Black History Month 2021: healthcare workers honor the past, ignite change for the future

Female doctor wearing scrub cap and glasses

At HCA Healthcare, we believe excellence in healthcare starts with a foundation of inclusion, compassion and respect for our patients and each other. Each year, we honor Black History Month throughout February as a time to celebrate the achievements made by Black Americans and for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.

As we close out Black History Month, we are amplifying the stories of our Black colleagues and how they are driving change within our hospital walls and in the communities we serve. Every day, influential Black leaders across HCA Healthcare are leading the charge to promote health and well-being for our patients and communities.

These colleagues are actively working to reduce health disparities amongst communities of color, holding authentic dialogue to bring awareness around racism and mentoring youth in the community to help with future representation in the workplace – among other initiatives.

Read on seven stories of impact.

Dr. Shasta Henderson, orthopedic trauma surgeon at Trident Medical Center

Female doctor wearing scrub cap and glasses. Headshot of Dr. Shasta Henderson.

Dr. Shasta Henderson is an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Trident Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina. As an African American woman representing less than 1% of orthopedic surgeons, she finds it an honor to be one of the few but also feels a sense of responsibility to bridge the gap between the African American and medical communities. In her day-to-day work, Dr. Henderson uses her platform to engage with others by having candid conversations about the pandemic, works to answer questions and address concerns, and celebrates the fact that she was vaccinated for COVID-19.

Dr. Henderson shares that “Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate our successes and work together for a better future.”

Thank you, Dr. Henderson,  all of your contributions to our pursuit of a healthier, more equitable tomorrow.

Cecile Gilbert, senior executive coordinator and contract administrator at Southern Hills Hospital

Woman wearing navy blue polo shirt with HCA Healthcare logo. Headshot of Cecile Gilbert.

Cecile Gilbert, a senior executive coordinator and contract administrator at Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, championed authentic dialogue and ignited change amongst the heightened focus on racial injustice in 2020. She was resolute in finding a way to bring more awareness around racism, healthcare disparities and Black representation in the workplace to ensure all colleagues, patients and visitors felt heard, respected and valued. In collaboration with her human resources team, Cecile coordinated a successful BRAVE Conversation at her facility in which she was candid about her personal experiences.

Cecile has become a sought-after speaker across HCA Healthcare and remains committed to having trust-building, bias-shifting and courageous conversations with others.

Thank you, Cecile, for breaking down barriers and driving meaningful change.

Dr. George Harrison, chief medical officer at Fairview Park Hospital

Male doctor wearing face mask and white lab coat holding a sign that says I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine. Headshot of Dr. George Harrison.

Dr. George Harrison, chief medical officer at Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Georgia, has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of others through patient care and community education. He is on a mission to educate Black communities about the benefits and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This disease will not just disappear — we have to be proactive in making sure we are doing and giving ourselves the ability to fight this virus off,” said Dr. Harrison.

Thank you, Dr. Harrison, for your commitment to sharing facts and dispelling misleading information to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jyric Sims, chief executive officer at Medical City Fort Worth

Man wearing suit and tie. Headshot of Jyric Sims.

Jyric Sims, chief executive officer at HCA Healthcare’s Medical City Fort Worth in Texas, is passionate about contributing to the strength and vibrancy of the community he serves. A first generation high school and college graduate, Jyric credits his parents for teaching him lessons of “authenticity, hard work, discipline, dedication, a sense of belonging, and that to whom much is given, much is expected.”

With a strong sense of duty and in an effort to lead change, Jyric also mentors Black undergraduate and graduate students who aspire to be leaders in healthcare. “I make time to mentor them because it is my rent that I pay while occupying this space right now,” said Jyric. Leading by example is just one of many reasons he was recently named amongst “70 African American leaders in healthcare to know” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Thank you, Jyric, for positively influencing healthcare delivery in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and for advocating for the next generation of African American leaders.

Dr. Monique Butler, chief medical officer at HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Division

Woman wearing suit. Headshot of Dr. Monique Butler.

Dr. Monique Butler, chief medical officer at HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Division, is passionate about bringing conversations around reducing health disparities for people of color to the forefront and frequently provides thought leadership on the issue of cultural competence in healthcare. In a recent HCA Healthcare BRAVE Conversation, “A Closer Look at COVID-19s Impact on Communities of Color,” Dr. Butler shared the importance of intentionally increasing the representation of people of color in physician roles to reflect the communities we serve. She noted it is an integral part of building trust within communities of color and could lead to higher vaccine adoption.

“Having more individuals in roles that look like the communities you are serving speaks volumes at the amount of influence you can have as a primary care physician,” said Dr. Butler. “That type of relationship is something that can’t be learned in schools.”

Thank you, Dr. Butler, for helping lead the charge to promote health and well-being for all our patients.

Kellie Holt, a workforce administration team member at HCA Healthcare

Woman wearing glasses and a green sweater with yellow top. Headshot of Kellie Holt.

Kellie Holt, a workforce administration team member for HCA Healthcare’s Human Resources Operations Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is proud of the history of the 60+ acres of land that have been passed down in their family for 130 years. At a time when owning land equated to power, Kellie’s ancestors reaped a brighter future for generations to come.

“My great-great grandparents, George and Rebecca “Vines” Tarrant, bought land from the family who owned our family as slaves in 1887,” said Kellie, who feels it is important to share the history of their family’s land as an inspiring way to connect future generations to their past.

“Hearing stories about how an oppressed minority grew from their experience and grew something that spreads generations is always amazing,” said Kellie. “Land in itself is great to own, but to have land with such a rich history is even more amazing.”

Thank you, Kellie, for sharing important stories about history for future generations to learn from.

Dr. Regina Bowe, physician at The Frist Clinic

Female doctor wearing white lab coat. Headshot of Dr. Regina Bowe.

Dr. Regina Bowe, physician at The Frist Clinic in HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Division, is committed to educating her patients about the COVID-19 vaccine and her colleagues who may have hesitations. She recently shared her experience in receiving the vaccine and noted the vaccine is important in order to prevent more deaths and poor outcomes in patients.

“I think the vaccine is really paramount to preventing long-term effects from a COVID-19 infection, reducing the number of people that contract COVID, and definitely necessary for us to return back to normal life,” said Dr. Bowe.

Thank you, Dr. Bowe, for your passion to educate all patients on the best options for their health.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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