Celebrating Pride Month & the More Pride ERG

June is Pride Month – a time to celebrate, support and uplift the diverse voices and experiences of our LGBTQIA+ employees, patients and community.

It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress made toward equity and to reaffirm our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment for all.

We bring this promise to life every day at Southcoast Health through our efforts to foster a culture of belonging, ongoing education and the provision of LGBTQIA-inclusive and gender-affirming care to our patients.

Dedicated to More

Southcoast supports our LGBTQIA+ employees and community through a variety of initiatives aimed at promoting acceptance, understanding and equity. Much of this work is accomplished through our More Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG).

This diverse team of LGBTQIA+ community members and allies was first established in 2019 as a workgroup called 3Ps – Preferred Names, Pronouns and Policies – to give a voice to and meet the needs of our LGBTQIA+ employees. This group partnered with the DHS Epic team to establish the Welcoming & Knowledgeable Project, which was rolled out in 2022, and has accomplished multiple goals, including:

  • Adding preferred names, as well as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) data collection in the Epic system, to ensure patients feel welcome and understood by their providers and to help Southcoast monitor and address health disparities
  • Provided access to this data collection via questionnaires in MyChart so patients could enter information into their record at their leisure
  • Developing and distributing SOGI and Welcoming & Knowledgeable brochures
  • Providing mandatory training for all employees focused on LGBTQIA+ issues, the importance of using inclusive language, understanding the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals and recognizing unconscious biases

“It’s important to me to be part of an organization that’s aligned with my own personal goal to promote positive change and inclusivity,” said Sydney Preston, Senior Graphic Designer at Southcoast Health. “The More Pride ERG allows us to affect change for our colleagues and our patients. Together we’ve accomplished so much, but I’m particularly proud of the launch of SOGI data in Epic because it enables patients to enter their preferred data and control the narrative of their healthcare experience.”

With a growing member base, the 3Ps evolved into the More Pride ERG – providing a vital platform to connect, share experiences and advocate for positive change. Today, the ERG organizes and participates in community events, Lunch & Learn sessions and networking opportunities that foster a sense of community and support within the workplace.

This year, we are celebrating several significant milestones to support LGBTQIA+ employees and patients, including:

  • Designating gender-neutral bathrooms, which will be expanding to more Southcoast locations, ensuring safe, inclusive and respectful spaces for people of all gender identities
  • Coming soon: the inclusion of Preferred or Chosen names on badges, affirming each individual’s identity in an environment where everyone can feel seen and free to express themselves
  • Improving access to gender-affirming care to validate gender identity and improve mental health, wellbeing and quality of life
  • Celebrating Pride Month with live virtual speaker and panel events, social media, printed promotion, community engagement, coordinated chalk art events and sharing the stories of featured colleagues
  • Recognition of Transgender Day of Visibility and Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • Creation of an LGBTQIA+ Patient/Family Advisory Group with community members

We’re also giving back to the LGBTQIA+ community through partnerships with local organizations. This year, the More Pride ERG introduced its limited-edition Pride t-shirt, lovingly designed by Sydney Preston, to celebrate Southcoast Health’s LGBTQIA+ community. A portion of the net proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will be donated to the South Coast LGBTQ+ Network, helping to empower and uplift our LGBTQIA+ community.

“I’ve witnessed the full evolution of this ERG, and it has made such a positive impact on Southcoast and our community,” said Jim Feen, SVP, Chief Digital & Information Officer and Executive Sponsor of More Pride. “I don’t think the work that this group has done to impact inclusion, engagement and understanding can be overstated – and in so many ways it’s just the beginning, which is really exciting!”

And that’s essentially what More Pride has been about since its inception. “Members and allies alike share a common purpose,” says Bobbi Jo Thatcher, Southcoast’s Manager of Food Service Operations. “For everyone to feel accepted and comfortable – in their workplace and community – and to feel a sense of belonging.” Fatima Melendez, an Occupational Therapy Assistant with Southcoast VNA adds, “To me it means being a part of something that offers a spot for people to gather, support each other and show solidarity. Everyone needs to feel supported and accepted.”

Southcoast’s More Pride ERG is co-chaired by Chuck Cusson, Executive Director of Talent Management and Organizational Capability, and Katelyn Ferreira, Health Equity Program Manager, with the support of Jim Feen as Executive Sponsor, and so many others.

Visit More Pride to meet the Faces of Southcoast and learn about our Pride events and Diversity Equity & Inclusion efforts.