Black staff launch affinity group at HHS
When social worker Shollet Burke saw a post on our staff intranet about the creation of a Black staff group last fall, she knew she wanted to get involved.
“We’re talking about Black health-care workers coming together and I wanted to be a part of that,” she says. “The Black affinity group is about meeting different Black health-care practitioners here at Hamilton Health Sciences and sharing our experiences. It’s about developing ways that we can collaborate and share resources. I want to learn from my colleagues who have expertise in different areas. It’s a way of engaging, really.”
Opportunity to connect
The Black employee affinity group is open to Black staff, physicians, learners and volunteers at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). The group is a space to connect, share resources and information, and work with the Human Rights and Inclusion Team on projects and initiatives, such as Black History Month programming.
“It’s a small group and we’re in the building stages,” says Burke. “Sometimes we need to build from small things so we can grow. We’re talking about reviewing information in HHS policies and we’re brainstorming about what’s next.”
Burke is the social worker for the Epilepsy Clinic and the inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Hamilton General Hospital (HGH)’s neurology department. She started working at HHS in 2016 in emergency medicine. She currently provides coverage to the Stroke Prevention Clinic as well as coordinating home care services to support patient discharges from the hospital. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was redeployed to work in the Intensive Care Unit and Burn Trauma Unit at HGH.
Giving back to the community
Burke sees the affinity group as an extension of why she works in health care to begin with.
“Working at HHS is personal for me,” she says. “This is my community hospital. And I want to be in a position where I give back to my community where I grew up.”
She describes her mother as an inspiration for her work as well. “My mother is an internationally-trained nurse from Jamaica who provided care to many seniors in the Hamilton area. It was not easy for her. She struggled to be recognized in her profession here. It’s something that she loves, something that she worked at, something that she was an expert in, and she struggled to do the job that she knows she can do.”
Black History Month at HHS
Burke hopes more people at HHS will hear about the Black staff affinity group and also about the resources available for Black History Month.
“I will definitely be participating in some of the events and information developed here at HHS,” she says. “There is something for every single soul. You can use it within your work and within your personal life. I would encourage people to do some independent work during Black History Month.”
At home, the talk about Black History Month comes full circle.
“I talk to my little one about my mother, who is my role model, and her struggles getting into the profession here and what that was like for her, because she talks about it. She paved the way for us to do what we do. Every day is Black History Month for me.”
If you are interested in joining the Black staff affinity group, please email the Human Rights and Inclusion Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The next meeting is on February 23.
To access the HHS Black History Month calendar of events and resources, please visit the staff Hub.