Category Archives: Project: Mapping Commonplaces

Does Diversification Matter?

The following essay is meant to directly correlate to a separate presentation. Due to the inability to directly import a Prezi to Edspace, the presentation link is provided here. Enjoy! 

Does diversification matter?

These three simple words are the foundation for the sentence:

In today’s socially and technologically advanced world, how much does diversification really matter when it comes to healthcare?

Although these two sentences may generate different responses, they are both getting at the same idea. When I was beginning this project, I started by asking myself the second question. However, the more research I did to find an answer, the more I began asking myself the simplified question instead. Does diversification matter? If the answer to that was ‘no’, then the answer to my more complex question would ultimately be ‘no’ as well. After all, the root is the same no matter how many filler words I chose to add. However, answering the root seemed to be a lot more challenging.

All this came about when I was examining the website for the George Washington University Hospital. At the time, there were four main banners which would rotate whenever a guest visited the site:

These banners, which were simple in design, struck a nerve for me. I was annoyed to see the two pictures of the surgeons as white males, while the patients were all black, and only one female doctor was shown doing a seemingly simply task. This annoyance led me to question whether or not GW Hospital represented diversity at all. This, in turn, led to the question of diversity in healthcare, with the root of diversity in general. Now, the topic of diversity in general is a rather large one to tackle, so I decided to focus my efforts in the more immediate vicinity of Washington DC, with the neighborhood of Foggy Bottom (where GW Hospital is located) being of particular interest. By understanding what diversification looks like in DC, I was hoping to better understand the intent and viewpoint behind GWH’s website.

Before I got into the logistics of DC though, I wanted to have a clear idea of the importance of diversification on an economic/ fiscal level. I basically wanted to understand whether there was an open discourse around diversification and its benefits in the workplace. If there was an open discourse on the subject, and if diversity was in fact deemed beneficial, then that idea could be extended over to the healthcare field. As it turns out, there are a significant number of sources which do state that diversity is beneficial in the workplace (Johnson). Since healthcare is technically a business, diversity should be considered beneficial for them as well. With this in mind, I decided to give GWH another chance by watching their youtube video:

To put it softly, I was underwhelmed. The first time I watched it, I actually made a post for class explaining my displeasure. For me, they still just didn’t show enough diversity. This got me thinking, perhaps I was looking at this all wrong. Was diversification not important in healthcare after all? According to Akanksha Jayanthi and Meredith King it is. Both of these women reported on diversity in healthcare for various publications, and both women agree on the mutual benefit of diversity for both the healthcare providers and their patients. Given this information, and the solidity of the idea that diversification matters in economic terms, I decided to shift my attention to the cultural standpoint of diversity instead.

According to the US Census Bureau, minority populations will become the majority in America by 2043 (King). Do these changes in demographics impact us positively or negatively- or perhaps it’s some combination of both? Diversification allows people to broaden their horizons, and approach dilemmas from a viewpoint they would have otherwise been oblivious too. I look at it almost like dog breeds. Even though purebred dogs may be more expensive, mutts are actually often associated with fewer health concerns. This is due to the fact that a mutt, or mixed-breed dog, has antibodies and genetics from multiple ancestry lines. This arrangement of various genes helps to fight off more disease than a single breed, which may have only been exposed to a certain type of illness. When people come together, we are able to be more innovative. As technology progresses, it’s easier than ever for people who come from completely different socioeconomic, political, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to find themselves intermingling and assimilating with one another. One place where I think this assimilation occurs at a particularly rapid rate, would be Washington DC.

All this positive talk about diversity is great, but it paints a little too optimistic of a picture. The rose-colored glasses need to come off at some point. I do think it’s completely accurate to say that DC is very diverse, but that diversity needs to be correctly attributed to its source. Historically, DC was known as a very black city. In fact, upon its founding, about 25% of DC’s population was black (Iweala). After the Civil War, the black population increased even more as freed slaves moved north to establish better lives for themselves and their families. The years that followed were accompanied by numerous advances for the black community of DC, including the founding of Howard University (the nation’s most prominent historically black university). However, in recent years, this has changed significantly. DC is a city which has undergone substantial gentrification.

“DC’s economic transformation began when Anthony Williams, the control board-backed chief financial officer of the city was elected mayor in 1999. In his two terms, Williams brought over $40bn of investment to the city. Coupled with an expanding federal government during the presidencies of George W Bush and Barack Obama, this led to an unprecedented increase in population, increased pressure on existing housing stock, and a demographic transformation that has seen Washington’s African American population decrease by 7.3% while the white population has increased by 17.8% over the last 15 years.” (Iweala)

Depending on who you are, you may see these changes as good or bad. The overall standard of living has increased, and this new money has improved certain structural areas of DC. But these changes have also pushed back those who cannot afford to keep up with the times, and the overall landscape of DC has changed as well. One area where this is particularly true is the neighborhood of Foggy Bottom, a.k.a. the home of George Washington University Hospital. Foggy Bottom, like many other places in DC, is now a predominantly middle and upper class white neighborhood. However, it was previously a black neighborhood in the late 1800’s and the first half of the 20th century (25th And I St. NW). To illustrate the difference, below is a picture of a townhouse area in Foggy Bottom in 1955 vs today:

Today, that white townhouse (present in both pictures) has a Zillow estimated value of over $1,000,000. When considering such a drastic change in environment, it’s important to look at any possible influencing factor. One such factor for Foggy Bottom could very well be the George Washington University Hospital, and corresponding college.

GWH was built in 1948 and was the most technologically modern hospital of its age in DC. The hospital attempted to continue with that level of technological expertise, by completely rebuilding the 458,278 sqft 371-bed hospital in 2002 (The George Washington University Hospital). The current ownership of GW Hospital is between two companies, George Washington University and A King of Prussia (A King of Prussia is actually a subsidiary of Universal Health Services Inc. which is a Pennsylvanian healthcare management company).  A King of Prussia holds an 80% stake in the hospital, where GW only holds 20% (About).  It is interesting that even though UHS holds a much greater stake in the hospital’s management, GW is the company which gets the majority recognition. The name, logo, and location of GW Hospital are all directly correlated to George Washington University itself, and there is little reference to UHS at all. Therefore, the university should also be examined.

Located in the same neighborhood of Foggy Bottom, George Washington University is a private college in DC which was charted by an act of congress in 1821 (Admin). The annual tuition for GW is about $67,000 (including room and board), the student body is 55% white, 39% of all students come from families with a median income of over $110,000, and graduates from GW make an average of about $64,000 (Explore). Given all this information, it would be safe to say that the students, families, and alumni of GW tend to be fairly affluent. Many of the businesses, residences, and offices in Foggy Bottom are built to cater to the GW crowd, meaning they are built with larger disposable incomes in mind. With this understanding, it’s easy to see at least one reason why the overall atmosphere of Foggy Bottom could change so drastically.

Now let’s apply all this information to my original question: In today’s socially and technologically advanced world, how much does diversification really matter when it comes to healthcare? Clearly, diversification in healthcare is important. This is evident given the presence of a discourse around diversity in the healthcare and business community. What’s more, is that the George Washington University, the brand behind the hospital, has a website centered specifically around their efforts towards diversity and inclusion. As it turns out many of the previously quoted sources also discuss how diversification is significantly underrepresented in business, healthcare, and numerous social environments. The fact that GW is showing any type of diversity in their videos, may actually be a step in the right direction.

I recently revisited GWH’s website and rewatched their YouTube video. Now, both of these seem to incorporate a decent amount of minority representation. Sure, there could be more, and I do still think that the majority of leadership roles (such as surgeons) are made to be white males, but that may not be all bad. GWH is a business, and they have to cater to their customer. The hospital is located in an affluent area, and they cater to an affluent crowd. Pre-established ideas of who should be in leadership roles (such as white male surgeons) existed long before GWH created their video, or built their website. When reviewing their material, it’s evident that they are beginning to show both gender and ethnic minorities in ways which many places aren’t.

GWH is a commonplace location for those associated with the university, as well as many prominent citizens of the surrounding area. The hospital is in an area that is undergoing a significant amount of change, and they seem to be responding as best they can. Foggy Bottom, and DC in general, are experiencing economic and societal pressures which are changing their overall atmosphere, and GWH is no exception to this. Only time will really tell how well each of these places respond. But the one thing that is certain, is that the changes in one of these locations, will greatly effect the changes in the others. If GWH continues to push towards greater minority inclusion, then hopefully the rest of DC can follow.

Works Cited

“About George Washington University Hospital.” The George Washington University Hospital, 11 Mar. 2016, https://www.gwhospital.com/about.

“About Howard.” Howard University, 2012, www2.howard.edu/about/about-howard.

Admin. “The George Washington University Hospital WASHINGTON, DC.” HCD Magazine, 1 Sept. 2005, www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/architecture/george-washington- university- hospital-washington-dc/.

“Best Practices in Achieving Workforce Diversity.” govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/workforce-diversity.pdf.

Charron, David. “Five Walkable, High-Density D.C. Neighborhoods That Are Also Quiet.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Mar. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/03/13/five-walkable-high-density-d-c-neighborhoods-that-are-also-quiet/?utm_term=.c65e913fea36.

“Explore George Washington University.” Niche, 18 Apr. 2017, www.niche.com/colleges/george-washington-university/.

GWUHospital. “George Washington University Hospital – Quality Hospital Care.” YouTube, 16 July 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpn8Stb3MMQ.

“The George Washington University Hospital.” HCD Magazine, 31 Aug. 2005, http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/architecture/george-washington-university-hospital-washington-dc/.

Iweala, Uzodinma. “The Gentrification of Washington DC: How My City Changed Its Colours.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Sept. 2016, www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/sep/12/gentrification-washington-dc-how-my-city-changed-colours.

Ingram, David. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Diversity in Workplace.” Chron.com, Hearst, 2017, smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-diversity-workplace-3041.html.

Jayanthi, Akanksha. “The New Look of Diversity in Healthcare: Where We Are and Where We’re Headed.” Becker’s Hospital Review, 8 Mar. 2016, www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/the-new-look-of-diversity-in-healthcare-where-we-are-and-where-we-re-headed.html.

Johnson, Rose. “What Are the Advantages of a Diverse Workforce?” Chron.com, 26 Oct. 2016, smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-diverse-workforce-18780.html.

King, Meredith. “The Importance of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare|Brainwaves.” UVM Continuing and Distance Education, 25 Sept. 2014, learn.uvm.edu/bloghealth/cultural-diversity-in-healthcare.

Vinjamuri, David. “Diversity In Advertising Is Good Marketing.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 Dec. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2015/12/11/diversityinadsisgoodmarketing/.

“Vision and Mission.” Diversity & Inclusion | The George Washington University, The George Washington University, diversity.gwu.edu/vision-and-mission.

“Welcome To The George Washington University Hospital.” The George Washington University Hospital, 25 Apr. 2017, www.gwhospital.com/.

“25th And I St. NW.” Digital DC, The George Washington University, exhibits.library.gwu.edu/exhibits/show/digitaldc/foggy-bottom/25th-and-i-street-nw.