respect, and cooperative action toward the elimination of barriers to racial equality. The Council maintains that improving race relations is a responsibility we all share because it is the right and moral thing to do. In addition, the Council strongly believes that a community that involves all segments of its population in open and unbiased opportunity will strengthen its workforce, stimulate business development, and enhance overall quality of life. An associate at Lakeland serves as a member on the council, and assists with facilitating a community program on “Confronting Racial Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination”.
    • Project SEARCH: Lakeland has entered into a collaboration with the Berrien I.S.D. and Michigan Rehabilitation services to institute Project SEARCH at Lakeland, St. Joseph. This unique program provides real-life work experience to help youth with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to adult life.
    • Local school districts support: The Program Manager for Diversity and Inclusion has made himself available, upon request, to assist with diversity/inclusion issues that may arise in the school districts in the hospital service area.
    • Benton Harbor Promise: The Benton Harbor Promise is a program to help all students in the greater Benton Harbor area achieve a post-secondary education. The Promise realizes that every student regardless of financial means should have the opportunity to earn post-secondary credentials. The program provides full tuition and mandatory fees at any accredited community college or Career Technical school in Michigan where the student is accepted.
      1. Board membership
      2. Assists with Strategic Planning
      3. Fundraising, which includes sponsorships.
    • PACE: PACE of Southwest Michigan is a unique program of coordinated care that offers elderly adults and their caregivers an alternative to nursing home placement. The team of geriatric experts works with the elderly to promote independence by focusing on healthcare and prevention.
      1. Board membership
      2. Assists with Strategic Planning
      3. Fundraising, which includes sponsorships.
    • OutCenter of Southwestern Michigan: Lakeland has a well-developed relationship with the OutCenter of Southwest Michigan. Examples of collaboration include:
      1. OutCenter Board membership
      2. Holiday Pride sponsor
      3. (In progress) Exploring how Lakeland can help OutCenter in the identification of LGBT-friendly healthcare providers.


  • Diversity Art Display
    At least quarterly, an art display highlighting some cultural group is displayed at the St. Joseph location.
  • Themed Meals
    Periodically, the Chef and cafeteria staff present themed meals in the cafeteria. Often these meals are accompanied with some form of performance art (i.e., singing, dancing, etc.). Cultural informational material is also provided to further expose and educate attendees to the culture(s) highlighted.
  • Holiday Observations
    Cultural holidays (Black History Month, Native American History Month, Women’s History Month, MLK Day, etc.) are acknowledged and celebration by planned events. The Office of Minority Health website is used as a resource to provide lists a broad cross-section of cultural holidays/events and suggestions of celebrations.
  • Articles on Pulse NewsLink
    Routinely, articles related to diversity, healthcare and the community are submitted to the hospital
    newsletter for organization-wide distribution.
  • Learning Week
    Information regarding diversity at Lakeland is shared through participation and presence at this
    institution-wide initiative.



  • Diversity Advisory Council (DAC)
    The DAC is an organized, representative group of associates who have expressed interest and made a commitment to advancing the diversity/inclusion efforts of the organization. The Council is supported by two members at the Senior Leadership level.
  • Diversity Action Plan
    The DAC has developed an action plan that is reviewed yearly and adjusted accordingly.
  • Program Manager, Diversity and Inclusion
    This position supports, develops and coordinates programs and classes that advance the diversity/inclusion agenda, as well as influence policies and procedures that structurally impact diversity efforts. This position works closely with the Medical Director for Diversity.
  • Medical Director for Diversity
    Functions to this position include:
    1. Serving as an advisor to the senior leadership in developing health equity programs for all the
    populations Lakeland serves, including the associates
    2. Assisting in facilitating programs that have a positive impact on the staff, with specific focus on
    the medical staff, regarding Cultural Competency education and improving staff interactions with
    the diverse populations served at Lakeland
    3. Identifying situations where Diversity is an issue in the quality of healthcare delivered
    4. Serving as a liaison between Lakeland and the diverse population of Benton Harbor
    5. Assisting in any Diversity program at Lakeland where a medical practitioner’s expertise is required
  • Language and Deaf Interpreter Services
    Lakeland provides translation services and equipment necessary to meet the communication needs of the limited-English speaking, non-English speaking or hearing impaired patient or healthcare advocate.
  • Same Gender Partner Benefits
    In an effort to recognize the diversity of our workforce, Lakeland continues to cover married same sex couples under the benefit plan.
  • Adoption Program
    Adoption Assistance is available to full and regular part-time associates who have been employed at least one year. Lakeland provides financial assistance of up to $3,000 for expenses incurred while adopting a child. Lifetime maximum of two adoptions ($6,000) permitted. Two weeks of PTO is also available upon placement of the child.
  • Gender Identity in EPIC (in progress)
    Exploring the possibility and procedure for including gender identity, as well as biological identity in patient information system.
  • Financial Support
    The organization provides financial support to attend conferences, workshops, and symposia that have a diversity focus. Additional funds may be made available to invite speakers and presenters to Lakeland.

Continue Watching

Community Food Network: A Leg Up on Life

After assistance from a Lakeland nurse, Nancey received intervention for a life-threatening condition in the nick of time.

Weathering and Health Inequity: Letting the Epigenome Out of the Bottle Without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health

Dr. Geronimus discussed weathering and the ways that structurally rooted biological and psychosocial processes shape health inequities in our society.

Interview with Bechara Choucair, MD: Advancing Health? It's About the Mind, Body, and Community

Dr. Choucair shares how his organization is working to improve conditions for health and equity

Interview with David Williams, MPH, PhD: Structural Competency and Institutional Discrimination

Dr. David Williams discusses institutional discrimination, individual discrimination, and structural competency.

Interview with David Williams, MPH, PhD: Recognizing and Preventing Implicit Bias

Dr. David Williams discusses his research on ways to recognize and prevent implicit bias.

Interview with David Williams, MPH, PhD: Discrimination and Health Disparities

Dr. David Williams discusses his research on health inequities caused by racial discrimination.

Interview with David Williams, MPH, PhD: Social Influences on Health

Dr. David Williams discusses his research on the distinctive social exposures linked to racial status.

Interview with Patricia Rush, MD, MBA

Dr. Patricia Rush discusses the impact of psychological trauma on the brain and on chronic disease and health inequities.

We're Ready for You at Spectrum Health Lakeland

While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in new ways, we want you to know we are here for you.

Lakeland Sets Aside $50 Million to Address Racial Equity and Health Inequities

The Board of Directors of Spectrum Health Lakeland approved an expanded strategy to address racial and ethnic health equity in Southwest Michigan.

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2020