All posts by Christopher Boyce

The Collective – Affiliate Updates

We are excited to announce that Truman Medical Centers/University Health has become University Health! The name University Health reflects our commitment to patient care and highlights our role as an academic medical center and as the primary teaching hospital of the UMKC Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry. University Health has a long, proud history as Kansas City’s essential hospital. Our team remains dedicated to providing comprehensive care to patients, whether those patients have top-notch health insurance or no insurance at all. Our name has changed but our mission remains the same. Our dedication to this mission has helped us attain the recognitions described below and will drive us to accomplish even greater things going forward.

The Lown Institute Hospitals Index ranked University Health first in the state of Missouri, and 11th in the nation out of 3,200 hospitals examined. The Lown Institute Hospitals Index is the first national ranking to examine a hospital’s racial inclusivity with regard to its patients. The Institute created their rankings by assessing how well the demographics of a hospital’s Medicare patients matched the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding communities.

University Health’s workforce and diversity and inclusion initiatives placed us in the top 20 of the most diverse workplaces in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine. Other hospitals in the top 20 include the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, putting University Health in very good company. Forbes surveyed 50,000 Americans to pinpoint their employer’s dedication to diversity. The diversity ranking features the top 500 employers that received the most recommendations, had the most diverse boards and executive ranks, and the most proactive diversity and inclusion initiatives. 27 hospitals made the top 500 employers list. University Health ranked 18th for hospitals with an overall ranking of 155.

The Collective – STAHR Updates

The STAHR Ambassador Program is in full swing. We have transitioned back to in-person meetings and have already hosted our Kickoff Retreat and our first Workshop on Academic Support. Both events had more than 60 in attendance. In November, we successfully held our second workshop, which was centered on Mental Health and Wellness.

The STAHR Scholars Program has transitioned to providing our scholars with year-round support. In addition to the programming offered in the summer, we provide students with additional assistance as they aim to become the most competitive applicants for health professional school. We are currently supporting 34 students: 20 high school and 14 undergraduates. Our office assists with personal statement and resume review, interview prep, and resources for ACT and MCAT prep.

The Collective – UMKC DEI Updates

Drop in with the Office of DEI – As the Associate and Assistant Deans of DEI joined UMKC SOM during the pandemic, we recognize the need for the SOM community to have the opportunity to get to know us better including our plans for the Office of DEI. We plan to have regularly scheduled “drop ins” for people to stop by and say hello or to ask any questions. Please watch for more information about the dates, times and locations for these sessions at the Kansas City and St. Joseph campuses.

Anti-Racism and Cultural Bias Program – The program was formally incorporated into the School of Medicine curriculum with all medical students required to participate in the program prior to beginning clinical clerkships. Professor Mikah Thompson taught the first module entitled Cultural Self-Awareness/Cultural Sensibility during the 2020-2021 academic year. Remaining modules include Implicit Bias and Medicine, Privilege and White Fragility, The Social Construction of Race, Intersectionality, Microaggressions and Medicine, and Capstone. The Office of DEI is collaborating with the Office of Graduate Medical Education to expand the educational trainings about DEI to resident and fellowship trainees. More information coming in the future.

Critical Mass Gathering – The 16th Annual Critical Mass Gathering event was held on October 17-18, 2021 to support under-represented in medicine pre-medical and medical students as they traverse the continuum of a medical career. More than 100 participants attended the virtual event with seminars about financial literacy, specialty speed mentoring and networking, and discussion with the deans from the Kansas City medical schools. Chief Health Equity Officer from Humana Incorporated, J. Nwando Olayiwola, MD, MPH, provided the keynote address.

The Collective – Affiliate Institutions

Children’s Mercy Hospital

Virtual Equity and Diversity Education Sessions

  • Date: May 25th, 2021
    Topic: Immigrant and Refugee Families – Addressing Culturally Sensitive Strategies in a Healthcare Setting
    Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
  • Date: June 24th, 2021
    Topic: Unconscious Bias for Healthcare Professionals
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM
  • Date: July 22nd, 2021
    Topic: Culture & Language: Engaging Families Through Health Literacy
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM
  • Date: August 26th, 2021
    Topic: The Impact of Micro-Messages in the Workplace
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM

Remembering Sister Corita Bussanmas
Sister Corita Bussanmas, co-founder of Operation Breakthrough (OB), passed away March 27, 2021 at the age of 87. A 50-year champion of children and families facing adversity, Sister Corita spent most of her life providing social services, education and health for those most in need ( To honor the life of Sister Corita, Children’s Mercy Hospital had a formal collaboration with Operation Breakthrough, named Partnership for Resilient Families, which combined early childhood education and healthcare delivery efforts at OB.

Chief Residents
Each year, Children’s Mercy Pediatrics Residency Program selects three resident leaders from the second-year class to continue at CMH for an additional year after graduation and serve as key leaders of the residency program and the hospital.

We are excited to announce the Pediatric Chief Residents for the 2022-2023 academic year will be: Dr. Darius Blanding, Dr. Zuri Hudson and Dr. Jordan Marquees. They will start their Chief Resident year in July 2022. For the upcoming academic year, July 2021-June 2022, our Chief Residents will be Drs. Adam, Brown and Meyer.

  • Darius Blanding, M.D.
    Dr. Blanding grew up in small town South Carolina and graduated with an honors biology degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University before completing medical school at the University of South Carolina-Greenville. He came to Kansas City for the first time to interview for our residency program and we are excited that he has chosen to stay for a fourth year and serve as Chief Resident. Throughout his residency training, Dr. Blanding has been recognized for his friendly demeanor and approachability mixed with his leadership skills that are highlighted in medical school student government positions and work with diversity and inclusion at both CMH and UMKC. Dr. Blanding has career aspirations that include pursuing a fellowship in Gastroenterology followed by a career in medical education.
  • Zuri Hudson, D.O.
    Dr. Hudson was in the first cohort of the Mercy +ME pilot-year program of the rotation that was funded by the Black Community Fund of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. After growing up in Sharpsburg, Georgia, she headed to Atlanta and Georgia Institute of Technology (She will tell you ‘Go Jackets!’) where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology.  She continued her education at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee where she earned her medical degree as well as a master’s degree in business (M.B.A) and a master’s degree in biological sciences (M.Biol.S.).  When you meet Dr. Hudson, you will quickly see why her peers identify her as energetic, enthusiastic, and approachable in her role as a physician and leader. Dr. Hudson post-residency plans includes a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology and continued work on her passions of diversity, equity and inclusion in academic medicine, mental health, and advocacy.
  • Jordan Marquess, M.D.
    Dr. Marquess is a Kansas City native who earned an honors degree in biology from Kansas State University along with a minor in leadership studies before completing her medical degree from the University of Kansas. Our residency program was happy Dr. Marquess chose to ‘stay home’ and complete her training at CMH where she has utilized her leadership background to demonstrate for her peers a friendly and enthusiastic energy with disciplined and professional expectations for patient care and creating positive work environments. Dr. Marquess is considering fellowship opportunities in hospital medicine or critical care after her Chief year with a goal to be a lifelong formal and informal leader in medicine.

Walking the Talk: Glass Ceiling
In honor of Women’s History Month, Michelle Wimes, SVP and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, sat down with Children’s Mercy medical and research trainees to learn more about the obstacles they’ve overcome, who they see shattering glass ceilings, and what excites them about the future. Here is the Youtube link:

STAR Program

Congratulations to Dr. Bridgette Jones and Vickie Yarbrough on student and teacher selection of Children’s Mercy Summer Training in Academic Research (STAR) 2.0 Program, which provides a hands-on, high-quality research experience during the summer academic break for high school students and educators. During the 6-week program, held June 21 to July 29, 2021, participants will get the chance to:

– Work with Children’s Mercy faculty on an original research project.
– Develop a research publication for submission in a peer-reviewed journal.
– Learn about clinical and translational research methodology, writing, statistics, medical ethics, and career development.
– Network and learn with other students/educators from across the country.

The STAR Program 2.0 is held at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) and will also collaborate with the STAR Program at Duke University. The CMRI integrates research into healthcare by fostering a partnership among healthcare professionals, researchers, patients and families. Together we are pursuing discoveries to improve the health and well-being of children everywhere. The CMRI is located on the Hospital Hill Campus at 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, Mo.

Students and teacher are:
Mikayla Stamps – she is a student at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas
Paw Wah – she is a student at Northeast High School
Zackary Shelby – he is a student at Lincoln Prep
Yvonne Villa – she is a student at East High School
Kaison Hill-Beard – he is a student at Lincoln Prep
Ms. Danielle Farr – middle school science teacher at University Academy

Children’s Mercy Hospital Notes

Two abstracts from Clínica Hispana de Cuidados de Salud (CHiCoS) Research Group have been accepted for presentation at the upcoming Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in May. Congratulations to project leads Jodi Dickmeyer and Ryan Northup. The titles are “Where are they now? Spanish utilization and career direction of graduates of a pediatric bilingual continuity clinic” and “Spanish-speaking families’ perspectives on the acceptability and impact of culture and language coaching for bilingual residents.” The abstracts will be presented as an “e-Poster with Chat Q&A” as part of an on-demand virtual poster session available throughout the meeting and until January 2022.

In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31st), CM Pride Employee Resource Group hosted two guest speakers: Rachael Cady, Kansas City Center for Inclusion and Dr. Rachael Allen from UMKC.

African-American Advancement celebrated Women’s History Month with a special wellness session titled, “Survival Over Sisterhood,” which is a reflection opportunity to talk about how we treat and/or celebrate one another.

In partnership with Interfaith Employee Resource Group and Spiritual Services, CM celebrated a virtual Festival of Colors-Holi celebration, a popular festival that celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha and Krishna.

Children’s Mercy Office of Equity and Diversity and Spiritual Services conducted a Service to Honor Those Lost in the Atlanta Tragedy on March 23rd, 2021.

Truman Medical Center

Truman Medical Centers/University Health is excited to highlight two staff members who are expanding their roles to enhance the organization’s value in equity, diversity, and inclusion in our health care system.

Dr. Brett Ferguson, DDS, FACS, FICD, has become TMC/UH’s Medical Director of Health Equity. Dr. Ferguson serves our community as an accomplished oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He says he is happiest in the operating room. Among several other notable accomplishments, he is the recipient of the 2019 W. Kendall McNabney Heart for Healing Award, the first Black person to be elected to the board of trustees of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and chair of UMKC’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry. Many lives have been changed due to his passion to serve our community.

Kamera Meaney, MA, MBA, has assumed the role of Director of Nursing Administrative Services. She will lead projects on nursing wellness and resiliency, provide administrative support for the TMC/UH and UMKC academic-practice partnership, and will serve as the liaison between TMC/UH’s Nursing Administration and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Department. She is an alumna of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program and has been highly successful in implementing special programs and leading initiatives to advance equity in healthcare service delivery.

We congratulate Dr. Ferguson and Mrs. Meaney on their new roles. TMC/UH is confident they will enhance health care equity in our community.

The Collective – UMKC DEI Updates

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the School of Medicine DEI Council are actively working to ensure that all identities represented at UMKC SOM are seen, heard, valued and appreciated. We are aware that we cannot make announcements and statements for everything, but we strive to provide some form of recognition for all.

2021 Residency Match

Congratulations to our Students in Medicine, Academia, Research, and Training (SMART) Program who matched for residency training. We are so proud of you and all of your hard work towards this wonderful achievement.

  • Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – General Surgery – St. Joseph’s Hospital – Tacoma, WA
  • Rico Beuford – Emergency Medicine – Duke University Medical Center – Durham, NC
  • Manuela “Mela” Garcia – Family Medicine – Texas Tech University – El Paso, TX
  • Nina Govalla – Psychiatry – University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, AZ
  • Nila Jones – Internal Medicine – Kettering Health Network – Kettering, OH
  • Ginika Osude Ibezim – Family Medicine – University of Texas at Austin-Dell Medical School – Austin, TX
  • Debra Wekesa – Internal Medicine – University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha, NE

DEI Highlights

Women’s History Month
– Thank you to the presenters, panelists, members of the UMKC SOM Chapter of AMWA, and supporters of Women’s History Month activities. The month-long celebration included webinars about financial literacy, negotiation skills, leaderHERship, and a community service activity.

Panel Discussion – Thank you for attending our panel discussion about the documentary, Black Men in White Coats, on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. This was an impactful and informative discussion about the impacts of being a Black man in the medical profession, reasons for the decreased numbers of Black men in medicine, and potential action steps to mitigate this problem. Thank you to our moderator and panelists.

Michael Moncure, MD (moderator)
Jordan Grimmett
Darius Blanding, MD
Jackson Sadler, MD
Michael Moncure
Michael Weaver, MD
Gerald Woods, MD

Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia – Thank you for attending our panel discussion about anti-Asian racism and xenophobia on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. This was an empowering and safe space discussing the unfortunate rise in racism and xenophobia experienced by the Asian American/Pacific Islander community including the associated feelings about these acts and impact on the community. Thank you to our moderator and panelists.

Valerie Chuy (moderator)
Victoria Shi
Yen Luu
Nabeel Rasheed
Robin Imperial, MD
Rex Liu, MD
James Kim, MD
Nolan Kagetsu, MD

UIM Student Recruitment – At the School of Medicine, we continue to take action-steps towards supporting the recruitment of diverse students. This includes enhancing the pathway from our SOM high school and college student health sciences development programs with activities such as automatic interviews of participants for the Physician Assistant Program.We continue to create and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with K-12 schools, historically Black colleges/universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and non-profit organizations. More information to come in the future.

Learning Environment – The Learning Environment has been active and busy over the last few months in designing and creating content that promotes professionalism and respect at the SOM. The Project Expect Respect website is now up and running. This initiative is designed to highlight the stories and lived experiences of our SOM community in efforts to promote learning, teachable moments, and empathy from the experiences of others. Please visit to share your story or read the stories of others. The Project PEAK (Professionalism, Empathy, and Kindness) website is also up and running. This initiative provides an opportunity to share stories and experiences about the core values of the medical profession. Please visit to read and listen to colleagues stories as well as to share your own.

UMKC School of Medicine STAHR Program

  • The Ambassador Program wrapped up the year with its Culmination Ceremony on Wednesday, April 28th.  At the event, all professional mentors, student leaders and student mentors were honored. Additionally, we highlighted our 18 Spring 2021 graduates (6 from Medicine, 5 from Dentistry, and 7 from Pharmacy).
  • We are gearing up for our virtual Summer Scholars Program that starts June 1st for undergraduate students and June 14th for high school students. This summer, we will host 112 scholars in the program (40 undergraduates and 72 high school students). We are excited to kick-off the program soon! Take a look at what our 2020 Scholars had to say about the their experience in the program. What has UMKC STAHR Summer Scholars meant to you?


School of Medicine recognizes first I-Ph.D. graduate

Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer.

As graduates of the School of Medicine took part in a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on May 15 and 16, Provance became the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics.

He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.”

Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest.

Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care.

Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.”
– Jeremy Provance

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”

Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group.

“I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said.

Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said.

And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!”

The Collective – Affiliate Institutions

Saint Luke’s Health System

Department of Surgery Grand Rounds – Michael L. Weaver, MD, FACEP, CDM, Medical Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Nikki Beard, Director of Strategic Diversity Initiatives, presented The Journey of Diversity to Equity during the Department of Surgery Grand Rounds Jan. 14. Attendees of the one-hour virtual presentation received CME credits.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration – Saint Luke’s celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by sharing a series of articles internally for all employees, in addition to connecting them with a new library of resources, courtesy of the Saint Luke’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. All employees and providers were encouraged to share what they have learned or what inspires them about Dr. King. Digital displays and waiting room display in Saint Luke’s hospitals shared inspirational quotes from Dr. King’s messages.

Enhanced Care of LGBTQ Patients Training – Saint Luke’s provided information to all employees on online training courses available to all staff through the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Many of Saint Luke’s senior leaders have completed training courses, and Saint Luke’ encourages all employees to schedule time to participate in this valuable training to enhance care for our LGBTQ patients.

Children’s Mercy Hospital

Equity and Diversity Education Sessions

Children’s Mercy Equity and Diversity Education Series is focused on educating faculty, students, and health professionals about ways to address diversity, equity, anti-racism, and inclusion. It contributes to more effective strategies for improving health for individuals and communities of color, reduce barriers to quality healthcare access, and increase social equity for all.

Upcoming Sessions:

  • Topic: Berry Sisters Vision and Dr. John Perry’s Mission: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Children’s Mercy Date: Thursday, 2/23 Time: 12 – 1 PM
  • Not-So-Journal Club Topic: The Gifts Within Our Walls: A Conversation About the Experiences of Our Multicultural Faculty Members Date: Tuesday, 3/16/2021 Time: Noon – 1 PM

Overview: The not-so-journal club series aims to cultivate conversations that inspire personal and system change through examination of articles and other media that are particularly relevant to achieving equity in the healthcare environment.

– Discuss among faculty, trainees, researchers, and healthcare professionals in regard to improving equity in the health care environment
– Discuss with a panel of leaders how to address systems and structures, confront implicit bias and racism, and foster equity and inclusion in the workplace.
-Examine articles and personal feelings/behaviors in order to build a culture of inclusion Identify solutions that can make Children’s Mercy more equitable and inclusive.

The Office of Faculty Development (OFD) and the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) sponsored a Faculty Evening Event: A History of Black Healthcare in Kansas City on Feb. 11 via zoom in celebration of Black History month. In partnership with the African American Heritage Trail, the program presented information about the history of Black health care in Kansas City. Presenter Geri Sanders led a discussion of the history of black hospitals in Kansas City, talked about the leaders of the hospital movement and examined where they succeeded including major hospitals such Wheatley-Provident, General Hospital No. 2 and Children’s Mercy.

CM Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a group of Children’s Mercy LGBTQIA employees dedicated to fostering a welcoming culture of diversity and inclusion for our patients, families, employees, and community. It strives to provide education, awareness, and support around gender and sexual orientation as an intentional and strategic partner within Children’s Mercy. Through these efforts, we aim to improve the safety and care of our patients and families.

African American Advancement (A3) ERG is geared toward the support and advancement of Black and African American employees and the education of the entire Children’s Mercy (CM) family in matters relevant to Black and African American employees, patients, and families.   It envisions influencing CM policy and programming as well as promoting recruitment and retention of Black and African American individuals.   By focusing on these objectives, we hope to create a community where employees feel uplifted and encouraged, thereby allowing them to be great ambassadors to CM patients, families, and the greater community. A3, in partnership with the CM Child Life team, hosted a Black History Month fun programming activity on February 11th on CCTV. The activity was filmed in the Lisa Barth Chapel.


  • Walk the Talk with Michelle Wimes – Michelle Wimes, new SVP and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer invites CM staff and faculty to take part in “Walking the Talk,” a new video series that will educate and engage staff and faculty around issues on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Click here to hear more from Michelle!
  • CMH, KU Med, TMC and UMKC collaborated on a community forum on vaccine safety on Feb. 4. This virtual forum provided an opportunity to learn the truth about the COVID-19 vaccine from KC-area physicians and experts. Over 100 people attended and were able to receive great info and helpful resources regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic. A big thanks to our moderator and panelists.
  • The Office of Equity and Diversity wants to share some new resources that have been developed to help our communities of color gain confidence and trust in the Covid 19 vaccines. Please help us to share with community partners and use your platforms to help spread these video messages.
  • A Message to the Black Community about the Covid-19 Vaccine
  • Spanish video on Telemundo

Acknowledgements from CMH

  • Michelle Wimes shared a hopeful message at CM Interfaith Prayer Service on January 21st, 2021! It was a powerful moment for us to reflect and share on good news to come.
  • The Equity and Diversity Council is excited to announce the upcoming publication of a quarterly newsletter to include information from all diversity related workgroups, committees and endeavors throughout the hospital.
  • The 2019-2020 Equity and Diversity Report has been released. Check out what your amazing colleagues and outstanding Children’s Mercy leadership have been up to. Colorful captions and stories of success highlight our shared vision of diversity, health equity, inclusion, and service on every page. Thank you, Tiffany Chow, MA, MS, Project Manager & Health Science Summer Internship Supervisor for OED on her leadership and creative direction a beautiful report.

Additional Comments from CMH

On January 12th, 2021, OED and CM Spiritual Services Today continued to promote Dr. King’s vision of love as a potent social and political force for change. As our country struggles today, the message and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King are increasingly important and applicable to us all. A small group of faculty and staff from across the organization addressed the question: How would Dr. King’s teachings from the 60’s help us transform into a more just and peaceful country today?  Martin Luther King Jr. Program 2021.

Truman Medical Centers

Truman Medical Center/University Health’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion department in conjunction with the Diversity & Inclusion Council, had two exciting virtual programs for February, Black History Month.

A virtual conversation with Academy Award winner Kevin Willmott took place on Feb. 23. Willmott, is the creator of From Separate to Equal: The Creation of Truman Medical Center. He  discussed the groundbreaking documentary as it relates today in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historical health inequities that persist in the U.S.

Willmott is an Academy Award and Bafta Award winning screenwriter and filmmaker who has written and directed several feature films including Ninth Street, CSA – Confederate States of America, The Only Good Indian, The Battle for Bunker Hill, Destination Planet Negro! and Jayhawkers. He and Spike Lee co-wrote Blackkklansman, which won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 2019.  He teamed with Lee again in 2020 co-writing Da Five Bloods, which was just selected as the best film of 2020 by the National Board of Review.

Willmott recently completed the critically acclaimed The 24th, about the Houston riot of 1917.  He is also a playwright and works as an activist for peace and civil rights issues.  Willmott is a graduate of Marymount College of Kansas and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a Professor in the Film and Media Studies Department at The University of Kansas.

If you haven’t watched From Separate to Equal, take an opportunity to see it:

A conversation with esteemed poet Glenn North, Executive Director of the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, took place on Feb. 17.  Glenn, who received his MFA in Creative Writing from UMKC, is the author of City of Song, a collection of poems inspired by Kansas City’s rich jazz tradition and the triumphs and tragedies of the African American experience. He is a Cave Canem fellow, a Callaloo creative writing fellow and a recipient of the Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Award and the Crystal Field Poetry Award.

His work has appeared in the Langston Hughes Review, Kansas City Voices, One Shot Deal, The Sixth Surface, Caper Literary Journal, KC Studio, Cave Canem Anthology XII, The African American Review, and American Studies Journal. He collaborated with legendary jazz musician, Bobby Watson, on the critically acclaimed recording project, Check Cashing Day and is currently filling his appointment as the Poet Laureate of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District.


The Collective – Affiliate Institutions

Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Children’s Mercy Kansas City has offered multiple events about diversity, equity, and inclusion over the month of November with additional events planned in December. Recent events are listed below:

November 2020 – Annually, Ingram’s Magazine profiles Kansas City physicians who demonstrate exceptional skill in delivering medical care with Bridgette Jones, M.D., MSCR, honored as one of the top doctors.

Nov. 4 – La Casa Latino ERG, Office of Equity and Diversity, and Spiritual Services along with community partner Mattie Rhodes Counseling and Art Center for the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) holiday service. Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere associated with the Catholic celebrations remembering loved one who have died.

Nov. 11 – Coordinated by the Interfaith ERG and Spiritual Services, the Diwali celebration was part of the Wondrous Wednesday Series including dances and vocal performances.

Nov. 19 – Bruder F. Stapleton, M.D., senior vice president for scientific affairs at Seattle Children’s Hospital presented the topic titled “How to be An Ally in Addressing Racism and Discrimination” at Diversity Grand Rounds discussing his journey as an ally, pediatric leader, and addressing racism at Seattle Children’s.

Nov. 20 – CM Pride’s Education and Professional Development Workgroup partnered with the InterFaith Employee Resource Group to bring the Transgender Day of Remembrance honoring the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of violence.

Dec. 9 – Not-So-Journal Club series aims to cultivate conversations that inspire personal and system change through examining articles relevant to achieving equity in the healthcare environment. The last session was titled “I’m Speaking…and now I’m Leaving: Why Black Women are Leaving Academic Medicine.”

CM Pride T-Shirt Sale – CM Pride raised $1,500 from the T-shirt fundraiser for the GPS Clinic, which passionately recognizes and celebrates cultural differences.

Saint Luke’s Health System

Conversation with … “Conversations With” video series launched in fall 2020 to foster ongoing conversations among Saint Luke’s employees with the first video featuring the personal journey of Black Saint Luke’s leaders.

“Join the Discussion: What Taught You the Most in 2020? What Did You Learn?” – The DEI department leads a series of virtual discussions called “What Taught You the Most in 2020? What Did You Learn?” Fifteen hundred employees have joined the discussions with the program continuing into 2021.

Honoring our Veterans – Saint Luke’s acknowledged and thanked our Veterans via social media and with a special video honoring all SLHS veterans.

Truman Medical Center
Health Sciences Campus

Maria Morgan, J.D., is the new chief equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) officer. She has spent most of her career reviewing, developing, and implementing programming and policy focused on equity and inclusion through her work in health care and education.

Maria Morgan, J.D., and Russell Anderson

Russell Anderson is the new senior program manager for EDI. He will also be working with the chief human resources (HR) Officer to support HR programmatic needs.

Celebrating Diversity

In Nov. 2020, TMC/UH celebrated its veterans with a special flag-raising ceremony at TMC Lakewood on Veterans Day.  Employees who are veterans received “Challenge” coins and meal vouchers. The Day of Transgender Remembrance was acknowledged on Nov. 20 with a feature in the organizational newsletter and on the internal digital displays. Native American Heritage Month was acknowledged through various newsletters and social media.

In place of KC Marathon, Million Mile Challenge makes every mile count with free and discounted entries for SOM

The Garmin Kansas City Marathon is not alone in canceling its fall event because of the coronavirus, but its organizers are challenging runners and supporters in a new way.

UMKC School of Medicine and its hospital affiliate Truman Medical Centers are gold sponsors of the MILLION MILE CHALLENGE, KC Marathon’s running alternative for 2020. School of Medicine has 10 FREE entries available on a first-come, first-served basis, and all UMKC students, staff and faculty who register can receive a discounted entry fee.

“It was a tough call, but canceling the race was best for the safety of race participants, partners, staff and volunteers,” said Dave Borchardt, director of corporate and community relationships at the Kansas City Sports Commission, the non-profit organization that organizes the Garmin Kansas City Marathon. “Now, we are excited about the Million Mile Challenge and encouraged by the interest it’s received.”

The Million Mile Challenge is a fun and engaging way to support your local community while staying fit through training and running. Between now and Oct. 17, participants can track and log miles anytime and anywhere they walk or run, both as they train and complete their race miles (5k, 10K, half marathon or full marathon). The goal is to reach one million cumulative miles among all registered in the challenge, with key mileage benchmarks celebrated with randomly selected gift winners announced along the way.

The event concludes with a two-day, drive-through Finishers Fest Oct. 16-17 with fun photo opportunities, sponsor booths and other activities. There, participants can pick up their participant items in person, including a race-branded shirt, finisher’s medal, commemorative race bib and finisher’s certificate, Million Mile Challenger finisher item and the ultimate KC swag bag. Registrants may also have their race packets mailed directly to them (additional fees apply).

If interested in a FREE entry, contact Lisa Mallow ( Registration is open through Oct. 15, and the cost is $40. UMKC students, staff and faculty save 10 percent when using the discount code UMKCMED10.

To sign up and start logging your miles today, click here.

For UMKC medical student and entrepreneur Fahad Qureshi, health care connects it all

Driven. Creative. Optimistic. Curious. Determined. Smart. Happy. These are common traits found in successful entrepreneurs. All of them are found in Fahad Qureshi.

A third-year medical student at UMKC, Qureshi took third place in the UM System Entrepreneurship Quest Pitch Competition, where 20 student teams from across the four campuses presented innovative business ventures.

Qureshi is the founder and creator of Vest Heroes, which uses a system of pulleys and levers in the operating room to relieve surgeons from bearing weighted lead X-ray skirts and vests during long procedures. Wearing the vests are required by law and protect health care professionals from radioactive exposure. But they are heavy – between 30 and 69 pounds – and can hinder mobility.

Qureshi wasn’t nervous during the final rounds of competition, as he’s had the idea for a long time and knows the product well. In fact, his invention is patent-pending, and he’s launched a company to fulfill orders for 100 vests that will be used throughout the country. “I strongly believe in the idea,” he said, “and it was great to get affirmation from the judges. To know it’s real and it’s working – I feel good about that.”

As a child, Qureshi had a good friend who died during an operation following a bad accident. He heard the surgeon say that wearing his 60-pound vest made it hard for him to make movements during his friend’s operation – and that’s something he never forgot.

While finding a way to reduce the weight of these vests has been in his head for a long time – “10 to 12 years, maybe more” – he didn’t have the background needed to solve it … until medical school.

Once at UMKC, he gained academic understanding, expanded his medical knowledge, got into the operating room and participated in an engineering apprenticeship, completely independent of the School of Medicine.

“Just because you are practicing medicine doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for credit, I was looking for knowledge.”

He also found a local engineering firm to help out.

“When you have an interdisciplinary approach, that’s when you can really solve problems. Without medicine, I wouldn’t know what to build,” he said. “Without engineering, I wouldn’t know how to build it.”

In addition, Qureshi reached out to various physicians to get their opinions – how to improve the vest, how to grow consumer interest, what did and didn’t work well. His biggest support has come from Bogdan Derylo, M.D., a nephrologist from his hometown of Chicago and Akin Cil, M.D., UMKC professor and the Franklin D. Dickson/Missouri Endowed Chair in orthopaedic surgery.

“All of the feedback received was terrific,” Qureshi said. “The final model is a culmination of all the suggestions they provided.”

Qureshi, who worked minimum-wage jobs to fund the company so he can retain full equity, says mass distribution is his ultimate goal. He’s currently working with a Chinese manufacturer to help produce large numbers of the Vest Heroes, although that is sidelined now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Any doctor or health care professional that uses radiation has a need for this,” he said. “There’s really no downside to using it – it’s a necessity, as I see it.”

There’s no doubt that Qureshi’s entrepreneurial spirit motivates him, but he sees health care connecting it all. As for his future, he plans “100 percent to practice medicine.” And part of that plan includes research, his company and teaching the next generation of doctors.

“When you choose what you do every day, it should be something that makes you happy. Going to work shouldn’t be scary or dreaded. If your work makes you happy, you’re doing something right.”

In addition to Qureshi, the UMKC teams presenting pitches during the final competition were Greyson Twist, Ph.D., bioinformatics and computer science major presenting his Genalytic project; and Kyle McAllister, business administration graduate student presenting his company Compost Collective KC.