Building Trust in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

March 15, 2023 by Darcel Jackson, CPXP, LSSGB & Desiree de la Torre, MPH, MBA


At Children’s National, we stand for diversity, equity and inclusion. We strive to foster, nurture and sustain a culture where everyone feels welcomed and respected at work and we champion these values in our community. Our continued commitment to each other and all the families we serve is central to our mission.  

Children’s National Hospital has advanced diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in pediatric medicine for more than two decades. In 2020, this work significantly expanded to include initiatives for creating a better, more equitable experience for patients, their families and all employees. 

To ensure employee engagement as well as long-term sustainability, the Chief Diversity Officer issued a hospital-wide call for membership and developed an all-volunteer Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program committee structure, that leads this work according to the principles of data-driven goal setting and performance improvement.  

Patient, Family and Community Engagement Subcommittee

One of these committees is the Patient, Family and Community Engagement Subcommittee. The Subcommittee’s mission is to advance health equity through patient, family and community engaged care, advocacy, research and education that ensures all populations have equitable opportunities to achieve and maintain health and wellness. It identified three priority areas: Access to Care, Equity of Care and Community Engagement.  

The Subcommittee has over 40 members from across the organization, including two parents/caregivers from our community – leaders from chaplaincy services to our community health centers to human resources – all playing critical roles identifying ways to improve DEI from a patient, family and community engagement perspective.   

Currently, the Patient, Family and Community Engagement Subcommittee is focused on building and restoring trust with patients, families, community and employees across the hospital. The Subcommittee understands that mistrust in healthcare runs deep, is personal, and must be addressed if we are to truly and adequately address health equity and health disparities; with the fundamental objective of improving the health and well-being of our community.  

As such, our work on building trust is guided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Health Justice Trustworthiness framework.  The AAMC Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE) — the AAMC’s national collaborative of health equity scholars, practitioners, and community partners — gathered perspectives from a diverse set of 30 community members from across the United States regarding trust, COVID-19, and clinical trial participation.   

These 10 Principles of Trustworthiness integrate local perspectives with established precepts of community engagement to guide health care, public health, and other organizations as they work to demonstrate they are worthy of trust.  

Our committee recognizes that to move forward, and both establish and regain trust we must actively measure trust as part of evaluation efforts, and engage our patients, families, community and staff to learn and collaborate on sustainable actions that will result in an equitable, respected and trusted healthcare system.   

Successes To Date

  • Received DEI Mini-Grant Funding to establish a Community Health Advisory Council composed of patients, parents and caregivers living in Wards 7 and 8 in DC and Prince George’s County in Maryland 
  • Contributed to the Children’s National and HSC Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) community engagement efforts 
  • Contributed to an Equity Impact Review process to guide the design and implementation of proposed and current plans, policies, program developments, operations modifications, or capital programs/projects 
  • Identified a process to analyze data to gain insights from our families using our Press-Ganey patient experience survey comments to understand perspectives regarding trust and respect based on demographics 

Header photo by Ronda Dorsey on Unsplash

About the author

Darcel Jackson, CPXP, LSSGB

Patient and Family Engagement Consultant at Children's National Hospital

Desiree de la Torre
Desiree de la Torre, MPH, MBA

Director of Community Affairs & Population Health Improvement within the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Hospital