Mustapha Khiyaty is grateful to be part of BWH’s diverse community, knowing that everyone here – regardless of race, religion or ethnic origin – is valued for who they are as a person and for their role at the Brigham. A supervisor in Materials Management and a Muslim, Khiyaty said it hurts knowing that many colleagues and their loved ones who have been affected by the recent executive order do not feel as secure.
On Feb. 3, Khiyaty spoke at a gathering convened by hospital senior leaders and hosted by Spiritual Care Services and the Office for Multicultural Careers in Bornstein Amphitheater. The gathering reinforced the values embedded at Brigham and Women’s Hospital: BWH welcomes patients, family members, employees and visitors from all backgrounds, ethnicities and religions, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin.
“It does my heart good and brings me joy to see so many of you here today,” said Kathleen Gallivan, PhD, director of Spiritual Care Services. “We know this is a very difficult time for our community, for our country and for the world. We want to emphasize that the Brigham’s doors are always open to everyone.”
During the gathering, BWHers listened to brief readings from several religious traditions and heard from colleagues, including Khiyaty, who offered messages of hope and unity.
“I was born in and grew up in a Muslim country,” said Khiyaty, who is originally from Morocco. “I’m glad to be Muslim and Moroccan-American, but I’m a human first. I’m so grateful that I can sit among all of you today and know that I am not alone. Thank you for all of the support for humanity.”
Nawal Nour, MD, MPH, director of the BWH Ambulatory Obstetrics Practice, founder of the African Women’s Health Center and faculty director of the Office for Multicultural Careers, shared reflections as a Sudanese-American on what it has been like to care for immigrant women who are feeling the effects of the executive order.
Nour said many of her pregnant Muslim patients have struggled with the idea of removing their headscarves and veils, also known as the hijab, when they are out in public because they feel as though they are treated differently or at risk of violence. She encouraged her colleagues to take the time to explicitly reassure patients that the Brigham’s commitment to their health and to them, as individuals, is our top priority.
“The Brigham, and in particular the African Women’s Health Center, has worked hard to achieve the current level of culturally competent care that we offer to our patients,” Nour said. “I tell people, ‘Let’s just smile. Smile at everyone you see. Smile even more when you see a woman with a hijab; she needs it. She wants and needs to feel safe and secure.’”
At the conclusion of the gathering, Ron M. Walls, MD, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Brigham Health, emphasized how important it is to support one another and welcome everyone who walks through our doors.
“This ban may affect how we are seen as a country, but it doesn’t change how we should see our country or how we should see each other,” Walls said. “Remember in your heart that we are what we are. We have believed what we believe at the Brigham since the day of our founding. We have never wavered on that, and we will never waver. Welcome everyone. Love one another. That’s the Brigham Way.”