Health care workers protest at MUSC, accuse board of 'smoke and mirrors shell game'


Health care workers felt like their voices need to be heard Friday. They gathered at MUSC following a board of trustees meeting to express what some described as secrecy and contempt by the board and those in leadership roles at MUSC.

The protest was accompanied by a press conference organized by Healthcare Workers United.

"Instead of MUSC moving toward a workforce where all of its employees feel that they are part of the MUSC team, the BoT appears to be retreating from a true representation of diversity and inclusion. By consistently rejecting ideas and suggestions, the Board is not promoting a better work environment for MUSC employees, patients and now doctors" said Pastor Thomas Dixon in a statement issued by the organization.

Among concerns cited by health care workers at MUSC and Healthcare Workers United is the "pay per patient" issue.

"Doctors are the latest victims to the board's arrogance. MUSC has ignored us for fair grievance reform, public comment and now they are ignoring the concerns of their own doctors. Inevitably, patients will pay the highest price," said protester Leonard Riley in the same statement issued by Healthcare Workers United. Riley echoed his statement Friday morning.

"We are not gonna stop. Workers rights are human rights, and everybody deserves to have a living wage," Riley said.

Those protesting the action of the board also attended the morning board meeting. Pastor Dixon said they left the room when a doctor began to speak about diversity and inclusion at MUSC. Dixon described the conversation as a "smoke and mirrors shell game."

MUSC distributed a statement at the meeting similar to a statement sent to ABC News 4 (view below), addressing issues of inclusion and diversity. Dixon argued the response includes nothing about workers and their concerns.

"You see, that's how they continue to deceive the public. They talk about diversity and inclusion, but in reality, nothing they do has to do with the workers. Until the workers are included in the dialog... we cannot talk about inclusion. We can only talk about diversity."

"Don't brag about the inclusion part when you aren't doing anything to be inclusive," Dixon said.

MUSC issued the following in response to the questions on inclusion and diversity:

MUSC is on track to spend $52 million with small, women- and minority-owned businesses during construction on the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women's Pavilion and will spend $13 million with African-American-owned businesses in phases 1 and 2 of construction.

Read more:

*The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) ranks MUSC in the 97th percentile for medical schools with the most African-American students.

*AAMC ranks MUSC in the 95th percentile for medical students preparing physicians to care for patients from different backgrounds.

*MUSC has increased the percentage of African-American nurses by 7 percent to 11.2 percent in less than two years.

*All six MUSC colleges have diversity officers.

*All new faculty, staff and students participate in mandatory diversity and inclusion training. One hundred percent of leaders at MUSC Health completed at least four hours of diversity and inclusion training in the last year, including courses in managing a diverse workforce and unconscious bias.

*MUSC has increased the number of diversity and inclusion education opportunities by 54 percent and the number of program participants by 36 percent.

*The Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program in MUSC's College of Graduate Studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health, recruits diverse students to the biomedical sciences to better address and reduce health disparities.

*The Minorities in Medicine program is a partnership with College of Charleston Admissions bringing mentors and other resources to prospective underrepresented minority medical students.

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