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Posted on Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

University of Michigan Health System creates new administrator role to address equality issues in health care

By Amy Biolchini

To address gender and racial equality issues in the health care it provides and in its workforce, the University of Michigan Health System has created a new administrator role.

The first Associate Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusion is Dr. Carmen Green, a researcher, pain medicine physician and anesthesiologist at the University of Michigan.


Dr. Carmen Green

Courtesy of UMHS

Green was appointed to the new post Thursday by the U-M Board of Regents after a national search.

Green will report to both Dr. James Woolliscroft, dean of U-M’s Medical School, and Doug Strong, CEO of U-M’s Hospitals and Health Centers.

After an associate dean position in U-M's Medical School was left open when a faculty member left for U-M Flint, UMHS leadership decided to reorganize the spot to become the Associate Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusion, said Pete Barkey, director of public relations for UMHS.

“In any financial times, good or bad, we’ll make strategic decisions in what we invest in at the health system,” Barkey said. “One part of it is recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty.”

In her research at U-M, Green has found unequal treatment of pain and pain care based on factors including race, ethnicity and gender, according to UMHS officials. She’s found disparities and barriers in access to pain medication for blacks, women and low-income individuals with chronic pain.

Green has also worked on advisory boards for programs that promote inclusion of minorities and women in biomedical science -- an effort that Green will continue in her new role.

In addition to holding numerous fellowships and leadership roles nationally, Green is the director of the Healthier Black Elders Center for the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

Green will continue to practice part time. In her new role, she’ll first gather and analyze data about the patient population served by UMHS and its workforce.

Bringing a “cultural humility” to work at UMHS is important, Green said in a statement.

“Since our founding in 1817, Michigan as an institution has been committed to excellence, quality, and inclusion regardless of race, gender, religion, or class, so diversity is in our DNA. And we have many outstanding clinicians, educators, and researchers focusing on health disparities in a broad range of fields,” Green said in a statement.

“But where there is evidence about what we can do to improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals or foster careers, we will implement it. And where there is no evidence, we will work to create it, using sound evidence and research. As an integrated and learning health system and university that values interdisciplinary work we want to put Michigan on the map when it comes to health equity.”

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

This entire notion is insane. What a waste of funds. Clearly not what is needed since tuition keeps raising and the economy is on a downward spiral.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

With the health system undergoing serious financial challenges, "fostering new and unnecessary careers" makes little sense.They did the same thing at BANKRUPT General Motors after Obama took it over (put in a bunch of unnecessary but well paid new vice presidents for this diversity mumbo jumbo). It's the NEW VERSION of jobs for the "old boys club" and we all have to pay for it.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Well, I could be wrong, but I believe, uh, diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

You could be wrong, and you are. Unless you're living in the fantasy land known as Ron Burgundy's mind. And even then you'd be wrong.

Scott Reed

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

Why is the solution always to hire more and more adminstrators? It seems that the university system is already hugely bloated with highly-paid administrators with nebulous roles. The university should massively lay off adminstrators, reduce tuition, and invest more in research and hiring great faculty.

Angry Moderate

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Shouldn't we appoint an Associate Managing Director of Diversity in the Office of Associate Vice Presidents for Health Equity and Inclusion to ensure that the new office is inclusive?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Seems like another layer of administration that must be funded instead of paying for actual providers. Probably an important issue. However you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink i.e you can define healthy habits and life style getting people to follow it is a different matter. Maybe 10-15 % of heath care problems are amenable to medical treatment. The rest boil down to life style and choices.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Nice, very important and sounds every much so politically correct. Guess tuition will have to increase again this year to pay for all the U's social engineering attempts.

Tim Hornton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

I tried saying something similiar and got my comment deleted. Good job survivor greg.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

How fortunate the UM conducted one of their 'nationwide searches" and found someone to appoint for this position right in their own backyard.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

According to the wisdom of the conservatives who dominate this site, racial and gender discrimination ended sometime in the 1960s. So there's no need to create this position!

Jay Thomas

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Peregrine... it's a make work job.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

@Jay Thomas: Surviving is a rather low bar (and besides you have not established that inequalities did not affect survival). Readmissions, quality of life, total health care cost, healthcare mistakes, etc. should all be part of the equation.

Atlas Shrugged

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Conservatives dominate this site??? How can that be possible, at least considering the city of Ann Arbor, that staunch bastion (or is it arm pit) of liberalism? Golly, drive around the city streets in just about any of the neighborhoods before an election and I'll bet the number of yard signs supporting liberals and democrats outweighs those supporting folks on the right by probably 10:1. Look at the composition of various city committees. Nearly all left-leaning, and some hard left. So how can it be that the right dominates here?

Jay Thomas

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

I agree completely. How DID we survive without it....


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

She's found disparities and barriers in access to pain medication for blacks, women and low-income individuals with chronic pain. Please explain, how they go without, less or modified medication when it comes to not being treated equally when it comes to pain? Does it mean that if you have no insurance, no money, no job, no desire to get insured, no desire to be employed you can get equal or better treatment than those that do work and have insurance. Since when do they start limiting pain medications if you are not white? Just curious. Using sound evidence we will create it, really.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I think Googling (especially on Google Scholar) your question regarding the disparities in treatment of the groups mentioned in the article vs. other groups would provide at least several references for you to read. This is an article about the position, not about her research into these disparities. You can find the answers for yourself.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

"And where there is no evidence, we will work to create it, using sound evidence and research" Not sure if that is the appropriate scientific method, it sounds more like an agenda to me.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I think the criticisms are unwarranted. There is an agenda, which is clearly stated to be: "improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals or foster careers." Collecting relevant data is often the key to improvement, and data is evidence. Much of this has been pioneered by Intermountain Healthcare, where they obsessively collect data and then use it to create policy and standards of medical care. It's fascinating reading:


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2 p.m.

@taxpayingcitizen, I believe you have it right. To expand on your answer, a fair reading of the passage in question would be (text in brackets inserted by me): "But where there is evidence about what we can do to improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals or foster careers, we will implement it. And where there is no evidence [about what we can do to improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals or foster careers], we will work to create it, using sound evidence and research."


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

nvragain and Atlas, I think you may be missing the aim of the quotation -- though I admit it is a bit confusing if you are not familiar with medical jargon. I think their goal is: where questions exist surrounding the issues mentioned in the article, Dr. Green and her team will work to answer them in an evidence-based manner.

Atlas Shrugged

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

An important quote, nvragain. Although it may not apply to the case it hand, it indeed sounds like an agenda; in essence, if there's no problem, based on current evidence, we'll work to create a problem.