At Mercy Health, we celebrate the diversity of our team members and the contributions they make to our ministry every day.
In honor of Black History Month, we sat down for a Q&A with Ken James, our Cincinnati chief operating officer, about the importance of this month, family traditions as well as his own journey in health care.
Q: What traditions do you have in your family for Black History Month?
Ken: We make it a point to educate our children and grandchildren on Black history that is not traditionally taught or shared in public or private educational systems. We visit private family cemeteries to educate on our own family legacy, too. I take the most pride in our family reunions and the unity that results from us coming together.
Q: What personal stories does your family have about Black history?
Ken: We are intentional about taking our children and grandchildren to African American museums and freedom centers so they can understand the many challenges and contributions provided by Black Americans, such as inventions, music, food and culture. Personally, my grandfather shared witnessing the first black person to hold a specific job or position and stressed the importance of obtaining an education.
Q: Why is Black History Month important to our country?
Ken: There have been many contributions to American society by Black Americans that have significantly impacted our history and continues to positively influence our future. More specifically, I want to be sure the associated topics remain relevant and that the discussions and education continue.
Q: What do you take the most pride and joy in during Black History Month?
Ken: That America pauses to better understand and acknowledge the importance of so many positive contributions by Black Americans.
Q: As for your career in health care, what led you to work with us at Mercy Health?
Ken: The ministry’s mission, vision and values are aligned with my own personal beliefs. When I was looking for new opportunities, I was intentional about finding an organization that was faith-based and truly mission-focused.
Q: How does diversity strengthen the way we deliver health care?
Ken: It is a proven fact that our teams, units and organizations are more productive when they embrace and implement diversity, equity and inclusion practices. In my opinion, that synergy and harmonious productivity operating within our mission and values will lead to a more optimized delivery of health care.
Q: Who inspired you to go into the medical field?
Ken: It was my father. He was career military and he instilled in me discipline, integrity and the need to serve others. While in high school, I became a Red Cross volunteer and during my time there I was introduced to a pharmacist and a radiologist. That exposure led me to serve in health care. My very first job in health care was a radiologic technologist.
Q: How does your family feel about the work you do in health care?
Ken: My family is very supportive. They feel it’s noble for me to serve and be part of something greater than myself, as I contribute to providing better life opportunities for others.
Q: How does the work you do inspire others?
Ken: Most of us are in health care because of a calling … my work to lead, educate and promote others provides an avenue for them to seek other opportunities for personal development and prepares them to better serve others, while supporting that calling.
Read more Black History Month stories about our team members.
Also, learn about the health care services we provide at Mercy Health.