New & Notable: Deborah Grimes
Chief Diversity Officer, Ochsner Health System
“One of the big things COVID-19 has highlighted in the national conversations the health disparities that have been, and continue to be, a reality.”
These are the words of Deborah Grimes, RN, JD, MSHQS, who became Ochsner Health System’s first-ever chief diversity officer on Feb. 28. Grimes is tasked with helping Louisiana’s largest health system eliminate this problem by supporting the ongoing development of policies and practices related to diversity and inclusion in the system’s recruitment, retention, workforce planning and career development processes, as well as improve health outcomes and equity for all patients.
“Ochsner has been committed to appreciating diversity and inclusion for a long time,” Grimes said. “My job is to add to what has already been established, and I’m proud that we’re doing that, including with our mobile [COVID-19] testing sites. For many reasons, not everyone can come in to be tested and we are currently [as of the end of May] conducting 200-300 tests a day.”
Before accepting the position, Grimes enjoyed a 33-year career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, where she began as nurse and went on to hold multiple executive roles, including director of joint commission/quality resources, vice president of quality/regulatory affairs, chief compliance officer, and most recently, UAB’s first chief diversity officer since 2017. Earlier this year, she was named as one of the 2019 Most Influential Women in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine.
“Our office is small, but our mission is huge,” said Grimes. “The goal is to influence others to also join in this work. No matter how you identify them, health disparities are very costly to manage.”