by Jolene Jacobs

Human Resources Director
Sparrow Clinton Hospital

Following Sparrow’s Lead, Sparrow Clinton Hospital (SCH) embarked on its own diversity journey in May 2008, led by SCH Human Resources Director Jolene Jacobs. From the beginning, Jacobs understood that the first step to performance improvement efforts was to have a strong commitment to Associate education designed to increase awareness and sensitivity.

As chairperson of the Clinton Memorial Hospital Diversity Events Committee, Jacobs has assisted with the implementation of more than 20 diversity-related programs and celebratory events. Thanks to her dedication, 300 SCH Associates have gained important skills that will help them provide exceptional care for a diverse patient population. In addition, diversity education has encouraged them to develop better Associate relationships through learning to appreciate and embrace individual differences.

The Diversity Events Committee “broke the ice” with a popular program that taught Associates how to track their family tree. Jacobs arranged for a genealogy coordinator from the Library of Michigan to provide an on-site workshop. Committee members set up a map in the hospital cafeteria so Associates could plant a pin to mark their ancestral homelands. Pins popped up on every continent of the world by the end of the event, generating further discussion by Associates about family traditions and cultural observances.

“SCH Associates look forward to Diversity events at the hospital, knowing they will be enlightened.”

The Diversity Events Committee combined education with action when Jacobs brought in a speaker from Goodwill Industries. A clothing drive was held to benefit the local Goodwill store. This presentation centered on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Program participants were made aware of how the law provides reasonable accommodation in work situations and sets standards for physical access to buildings and public transportation. Associates spent time considering the possible impediments that patients with disabilities might face when accessing SCH facilities. At the end of the sessions, ideas for improvement were forwarded to the SCH Environment of Care Committee for review.

The best attended and most popular event sponsored by the Diversity Events Committee to date was a workshop called Generational Differences. Designed by Jacobs and committee members, this interactive program spurred Associates to understand the impact their generation had on their social views, ethics, personal dress code, work habits and methods of communication. Participating Associates discussed how to best use this information to enhance their understanding of how to communicate better with patients and Associates.

Jacobs and SCH Diversity Events Committee members constantly explore new opportunities for interactive, hands-on diversity education and awareness programs. Through special luncheons, contests, and games—even dancing to Polka bands—Associates gain valuable skills in a creative learning environment. SCH Associates look forward to Diversity events at the hospital, knowing they will be enlightened.