St. Dominic Hospital celebrates integration of antiracism work into DEI Council

About the photo: Some members of St. DART at the celebratory event in Jackson, Miss., on April 27, 2023.

Events at St. Dominic Hospital, Jackson, Miss., on Thursday, April 27, drew welcome attention to the commitment of members of the St. Dominic’s Antiracism Team (St. DART) and ritualized the integration of their work into the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DEI) at the hospital.

During the celebration Springfield Dominican Sister Karina Dickey, St. Dominic’s vice-president for mission integration, illuminated the significance of integrating systemic antiracism work into the hospital’s DEI council. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains but a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” she read from the Gospel of John.

“Members of St. Dominic’s Antiracism team are scattering the grain,” she said. “We’re sowing it into a field prepared by the ministry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitments,” Sister Karina said. “After three years of walking side by side, we’re ready for this transition.”

St. DART was established at St. Dominic in 2012, when it was sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. For nearly eight years the group educated St. Dominic employees about the effects of systemic racism, set up a plan for measuring its impact on clinical outcomes, patient experience, and team member engagement, and worked with hospital administration to implement policies to dismantle racism at the hospital.

After the 2019 transfer of sponsorship of St. Dominic’s from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS), St. DART operated collaboratively with the DEI Council.

“Members of St. Dominic’s Antiracism team are scattering the grain,” she said. “We’re sowing it into a field prepared by the ministry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitments,” Sister Karina said. “After three years of walking side by side, we’re ready for this transition.”

Former St. DART co-chairs, Ryan McBride and John Watson, recalled St. DART’s accomplishments and looked to the future of systemic antiracism work at St. Dominic.

“We studied health status in Mississippi, patient experience, internal promotion practices, and other topics to which we applied principles of power analysis to better understand and to develop strategies to address inequities,” Ryan said. “St. DART’s greatest accomplishment is probably the personal transformation of our members” he said, because team members are carrying what they learned and experienced wherever they go.

A mission being fulfilled

John spoke about the challenges and changes that led to the integration of the racial equity work into the DEI council. “With the introduction of the DEI Council, we

Former St. DART co-chair Ryan McBride.

faced something of an identity crisis. About half of the St. DART members joined the local DEI Council yet we were concerned about losing the systemic analysis framework that came with antiracism,” he said. “Three years in, we are satisfied that methodical analysis is part of our DEI approach to community health and team member engagement. St. DART’s aspirations are being fulfilled through the council.”

Charlie and Kattie Minor joined SDART in 2002 and St. Dart in 2012. During the hand-off ceremony in Jackson Charlie shared a poem about an old man who builds a bridge over water and is then questioned about why he would do such a thing since he is old and unlikely to need the bridge again in his old age. “Just like in the poem, there are young people coming after me who are likely to need the bridge.” Charlie said. “That’s who I’m building the bridge if antiracism for. We might not see the results but there are other people coming behinds us who will benefit from our work.”

Sister Karina later presented an St. DART handbook and sheaf of wheat to Heather Miles, chair of St. Dominic’s DEI Council saying “We present you with a copy of the St. DART handbook. It contains our history and aspirations. Hand on its precepts and hopes to our DEI Council. And let this bundle of wheat be a reminder of the seeds planted by St. Dominic’s Antiracism team. With God’s help, may they multiply a hundred-fold.”

Several leaders of the team who are also members of the SDART—the Springfield Dominican Antiracism Team—received the St. Martin De Porres Award for extraordinary commitment to dismantling racism and promoting racial justice. Howard Derrick and Charlie and Kattie Minor were honored with the award named after the 16th century Dominican from Peru who is the patron of the state of Mississippi, public heath, public education, and race relations.

Scott Kashman, St. Dominic president; Heather Miles, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the hospital; and Asha Johnson, director of DEI for FMOLHS, were present to learn about the impact of St. DART on the lives of the team members and hear stories about the work of this remarkable team of pioneers in dismantling racism at St. Dominic.

Energy and joy

In the evening, the energy and joy of a reunion of St. DART members gave further testimony to the importance of St. DART’s impact at St. Dominic’s and beyond. Founding team member Claire Henson spoke about the personal transformation she experienced as a white woman learning how racial constructs embedded in U.S. culture made the lives of people of color so much more difficult than her own. She was especially challenged, as a healthcare worker, she said, to discover the disparity in health outcomes for persons of color.

St. Dominic's president Scott Kashman speaks as Sister Karina Dickey, OP, looks on.

During a meeting of SDART after the celebration in Jackson, Howard called the event “A monumental meeting that will be forever remembered at St. Dominic’s” because of the opportunity it afforded to pass along the impact and the energy of antiracism work that began with the Springfield Dominican Sisters and with St. DART.

Sister Rose Miriam Schulte spoke to say she was pleased to see “the transformation the Dominican Sisters have committed ourselves to has happened and is happening” at St. Dominic’s. “The important thing was that there were people there to listen,” she recalled. “Asha Johnson was very impressed. Scott was so touched that he said he really didn’t want to leave the evening reunion.”

Daphne Skretvedt, who was instrumental in shaping the work of SDART, participated virtually in the event in Jackson, and said she was proud of her fellow SDART members Kattie and Charlie and Howard and Sister Karina. “I felt proud of the progress that I saw because I remember when some of us on the team went to Jackson to present our work there was a very tentative listening to what we had to say. It was not an easy meeting. When I saw on Thursday, the progress that was made, the dignity, respect, the love between all participants, I realized this work is only beginning, and it is going to continue.”


Thoughts from
Howard Derrick

"The celebration in Jackson was truly a testimony to all the hard work members of SDART have done throughout the past 20+ years. We have proven Crossroads [Antiracism and Training] wrong. They said we would probably never in our generation live to see the results of our good work. God has revealed that when we put him first we can do all things. The small baby steps we are making are significant. We want save the world, but first we make an impact in the community. Within SDART we have developed relationships reflective of our desire to live a Christian life. The love, care, and concern we show one another on the team flood throughout the community, pass beyond any boundaries, and spread throughout the world."

Mr. Howard Derrick is a member of SDART, a former member of St.DART, and a member of the St. Dominic DEI Council. He retired from St. Dominic's after35 years as a respiratory therapist there.


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