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Baltimore— The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) has recruited a physician with deep roots in addressing healthcare inequities over a career spanning nearly three decades, and lived experiences in inner city America, to serve as the System’s first-ever Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO).
Roderick K. King, MD, MPH will join UMMS this summer and will be tasked with working collaboratively across the System to develop a long-term roadmap for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that aligns with the System’s strategic plan.
“One of the things that excites me most about this position is the kind of far-reaching impact my role could have on the health of people in the state of Maryland,” said Dr. King.
“In addition, because this role is one of the first of its kind in a large health care system, UMMS is at the forefront of leading a movement. I believe that increasingly, health care systems are recognizing the importance of a role like mine in their C-suite. We have an opportunity here to demonstrate measurable results in health improvements in diverse populations that can lead to the adoption of best practices nationwide. I have done a lot of work with hospitals, health plans and community-based organizations during my career and am encouraged that UMMS is making great strides to integrate strategies for diversity, equity and inclusion into hospital planning at the highest levels.”
Dr. King currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation and in multiple roles at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where he is Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement; Director of the MD/MPH Program; and an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics. He also serves as an associate professor at the University of Miami Business School in the Department of Healthcare Management and Policy.
Dr. King will join UMMS this summer.
“With his breadth of experiences as a practicing clinician, a professor and an administrator at an academic medical institution, and in health policy with the federal government addressing underserved communities, Dr. King stood out among the candidates,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of UMMS. “His personal experiences with diverse and underserved communities will be invaluable in leading our efforts at building individual, institutional and community excellence in health equity across the communities we serve.”
Among Dr. King’s responsibilities will be building organizational goals and fostering institutional change; integrating DEI work into the operations of the System and providing executive level guidance and direction to incorporating DEI best practices. He will also be charged with developing and executing a training and education strategy focused on increasing awareness, knowledge and skills of UMMS staff for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“My passion for this work stems from my lived experiences,” said Dr. King, a native of Brooklyn, NY. “I grew up in the inner-city, at a time when youth violence and health issues, particularly in communities of color, were a huge challenge.”
Dr. King’s father was a primary care physician in Brooklyn for more than four decades, caring for the underserved and addressing issues of health inequalities his patients experienced when treated at larger health systems.
“The issues around access to care and having providers as a trusted messenger have been around for decades,” Dr. King added, noting the COVID-19 pandemic has “lifted up the rock so we can see all of the inequalities that exist and that we as a health system need to tackle if we are going to truly be committed to improving the health of the people and communities we serve.”
Dr. King said among his biggest challenges, will be tackling issues of health inequality in communities and counties across the UMMS footprint that is very different.
“The key will be assessing what the equity and diversity issues are in each of the System’s service areas and identifying strategies unique to each in order to move the needle on addressing these health inequalities and optimizing health and wellness.” “My experience is that if you’ve seen one community, you’ve seen one community,” Dr. King added.
“If you are truly going to tackle equity and diversity and effect long-standing change, you have to address the challenges and problems that are unique to each geographic area.”