MICHIGAN CITY — Understanding that support of a diverse population is at the core of its mission, Franciscan Health Michigan City is committing to a multi-faceted plan to promote equity and parity in health care, according to its president and CEO.

“As one of the largest employers in the region, Franciscan Health has long recognized its responsibility to strengthening the communities it serves, leading the effort to care for the poor and most vulnerable,” Dean Mazzoni said.

And, “As a Catholic health care organization, Franciscan Health has a social responsibility to promote the principles of parity and equity.”

He said the Franciscan Mission, “continuing Christ’s ministry in our Franciscan tradition,” includes the values of fidelity to mission, respect for life, compassionate concern, joyful service and Christian stewardship.

“This new effort reflects those values, which carry over to the vibrant, richly diverse Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan communities that we serve,” Mazzoni said.

“We are committed to developing a culture of love, compassion, respect and safety through an awareness of and attention to the diversity of the people with whom we interact.

“This culture will be reflected in our organization’s attitudes, structure, policies and services.”

Internally, the effort will mean implementing new education and training, including compassion classes on diversity and sensitivity, he said.

“This effort is just the beginning of an ongoing internal dialogue on relevant social topics and socioeconomic factors in health and access to care. Additionally, staff hiring, development and promotion will reflect a commitment to these values,” Mazzoni said.

Externally, the leadership team will be focused on community involvement, he said.

A new position to be developed, Community Health Outreach Coordinator, will focus on health disparities.

Franciscan Health also looks forward to partnering with the Michigan City Area Schools in the following areas:

Providing free thermometers to students enrolled in the free and subsidized lunches.

Developing a health careers training program.

Providing 500 backpacks at the Black Expo Back to School Rally.

Elsewhere in the community, Franciscan leaders will be encouraged to become more active with local non-profit organizations, Mazzoni said.

Also, efforts to promote access to nutritious foods will continue, through the partnership with Purdue Extension and other organizations, which have been instrumental in establishing the Walker Park Community Garden in Michigan City.

“We know that this effort to promote equity and parity in health care will be a long-term commitment, but we believe that making it a priority will make a tremendous difference in not only the health, but the overall quality of life here,” Mazzoni said.

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