Letters to the UMB Community

Report of Sexual Misconduct in Today's Baltimore Sun

Dear Colleagues:

You may have seen this article in The Baltimore Sun this morning regarding allegations of sexual misconduct at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and in our School of Medicine.

Yesterday, UMMC President and CEO Mohan Suntha and School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece wrote a letter to their employees outlining the steps they have taken over the past year to address the allegations of impropriety and to improve workplace culture and climate. These actions include convening 80 focus groups involving hospital and school employees to examine where the organizations fall short of a fair, respectful, and inclusive environment, and the creation of a task force to repair those deficiencies. I’ve replicated the letter from Dr. Suntha and Dean Reece below my signature.

As I share with you every academic year, UMB is committed to a work and learning environment free from harassment and discrimination. I can assure you that every single allegation of sexual misconduct reported to UMB—anonymously or not—is investigated according to our protocols. Furthermore, Title IX training is mandatory for all UMB students, faculty, and staff, and has been since 2014.

To report incidents of sexual misconduct, please contact UMB Title IX Coordinator Mikhel Kushner at 410-706-1852. To report anonymously, use the UMB hotline at 866-594-5220 or follow this link.  

The University is undertaking a thorough review of our policies and processes to assure that we live up to our highest ideals of professionalism, integrity, and respect. Cultivating a climate of openness and accountability requires constant improvement and constant vigilance. We are committed to both.

Sincerely,

Jay A. Perman, MD
President


Dear Colleagues:

We want to provide an update on what the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine have been doing to look introspectively at our culture and work environment, and to ensure that we work in a culture of exemplary professionalism, fairness, and sensitivity. As you know, over the past year, we have communicated with you several times regarding our workplace culture initiatives. We want to reiterate our deep commitment to the principles of a fair, inclusive, professional and respectful environment.

Our goal has been to identify current strengths of our workplace environment and to identify potential opportunities for improvement.

An overview of recent activities include the following: 

In the early part of 2018, we initiated an assessment of our culture across the Medical Center and the School of Medicine. This was conducted by an independent third-party firm. Their work included arranging a series of 80 confidential, organization-wide voluntary focus groups. These sessions were designed to help us examine the challenges and opportunities we face. The information we gleaned in fact helped us to shape future actions that demonstrate our joint commitment to fairness, respect and inclusion.   

This fall, we again addressed the SOM and UMMC communities and shared the focus group results. There were many positive themes, such as great inter- and intra-departmental teamwork, pride in our work and the high standards we maintain. The results also showed areas where there is room for improvement.   

We also announced the creation of a joint task force on culture, with a mission to “address these challenges head on, in order to improve communication and cooperation, ensure integrity, align processes, and allow greater employee empowerment.” This group is developing a roadmap for improvement, which includes evaluating our efforts, and reporting them to our community.

Another element we have been discussing recently is the importance of a “Just Culture,” one in which a workplace prioritizes inclusion and acceptance, and listens to shared concerns in a productive way. We will be launching training and education on “Just Culture” in 2019 to provide resources for leaders.  

We have also done significant work with our teams to advance a culture of professionalism, and to provide training to support the development of leaders. Training for physicians and nurse specialists in the Trauma Center include a series of leadership sessions focusing on current trends and dynamics in healthcare. Topics to be addressed include Organizational Culture, Accountability/Collaboration/Teamwork, Strategic Team Leadership and Diversity and Inclusion. 

Many other initiatives have been underway over the past two years:

  • In 2017, the SOM implemented training in “Unconscious Bias in Everyday Life” to help students, residents, faculty, and SOM leadership understand how unconscious bias might be impacting decisions we make from hiring to promotion to collegial interaction. This training was designed to increase the self-awareness of unconscious biases that may impact interactions with patients and colleagues. This awareness will assist us in identifying strategies that mitigate the impact of any bias and support a more inclusive environment at our institution.
  • In 2017 the SOM implemented a leadership development workshop series targetingassociate professors and junior faculty. These workshops provide opportunities for participants to develop and practice the skills necessary to become the next generation of leaders.
  • A number of women faculty leaders are developing and implementing new initiatives for faculty regarding work-family balance and mentorship for academic promotion.

Our team’s commitment to a fair, inclusive and professional environment is not new.  We do recognize that we must never stop looking closely at ourselves and we continually strive to be better. We know our work is not done -- far from it. But we want to make it clear that our commitment to a fair, safe, and equitable working and learning environment is real, and that the actions of so many of us at UMSOM and UMMC demonstrate that commitment.

Sincerely,

Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer

University of Maryland Medical Center
The Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Professor of Radiation Oncology
University of Maryland School of Medicine

E. Albert Reece, MD, PHD, MBA
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore

John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean
University of Maryland School of Medicine

 


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