Columbia Ob/Gyn establishes Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

February 23, 2021
Faculty and staff members in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Faculty and staff members in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center

As part of their ongoing effort to enhance equity, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center recently established an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The mission of the office is to support the recruitment, development, promotion and retention of trainees, faculty and staff in the department, as well as to advocate for the needs of our diverse patient population.

The office is led by two faculty co-directors, one to represent the needs of faculty and trainees and the other to represent the needs of patients, as well as an administrative director to represent the needs of staff.

Ana Cepin, MD, will serve as faculty co-director, representing patient stakeholders. Dr. Cepin is the Director of Community Women’s Heath, Medical Director of the Family Planning Practice at the Ambulatory Care Network, and a local and national advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive health.

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, MSc, will serve as faculty co-director, representing faculty and trainee stakeholders. Dr. Gyamfi-Bannerman is the Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Fellowship Director for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and works on the Committee on Appointments and Promotions.

Debra Keller, MPA, SHRM-SCP, will serve as the administrative director, representing staff stakeholders Mrs. Keller is the Director of Human Resources, Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development in the Department of Ob/Gyn and has extensive experience working with staff across the medical center.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of Ob/Gyn was established based on the recommendation of the Antiracism Task Force that was convened last year following the murder of George Floyd. Led by Janice Aubey, MD and maternal-fetal medicine fellow Desmond Sutton, MD, the Antiracism Task Force included more than 60 faculty and staff from the Department, holding numerous large and small group meetings over the course of the summer. The creation of a more permanent body to oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion activities was recommended.

“The creation of this office is an important step in combating racial and ethnic disparities,” said Dr. Cepin. “I look forward to the opportunity to improve outcomes for our patients and improve the health of our communities. In order to achieve excellence, we must provide care through a health justice lens and engage our community as partners in this mission.”

Although the Department of Ob/Gyn is one of the most diverse at the medical center, this alone is not a sufficient counter to deeply-embedded anti-Black racism.

“For the well-being of our faculty, our patients, and our staff, I am committed to continuing the work of antiracism and enhancing equity in our department alongside our colleagues at the hospital and medical center,” said Mary D’Alton, MD, Chair of the Department of Ob/Gyn at NYP/CUIMC. “These conversations are often difficult to have and require work and follow up, but they are necessary to ensure our progress toward a more equitable workplace and healthcare delivery system.”

In addition to its efforts within the Department of Ob/Gyn, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will also coordinate their work with the larger CUIMC and NYP systems. The medical center has hosted numerous anti-bias and bystander trainings in the past year and shared a roadmap based on its own task force, which included six members of the Department of Ob/Gyn. The medical center’s task force published a report of recommendations and actions late in 2020.

NewYork-Presbyterian has held a number of town halls, developed anti-bias training modules, and created the new Dalio Center for Health Justice, “dedicated to understanding and improving health equity, addressing health justice, and driving action that results in measurable improvements in health outcomes.” 

To learn more about the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, visit columbiaobgyn.org/diversity.