Recognizing the need to bring greater attention to the diverse populations served by the Froedtert & MCW health network, nursing teams in the Froedtert Hospital Medical Intensive Care Units formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) Committee in January 2022. The committee is composed of clinical nurses and advanced practice registered nurses who are dedicated to building an environment that is respectful and inclusive to all patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. 

The committee initially set forth to educate staff on diversity and to create a safe and inclusive environment for all patients. They achieved this goal by successfully delivering education on gender-affirming care, the value of pronoun stickers, Hmong cultural awareness, the stigma of the “noncompliant” patient, caring for patients with autism and cultural and religious end-of-life considerations. As a result of these efforts, a patient recently commented that the use of pronoun stickers made them feel “safe.” 

Over the course of the year, the DEI committee also rolled out hair kits that included products designed for thick, coarse or curly hair. Staff found creative ways to gather funding and provide this resource. After great success was achieved with the initial hair kits, the DEI committee performed a product trial in partnership with Froedtert Health’s Supply Chain team to evaluate inclusive hair products sourced from a local, black woman-owned business. 

The work of the DEI committee extends beyond the walls of Froedtert Hospital, working closely with Project Homeless Connect to offer glucose screenings and diabetes education in the community. Project Homeless Connect helps people who are experiencing homelessness in the Milwaukee area by connecting them with supportive resources. Due to the transformational leadership of the DEI committee, progress has been made toward reducing health disparities and advancing diversity and inclusion in health care.