A Reflection by CEO Mike Marsh on the Day of George Floyd’s Memorial

An important message for the employees and physicians of Overlake Medical Center & Clinics.

Over the last three months our resiliency has been tested. First, we experienced a pandemic, challenging nearly every aspect of our daily lives, both our work and home environment. This pandemic gave us a daily dose of both physical and economic uncertainty. Healthcare workers are well known for running toward the crisis, not away from the crisis, but the relentless nature of COVID-19 undoubtedly made many of us just want to close our eyes and make it go away.

Then on May 25, 2020, in the midst of COVID-19, many of our eyes were opened by another pandemic, the scourge of systemic racism and bigotry. The recognition, that even before COVID-19, many among us were living daily with a sense of physical and economic uncertainty. The senseless killing of George Floyd is a flashpoint in our history as a country.  Mr. Floyd was not the first black person to die at the hands of a senseless act, because of generations of racial bias, but his death has ignited a flame of hope, brought about by the tens of thousands of peaceful protestors representing every race, religion, age and gender preference. Out of his death, comes the call to action that we stand together against racial injustice and disparities of inequalities wherever they exist. We must seek to understand what unites us, not continue to reinforce those things that keep us divided.

While looking outward at the protests and calls for change, we at Overlake also need to look inward. Are we doing enough to embrace the diversity of ideas, cultures and beliefs that exist in our community and at work?  How can we seek to understand as much as we seek to be understood? Our shared value of ‘Respect’ demands of us to “demonstrate ‘admiration’ for each person’s unique abilities, qualities, and achievements, celebrating the fact that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.” What I love about this value is we are asking one another to admire our uniqueness, not just accept it. And yet, what I realize as I read this definition of respect, is the word cultural and/or ethnic uniqueness isn’t called out. This needs to change. We need to be explicit that our systems, structures, behaviors and values all reinforce our need to embrace the diversity of our team of caregivers across all dimensions, especially cultural and ethnic.

Today is George Floyd’s memorial, it is a time of reflection and sadness; it is also a time of making a commitment to aspire to the highest calling of our shared values. Our commitment at Overlake is to do just that. Today, executive leaders will convene to define a process to ‘seek to understand’ and pursue ways to better serve our community and employees by addressing some of the underlying dynamics of systemic racism and cultural intolerance. In doing so we will rise collectively to be our best as an organization and also be our best to one another. 

Thank you for your commitment to a life of service and caring for others. Thank you for being part of the Overlake family. Please take care of yourself during these challenging times.

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J. Michael Marsh
President & CEO
Overlake Medical Center & Clinics