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A simple case for #Diversity: Patients

I saw a patient once on rounds
Her eyes beautiful and bright
A turquoise hijab framed her face
And twinkled in the light

“Hello, I’m Dr. Manning.”
She offered me a smile
I could tell that she was tired;
The wait had been a while
“Please call me Amira,”
She sat up tall and said.
Then turned her face to look at me
As I approached the bed.

I listened to her story
And then did an exam
She asked me a few questions
And then we set a plan
Before I left I saw her tray,
The food had been untouched.
(Unless you count a piece of fruit)
But otherwise not much.

“Amira, you’ve not eaten.
Is everything okay?”
Her mouth opened but then she paused
Deciding what to say
“It’s fine,” she said and gave a shrug.
We both looked at her plate
Which had a piece of pork loin
some veggies and some cake

“This isn’t food you eat?” I asked.
Her head shake told me no.
“This always happens when I’m here.
My family’s coming though.”
I thought back to a team I’d had
Some years ago one fall
My Muslim intern taught me
What it meant to eat halal.

To some this may seem silly
For a grown up not to know
But thankfully that resident
Was cool and helped me grow
Our time that month proved helpful
And allowed for me to see
The power that can come
From cultural humility

I’d soon learn that Amira
Stuck to a halal diet
But on every admission
Had always remained quiet
We called up food services
and said we wished to know
How to respect our patient
And not force her NPO

And quickly they were helpful
then took the time to listen
To what we soon identified
An option in our system
And honestly, the point of this
Ignites a simple truth
That diverse teams improve and
Make us patient-centered, too.

It broadens our life lenses
And opens up the way
We honor one another
In what we do or say
This Black woman from Inglewood
(that’s me) still doesn’t know
So many things about the worlds
In which I did not grow

But when I sit beside you
Or stand with you on rounds
You plant a seed that grows in me
And helps me leaps and bounds
We fixed Amira’s diet
But still she skipped the food
She laughed and said,
“I think I’ll pass. Not trying to be rude.”

But this time it was different
Her faced filled with elation
To no longer be subjected
To microinvalidation
Diversity--is it worth it?
Worth all that we go through?
Does it make anything better?
Is all the hoopla true?

The literature does tell us yes
But let me speak for me
The biggest impact that it has
may take some time to see.

Why diversity?
Because patients.

#iseeyou 👊🏾
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