• Article
  • February 1, 2021

Commentary: Children’s Hospitals Must Take Bold Action

Let’s embrace new strategies, take risks, and be bold together.

By Marcy Doderer, M.H.A., FACHE

Mark Wietecha, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital Association
Marcy Doderer, M.H.A., FACHE, Board Chair, Children's Hospital Association

The long anticipated new year has finally arrived, yet much of our day-to-day work looks the same as it has for the last nine months. Face masks are part of our dress code; entire teams work remotely; and front­line staff adapt daily to new restrictions, testing and vaccination procedures, cleaning processes and more.

While weariness seeks to rob us of our perseverance, my hope is renewed by the conviction that drives us as a community of children’s hospitals—to ad­vance children’s health amid the pandemic.

Despite challenges, our commitment to the children and families in our communi­ties has not waned. Our care and concern for our teams’ well-being have only grown as we have seen the sacrifices so many of our team members have made and witnessed the reality of racism and bias experienced within our own walls and beyond.

As champions for children across the nation, now is the time to set the stage for a resilient generation of kids. Acting boldly together has never been more critical. Our communities and workforces depend on our ability to collaborate, learn, and implement new strategies. This work must result in real change for children’s physical and mental health and ensure diversity, full inclusion and equity among the families we serve and our employees, leadership and governance.

We must become a change agent for better mental, emotional and behavioral health for children. The demands on health systems to care for these needs have only increased with the prolonged effects of the pandemic. The Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) can be a lead partner through which we work, advanc­ing solutions that focus on family empower­ment, clinical integration, prevention research and predictive analytics, and public advocacy.

We also must work to create and deliver organizational cultures where everyone feels valued and actively participates in the mission of our organizations. Racism stands firmly in the way of improving children’s health.

Therefore, we must remain vigilant in our quest for a diverse and inclusive com­munity and in standing against racism and discrimination wherever it exists. Let us set an example for the communities we serve.

Our goal cannot be small improvements. We must be brave during these unprec­edented, unpredictable times. We must aim higher than ever before. We cannot tackle the work before us alone. We need each other and every member of CHA to move our work forward. Make a commitment to take your virtual seat at the table. Let’s embrace strategies, take risks and be bold together so as to fulfill our missions.

Here’s to a new year, renewed hope and a steadfast commitment to advance chil­dren’s health across the country.

Marcy Doderer, M.H.A., FACHE is CHA’s board chair and president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Send questions or comments.