Change Is Possible… Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Are Possible
Veronica Gillispie-Bell

Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell is the mother to Gregory, a 4th grader, and wife to Troy Bell. She is a Board Certified OBGYN and practices at Ochsner Health. Among her many roles, she has focused on improving health equity not only at Ochsner but for birthing persons across the state of Louisiana, and nationally. She has a Certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and serves on both the Health Disparities Task Force and the Steering Committee for the Ochsner/Xavier Center of Health Equity and Research.

 

The first days of school…

Growing up in Mississippi, when going back to school, I always noticed change. Each year brought about a new teacher, a new grade and new goals. The beginning of school also brought the change of seasons from summer to fall. Beautiful foliage of oranges, yellows and reds lined the streets as the leaves were changing. All of the changes made me feel hope and possibility for the academic year ahead.  

Now, as an adult, hardly ever do I think about change in a positive way. As adults, when we are asked to change, feelings of uncertainty, fear and discomfort are what surface. Change for adults means moving from the familiar to something unfamiliar. While the emotions associated with change may not be positive, I also understand that change is inevitable. In my professional role, I lead quality improvement changes in obstetric units throughout the state of Louisiana. In Louisiana, we have some of the worst maternal outcomes in the U.S., and the disparities in outcomes is unacceptable. I understand change is needed to go from what was to what needs to be

This is how I view the work we do through JEDI. We have to move to uncomfortable spaces to think differently. At St. George’s, we have spent the last couple of years moving to that uncomfortable space to ensure we have a community that fosters JEDI values. We have had conversations about diversity and inclusivity followed by actions that ensure our policies and practices are done through a lens of equity. Our metamorphosis is not complete, but we are on a path to improvement. 

At St. George’s, we believe our students, our faculty and staff, our trustees and our families thrive in an environment where the dignity and worth of every human being are lifted, where all feel a sense of belonging and where the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are prioritized. To get there, we understand we must work together to identify and remove barriers that prevent access, opportunity and advancement for all people. We strive to create belonging for everyone in the St. George’s community. We cannot exercise our core values (perseverance, integrity, respect and compassion) without also making St. George’s a place where everyone feels them. 

Change requires us to get uncomfortable. It calls us to hold up a mirror to truly see ourselves while also looking to the future to see where we want to be. In that discomfort lies the power and all of the possibility that each of our students hold as they start a new academic year. Change is uncomfortable, change is inevitable, change is possible.

 

 

  • Board of Trustees
  • JEDI
  • Parent Voice