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Reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy

As our nation prepares to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, I can’t help but notice how much Dr. King’s dream remains relevant to the work we do at Geisinger. Dr. King dedicated his life to the peaceful service and betterment of others, just like we at Geisinger do every day for our communities.

The challenges of the past year — the global pandemic, of course, but also social unrest and the recent violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol — are reminders of how much work remains to advance Dr. King’s vision of peace and service unto others.

But as Dr. King observed, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” At Geisinger, we work to foster this spirit of embracing and including all people, regardless of the color of their skin or the beliefs they hold. By doing so, we strive to treat every patient, member and coworker with dignity and respect. And that strengthens our communities’ faith that at Geisinger, they’ll get the care they need — and deserve.

Our Geisinger family is made up of people of every race, ethnicity, faith and sexual orientation. And our values of kindness, excellence, safety, learning and innovation position us to be an example for others to follow and a beacon of light and hope for the communities we serve.

Making better health easy for everyone is our dream. And we’d like to think it aligns with Dr. King’s vision and dream. In valuing our differences and in addressing the challenges that rise from inequality in healthcare, we feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to improve the health of those we serve.

The reason many of us work in healthcare is to serve others. In honor of Dr. King and in exemplifying Geisinger’s values, we commit to building an inclusive, welcoming organization where everyone feels they belong. One where we deliver the best care to all our patients and members; provide the best learning environment for our students; select and retain the best talent; and treat each other with the respect, kindness and compassion that every person deserves.

Dr. King left behind an enduring legacy, and he taught us about much that needs to be done. Now it’s on us to do the work. We at Geisinger are up to the task, and we promise to uphold Dr. King’s message of inclusion. Our communities are counting on us. Let us all commit to drive out the darkness and hate, so only light and love remain.

Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of Geisinger.

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