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Health care providers support implicit bias training mandate

Posted at 4:54 AM, Jul 10, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Health care workers in Michigan will have to get implicit bias training.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order requiring the training partly because of how COVID-19 is hitting Black communities harder.

The training teaches people how to recognize ways they might be biased without knowing it, teaches them ways to adjust their way of thinking and eventually change their behavior.

While COVID-19 has put a spotlight on bias in health care, the problem is more wide-ranging than that.

Health care providers across the state support requiring implicit bias training to renew their professional licenses.

In fact, everyone hired at Sparrow already went through the training.

"Because as you know, there is institutional racism in all institutions basically," said Lori Adams Simon, Sparrow's Senior Adviser for Diversity and Inclusion.

Adams Simon said Sparrow has required new employees to go through implicit bias training for three years now.

"So our caregivers understand how their personal bias impact how they treat each other as well as treat our patients," she said.

It's an introductory course so people can understand biases they may not realize they have.

"We don't get to chose who comes through our doors. So we have to make sure our caregivers have the tools and resources to get the job done," said Adams Simon.

Now every health care worker in Michigan will need this training to continue practicing in the state.

Governor Whitmer is making it a requirement after seeing how COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black communities.

"As people seek health care, they will be treated with equal dignity and respect, which will yield better outcomes," Governor Whitmer said.

McLaren Health Chief Diversity Officer Kimberly Keaton-Williams said this training is important for health care.

The network plans to roll out its training program in September.

"It's really important we understand who they are, and what their specific needs are and what their specific beliefs and values are," said Keaton-Williams.

Adams Simon said this requirement takes it a step farther than what sparrow is already doing.

"This is not a one time shot and then you're done. It has to be reinforced over and over again," Adams Simon told News 10.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has to begin the rule making process by meeting with stakeholders by November 7.

LARA said says it will take about six months to a year to finalize the rules for implicit bias training.

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