A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘diversity’ Category

Outrage

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day and I became outraged. It talks about how Google was putting information down about walking distance and calories when asked for directions. She felt this was fat shaming.  https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/google-cupcakes-and-terrible-ideas/

I do not necessarily agree that this was the best example of fat shaming. I actually think it is kind of nice information if you CAN walk.  The calorie indication is just part of the diet culture we live in. But there are other messages out there that are not only fat shaming, but blatant discrimination.

She mentions that in some places they have turned off the escalators so that people will use stairs. Swell. That is discrimination of people with disabilities whether they are small or large. I know plenty of people who cannot climb stairs or even worse, like in my situation, go down them. I can go up with a hand rail for support but coming down is not happening. My one ankle now goes completely out at any situation and makes me fall if I do not have something to grab. Imagine my luck on stairs.

What about wheelchair access? She was saying that they are putting up signs next to elevators to remind people to use the stairs because you burn more calories. Talk about rubbing it in the face of people who cannot make a choice. That is not fat shaming; it is just harassment of everyone who is disabled.

In other blogs she talks about the discrimination or fat shaming that occurs with large people getting medical treatment. She states one person she knew was denied health insurance because she was morbidly obese. (I hate that phrase with a passion) How is that not discrimination? How is telling employees that if you are over a certain body weight, you will have to pay more for your health coverage not discrimination and for that fact, legal? But places are doing it all over the country. My company almost went there.

We lump every large person into one category. FAT, LAZY, and UNRELIABLE. We are treated like liars all the time. (Yes, secretly I go home after work and stuff my face with ice cream and cake… and even if I did, what business is that of yours?) Doctors accuse of lying all the time. In my own experience, I was accused of gorging myself by my two doctors when I put on 17 pounds in 6 weeks. They were sure it was what I was eating. On my own, I stopped a medication I was put on and almost overnight, the weight disappeared. But neither would listen to me and I sat sobbing in their offices telling them how awful I felt since going on the medication. The medication also caused dyspnea, but they didn’t seem concerned and again said it was because I was fat. I did not have shortness of breath before or after. It was humiliating and hurtful and neither of them said anything afterwards when I proved it was the medication.

In this culture, large people are the remaining targets of the worse discrimination out there. We are outrage if someone is discriminated for color or race. They just sanctioned a baseball player for making slant eyes at an Asian pitcher. Bet if he called someone fat nothing would happen.

I can only speak for how this makes me feel. I see people’s expressions. I hear their words of disapproval, and I feel the ostracization all the time. I hear all the girls at work constantly talking about their suffering when it comes to dieting and they wear it like a badge of honor. “OH, I can’t eat that” or “I would love a cookie, but no…”

But this pisses me off more than anything: I eat my lunch at my desk while I am working. And I do this because I do not want to stop working, but more because I do not want to be judged. I eat the same thing every day. I have a bag of chopped veggies, an English muffin with mayo and 2 slices of “just turkey” (has no chemicals in it). I leave the veggies out to munch on. Just last week, someone came to my desk and had the gall to say, “OH my, what a healthy lunch.”  I said, “Yes, surprise! Fat people eat better than most. Why are you shocked?”  Oh did she do a back pedal. This is not the first time either. I actually have had people just come into my old office cubby when I was eating a salad and start lecturing me on diets.

The image I used for this post is what as me all riled up. “Fat ballerina.” This is inexcusable. Dress up like a fat person and make fun of them all night. Yes indeedy. Be the star of your party by humiliating people who often have no choice of their situation or health. Next we should make a costume to mock developmentally disabled folks and call it “Retard.” Or how about a costume that makes you look like you have a prosthesis and we can call that one “Gimp”?  Think I am going over board? Try walking around in a real fat suit and see how it feels.

 

New Diversity Role

blue-ball

Just when I think things at my job are going to crap and that I need to do something else, the spirits come together and things change. I am the type of person who works for a purpose.  I do not do well when I feel I am not doing something that might make a difference either in the workplace or community.

Where I work just went through a big change. Our CEO, VPs of Finance, Clinical and Quality are all new, as is most of their staff. Our Corporate Compliance officer is new. We took over a small homecare agency and have whittled their management staff down to five. We changed our team structure and how we do our daily operations. The last year has been one of transition and uproar including decreasing our workforce significantly. They let three of the directors go and only replaced one. I felt very vulnerable all year as I watched peers being downsized. Budgets were cinched and hacked at. It was an environment of uncertainty and I was not sure what the future was going to hold for me.

My education program has grown. I was allowed to hire a part time instructor at the end of the year. The position had been open for over a year with no bites. Now I have the perfect person who seems to do a bang up job. But most of my staff is very self-sufficient and I try to instill empowerment to grow on their own and take up causes, which they do. They are well thought of and often the resource of knowledge on many things. I have nothing to do with that, they are just amazing.

After three years, the company finally understands the power of blending learning and using the on-line training system I have built. Although I am sole proprietor of the program, it is still not enough to make me feel useful. The last couple of years, I have abdicated from committees because of one person in the company. She finally was found out and fired last spring. I also completed the Lean certification process and I am only the second person in the company certified as a practitioner. But even that is not satisfying.

I have three more years until I can retire. I figured I would keep my head low and wait it out, even if I was bored.

My biggest passion is to work with the staff to learn to become empathetic and compassionate. I have brought in great instructors and currently have someone teaching compassionate care in our orientation program. We had a meditation class too, but that instructor moved on to open her own coaching business. I tried bringing alternative therapies approaches, but even that met dismissal from the old VP of Clinical. I am going to start again to work on programs as now they are looking for them and accepting them.

For three years, I was the facilitator for our Patient Family Centered Care program. At one time, that was very big within the company, but as the years went by, the focus was on trying to save the company financially and overhauling Leadership. PFCC went down the tubes. Now, we have a new VP who sees how the visit experience is as important as the clinical portion and has set up a new committee and asked me to sit on it.

On Friday, we had a meeting that I was dreading with a group from DSRIP which is a State Medicare funding group. We had submitted a survey about our Cultural Diversity and Health Literacy programs to them and it was not a good result. We looked terrible in our diversity training and practices. I figured I was going to get hammered and left hung out. The CEO, all the VPS and two other directors were in this meeting.

AS I sat down to the table, I kept my head down and waited for it to begin. I sort of recognized one of the gentlemen, but I was not sure. As we went around the table, at his turn, he started with “HI Jane, it’s good to see you again.” At first I was unsure, but then realized he had headed up a committee I was on at the University. He is the nicest gentleman, and brilliant. The fear was gone. The discussion started and my turn came to share about our existing programs. I explained much of what I teach in my Cultural Diversity Class and other classes. On the survey, the VP had answered we did not do any Cultural Diversity training and I do not know why she did that. It was not true at all. Dr. Byrd smiled at me and said, “I knew you had this covered.” You should have seen the faces of the others, especially the VP who filled out the survey.

After we talked, they (DSRIP) talked about what they will be doing to help us grow our Diversity program more. But one of the things they require is someone to be the Champion for the project. I figured that the VP who filled out the survey and who is now heading up the Patient Experience was going to speak up and say she would be that person. It would be something she would have done, but Dr. Byrd, looked at me and just told the board it was going to be me.

So now I am the Champion of the Cultural Diversity program at our company. Our Mother Ship, the University Medical Center, has also just jumped on the Diversity wagon and has formed a big coalition and program there. It is timely, especially now with all the hatred and blatant ignorance which seems to be more and more condoned by people.

I am up to the challenges that come with this. I am excited to be working with Dr. Byrd again. There is funding and expertise that comes with this affiliation so I am not going to be working under a dire budget. But most of all, I feel like I can have an impact with this. This project is not the same fight of the 60’s and 70’s with just discrimination being the main focus. It is about educating people about the differences we all have and becoming inclusive. It is about being aware, compassionate and even a tad empathetic when working with our patient population and also within our workforce. This brings me back to the reasons I took this job.