A mighty effort: Afternoon focuses on transforming health care for individuals with disabilities

October 12, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

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Last week, members of the Michigan Medicine community came together to focus on transforming health care for individuals with disabilities.

The half-day event – called M.I.G.H.T., or Michigan Inclusion and Growth in Health Care Transformation – included educational talks and calls to action by members of the Michigan Medicine community.

“We wanted to create an event geared toward making Michigan Medicine and the world around us more equitable and inclusive for everyone,” said Clarissa Love, co-lead of the Michigan Medicine Disability Council, which sponsored the free event.

Love was one of several staff members to speak at the event in Danto Auditorium. Her message was simple: Having a disability doesn’t need to be limiting, instead it can be transformative and help you enhance the world around you.

“Those of us with disabilities should see our disability as a superpower,” said Love, who has Spina bifida, a birth defect that often makes it challenging for her to walk. “I truly feel that my disability gives me an opportunity to be more empathetic toward others, and I can use that experience to rub off on other people and create a more compassionate community as a whole.”

A ripple effect

The keynote address of the afternoon was given by Karin Muraszko, M.D., chair of neurosurgery at Michigan Medicine.

Muraszko also has Spina bifida and recently began using a wheelchair full-time.

She recounted her experience of breaking down barriers as she grew up and went through her medical school, residency and fellowship programs.

“My mom always pushed me to think about what I could do, not what I couldn’t do,” Muraszko said. “That’s how I knew I could become a doctor, how I could help people.”

Muraszko also pointed to a colleague who worked with her during residency to create a platform that allowed her to support herself as she performed what were often grueling surgeries.

“One person, thinking outside the box and asking the right questions, led me into a career where I’ve been able to impact thousands of lives,” Muraszko said. “Think about that in your own work life here at Michigan Medicine. How can you be that one person who helps another, which can have a ripple effect for generations to come?”

Wide-ranging discussions

With 56.7 million Americans considered to have a disability, M.I.G.H.T. focused on all types of disabilities during the afternoon.

For instance, Michael McKee, M.D., director of the Deaf Health Clinic in Dexter, discussed the importance of providing world-class care for those with hearing disabilities.

Patient and current Michigan Medicine researcher Jodi Kreschmer shared her experience as an individual with cerebral palsy, while other staff members talked about intellectual disabilities.

A blitz of talks near the end of the afternoon focused on the impact that social work, adaptive sports and improving the physical environment can have on all members of the community, including patients, faculty and staff.

“One of the major themes from this event is that small steps can make a huge difference,” Love said. “We don’t need to solve every issue of becoming more inclusive all at once. Find one goal in your area of the organization, solve it, and then move on to the next. That’s how we make Michigan Medicine truly equitable for everyone.”