By Tamara Thomas, Vice President, Health Equity
When I think about my compass in life, my north star has always been answering the question: How can I serve and add value to others?
I can’t take credit for that. Service has always been integral to my core values because I was raised that way. My great-grandfather “Mr. Jim” or “Daddy Jim,” as I refer to him, built a legacy on the principles of kindness, community and family. Through his open heart and generosity, he earned the respect of his community and non-Black peers despite living in an era of segregation. And his legacy of community service is still alive in Plano today.
My dream of making a difference originally led me to medical school, where I represented my class with pride and expectation. But life pivoted when my beautiful daughter was born, and my family and I decided to move to Texas. I did not finish my degree; however, I did not abandon my dream of working in health care. Instead, I became a critical care nurse still focused on service and improving the health care system.
Joining Aledade – a public benefit corporation committed to service – was a natural progression of the values that my family instilled in me. In addition to aligning with my career aspirations, this role and the team of Aledaders supporting equity and inclusion will open greater opportunities to create meaningful impact for all people and to revolutionize health care in the United States.
I know firsthand the often fraught relationship between the medical community and marginalized peoples. This breakdown directly impacts morbidity and mortality rates in communities of color – and I have personally witnessed untreated and preventable chronic illnesses in my own family that have led to amputation and even death. Appropriate access to high-quality health care was the missing ingredient. As a nurse and a woman of color, I vowed to change this.
When I learned how Aledade was supporting doctors to ensure quality care for all patients, I knew that I found a company that aligned with my personal commitment to improve the wellbeing of people in the communities we serve. Aledade prioritizes both the humanistic and scientific elements of medicine to ensure that practices are empowered to deliver exceptional care.
Prior to joining Aledade, I worked at a start-up health care company that provides holistic, patient-centered care for patients living with kidney disease. Many of the patients were from under-represented and marginalized communities. This experience showed me that the medical community has much to gain from building stronger, more effective relationships between patients, communities and primary care physicians. Lives can be saved and suffering can be prevented by applying high-quality, high-value, relational, integrated care.
I am excited to be a part of this amazing, passionate team dedicated to pursuing our mission, and I am confident that we can measure, monitor and continuously improve health equity to ultimately provide exceptional care for everyone. After all, health equity is not something we do separate from our mission – it is how we achieve our goals and it is what we advocate for in everything we do. Powered and informed by data and evidence, our team will implement an actionable plan to eliminate health disparities and create sustainable, meaningful change – and we refuse to silo this work to one part of the company. We will ensure that all of our company’s objectives and key results are seen through the lens of health equity.
As a Black woman in health care, I am honored to advance the mission of Aledade, where we have the opportunity to impact millions of lives and completely transform communities. My father – a former professional athlete and coach – says to this day, “Remember why you’re in the game, what you are in the game to do and who you’re doing it for. When you do that, you can’t help but to give it your all … and that’s when we all win at the end of the day.” In this spirit, I am ready to lead and serve on the Aledade team and – play by play – win for all of the individuals and communities we serve.