Vidant responds to allegations of hostile work environment

Published: Jun. 11, 2019 at 6:33 PM EDT
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The president of the Pitt County branch of the NAACP, Calvin Henderson, says the group is addressing issues of racial equality at Vidant Medical Center.

Henderson says out of all of the chief executives, there are no African Americans. For this reason, he felt the need to reach out to executives to address the problem.

"This team does not have African American representation. When we requested an explanation from the CEO, Dr. Waldrum, his response was, 'no comment,'" Henderson said,

Henderson says there is a stack of files full of complaints. One complaint says an employee was denied opportunities for advancing in a position despite the fact that the non-African American employee hired had less experience.

He says another employee complained that she needed accommodations when she lost two immediate family members within a 12-month span, and Henderson says, what happened afterward seemed hostile.

"As a result of her reaching out, and some other issues that surfaced, she was terminated. We felt like this was very hostile. And this will not align with policies of HR and Vidant Medical Center," Henderson said.

Henderson says when he originally reached out to Vidant executives, he received responses such as, "Do we have an obligation to respond to this?" He plans to give Vidant ample time to respond.

He said, "We feel that it will be very important and respectful to not only NAACP, but the community at large that he had stated that he was gonna reach out and ask for support with Vidant for them to step up to the plate. That's all we're asking—that we get a response...these people be treated fairly and equal as all other employees."

Vidant Health released this statement in response to the allegations:

“Vidant Health is committed to a culture that is equitable and inclusive.

This is a priority for the organization and directly connected to our mission and values as a rural health care system.

Racism and bias are problems deeply ingrained in our society. Vidant is committed to being a part of the solution. We have been intentional in our actions to include increasing the starting wage, actively working to improve diversity in leadership positions and developing collaborative community partnerships to build a diverse workforce.

We are proud to have launched equity and inclusion education in which more than 8,000 team members have participated and we recently hosted a national conference in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement focused on equity and inclusion in health care organizations.

More than 240 Vidant leaders have taken classes that include training where we explore bias as it relates to hiring practices and strategies to ensure we are aware of those biases.

We are aware of Mr. Henderson’s concerns. One of the ways in which we partner with our community is to have open and honest conversations. We have had multiple discussions with Mr. Henderson over the past few months and we are open to continued dialogue about the work we are doing on equity and inclusion.

In order to protect team member confidentiality, we cannot comment on personnel matters. However, we have a comprehensive and appropriate process in place to review concerns brought forward by our team members.

We are not perfect, but we are committed to making our organization a more equitable and inclusive place for all team members, patients, and their loved ones.”

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