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Office of IDEaS

Breaking Down Barriers in Health Care

We're prepared to serve the unique health needs of every community.

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Roe v Wade
A Message from Our Office

The Office of IDEaS has a core mission to address and reduce health equity barriers, particularly in our underrepresented and vulnerable communities and patients.  As a diverse team that includes emergency medicine healthcare providers, we are committed to health equity.  The Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) has made the monumental decision to overturn the decades long-Roe v. Wade ruling.  Even before the impacts of this court ruling, compared to White women, Black and Latina women are nearly twice as likely to get late or no prenatal care, and Black women are 1.5 times more likely to experience preterm birth. Regardless of the political, religious, and personal divides in our country, the Office stands firm in our commitment to health equity, bodily autonomy, and reproductive rights, including access to safe and legal abortion.

The health and safety of our patients and community declines when access to abortion is restricted, and these impacts will disproportionately harm those who already face barriers to equitable care, including communities of color, immigrants, people in poverty, and those already marginalized. The state-level restrictions that are already ensuing across the nation are antithetical to the scientific evidence-base. Research demonstrates an inverse relationship between abortion restrictions and health outcomes for both women and children with states with more restrictions having higher infant and maternal mortality.

These impacts will be seen in our Emergency Departments. Restricting access to abortion does not decrease abortion rates, it only decreases safe abortions. It is estimated that 30 patients die for every 100,000 unsafe abortions in wealthy countries and that the abortion ban could increase pregnancy-related deaths by 21% overall and 33% in Black people. The US already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates amongst wealthy countries, with Black women three times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth. Even without death, the myriad of complications from unsafe abortions—including hemorrhage, infection, stigma, and psychological trauma—will require emergency care and result in unnecessary morbidity and suffering.

The importance of access to reproductive healthcare and abortion cannot be overstated. The Office of IDEaS DOES NOT support the recent SCOTUS decision removing legal protections for this fundamental human right and leaving each state with the autonomy to develop their independent legislature. We believe this decision will impact states with and without legislation that restrict access to abortions. We encourage all states to support passage of legislation that will ensure full access to high quality, safe and dignified reproductive healthcare.

Imo Aisiku, MD, MBA (he, him, his)

Brigham Distinguished Chair of Diversity and Health Equity

Department of Emergency Medicine

Vice-Chair, Office of IDEaS

Chief, Division of Emergency Critical Care Medicine

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, MA

Chairman, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine

Professor, Harvard Medical School

Lavine Family Professor of Humanitarian Studies, Harvard Chan School of Public

Health Director, The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

In The News

Advocating for equity during the pandemic

The Office of IDEaS prides itself on being champions of change, education and advocacy. Social Justice committee chair Andrew Marshall and fellows of the Health Policy Research and Translation program at BWH, in addition to lawyers, ethicists, and community advocates, created the Massachusetts Coalition For Health Equity. The goal of the coalition was to advocate for marginalized populations that would be adversely affected by the original MA Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) guidelines the Covid-19 pandemic. Read about the successes they achieved in the BMJ Leader.

Staying Centered Through Music

Da’Marcus Baymon, MD, a Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine resident at Mass General Brigham, reflects on the power of music to help him calm his anxieties and re-centered himself as he cared for critically-ill patients during the height of the COVID pandemic. View Dr. Baymon's column in the June 2021 issue of Brigham Clinical & Research News.

Black women in medicine—
rising above invisibility

This powerful piece in the Lancet was written by two of our colleagues, Dr. Onyi Eke (MGH) and Dr. Onyeka Otugo (BWH), with Jessica Isom (Codman Square).  It takes us from recent historical barriers faced by Black Women to current challenges of institutional racism and the important concept of intersectionality, and offers valuable practical insights to move beyond quotas into advancing leadership. View this article on The Lancet or download a PDF.

A True Pillar of the Community

Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, Vice-Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, has been selected for the 2020 BWPO Community Service Pillar Award. These awards recognize achievements in the five pillars of academic medicine: Mentorship, Education, Research, Community Service and Diversity & Inclusion. Dr. Aisiku mentors disadvantaged students and sponsors numerous initiatives to open the doors of medicine to a diverse community.  We’re delighted his peers and colleagues recognized how much he enriches our lives.

Everybody Needs a Great Mentor

Dr. Adaira Landry, Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, has been selected as Mass General Brigham’s 2020 Outstanding Mentor. As the Assistant Director of the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medical Residency, she makes it her mission to ensure that every resident feels welcomed and supported. This award reflects the deep esteem of her colleagues. Congratulations Dr. Landry!

Vaccinate the At-Risk First

Health Equity Committee Co-Chair Dr. Regan H. Marsh eloquently makes the case for why we should prioritize high risk communities (often people of color) for the coronavirus vaccine in a USA Today opinion piece. By focusing on essential workers, migrant laborers, Native Americans, and prisoners, we will save more lives. Read the article co-authored by Dr. Marsh.

History in the Making

Dr. Catalina Gonzalez-Marques was the first physician at Brigham to be vaccinated and appeared in a December 18, 2020 segment of the Today Show advocating for the COVID vaccine. Scroll to 1:40 to see a familiar face! We congratulate Catalina on her history making appearance!

Listen to Our First Joint Podcast!

Put Vaccine Doubts to Rest

Congratulations to our 2020 Spark Award recipients!

Health EquityReducing Bias in De-escalation of Emergency Department Patients
Diversity & InclusionIncreasing Diversity Amongst Future Physician Assistants
social justicePatient Education and Community Engagement around Cerebral Vascular Accident in Roxbury and Dorchester
social justiceHard Candy & Fruit Snacks: A Podcast
Everything Begins with IDEaS!

Inclusion Diversity Equity and Social Justice

Who we are & what we do

Health Care for Every Community

The Office of IDEaS in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital understands individual differences can be critical to delivering care that best meets our patients' needs. Diversity is not only racial, it’s multi-dimensional, encompassing race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and more. Through education, community service, and innovation we will create an collaborative, innovative, and comprehensive approach to fostering inclusion of all people.

Our mission

We're prepared to serve the unique health needs of every community.