“Let me begin by saying one thing: Massachusetts General Hospital will never discriminate against people.”

Staff filling the O’Keeffe Auditorium erupted into applause following those words by Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, senior vice president for Patient Care and chief nurse, who hosted a town hall discussion Feb. 1 focused on diversity and inclusion.

“I think it’s perfectly clear from our leaders – Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, and Thomas J. Lynch, MD, MGPO chairman and CEO – that they are committed to doing whatever is possible to support our patients, our staff and all of our families – whatever it takes,” said Ives Erickson.

During the hour-long session, Ives Erickson encouraged attendees to share their concerns, questions and feedback in the wake of the executive order signed by President Donald Trump that placed a temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Helping to provide responses was a panel of MGH staff from various areas of the hospital community: Steve Taranto, director of Human Resources; Bonnie Michelman, director of Police, Security and Outside Services; Carmen Vega-Barachowitz, director of Speech, Language and Swallowing and Reading Disabilities; Zeina Marshall, patient care associate in Labor and Delivery; and Imam Elsir Sanousi, of MGH Chaplaincy.

Michelman encouraged staff to speak up if they witness or experience any concerning behavior. “If you see or hear something, say or do something,” she said. “Our department’s goal is to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome at all times and I encourage you to reach out if you need advice or are simply feeling uncomfortable, or need an escort. We are here for you.”

The group stressed there are resources available for staff seeking guidance or support, including:

--Partners Office for International Professionals and Students at pips@partners.org.

--Employee Assistance Program at 866-724-4EAP or via email astidsen@partners.org.

--MGH Chaplaincy at 617-726-2220 or via email at esanousi@partners.org.

--MGH Police and Security at 617-726-2121.

--Human Resources at staranto@partners.org.

"We need to elevate all the ways that we are good and make sure we turn to someone and say, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’” said Ives Erickson. “We need to think about how to reach out to a fellow human being and say, ‘I appreciate you.’ I encourage you to make a commitment once a day – a minimum of once a day – to reach out to someone. We have all of you in this community who are dedicated to a solution and we really need that human-to-human interaction.”

Mass General staff join together to celebrate the hospital’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement: