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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’… And there comes a time when a person must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but because their conscience says that it is right.”
At SSM Health, we follow the path inspired by our founding sisters. When they landed in St. Louis in 1872, the sisters had just five dollars between them. Yet, the sisters tended to the sick regardless of whether they could pay for that care.
In 1933, when this country’s lunch counters refused to serve blacks, the sisters opened the first Catholic hospital for treating African Americans. That same hospital trained African-American doctors and nurses. And when our nation’s schools were segregated, our sisters operated a hospital in rural Dillon, S.C., and refused to recognize the separation. By day, there were two nurseries in the hospital: one for black newborns and another for white newborns. Our sisters were practical women though. So, at night when the hospital’s staff was smaller, they put all the babies together. And guess what? The babies were just fine.
For SSM, diversity is both a moral and business imperative. In other words, it’s the right thing to do. If we serve diverse communities — and we do — then we must reflect that diversity. And truly our hospitals and patients are better off for having people of different races, ethnicities and experiences working together to deliver exceptional health care day in and day out.
At SSM, doing the right thing will always be a part of our consciousness.
Sister Mary Jean Ryan, FSMBoard Chair, SSM Health
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