How much Black excellence can AHS pack into one shift change? At Highland Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), the answer is 100%. Last week, in an entirely unplanned first at AHS, a team of Black ED residents switched shifts with a second team of all Black residents.

Left to right:Jamal Jefferson M.D., M.B.A., Jeremiah Cross M.D., M.S.,Justin Moore M.D., Evan Rusoja M.D, Ph.D., Eman Mesgina M.D., Jordan Mullings M.D., M.B.A, Naya Misa M.D., M.P.H.

The historic moment happened on July 10, 2022, at 7am. Incoming Chief Resident Jamal Jefferson, M.D., M.B.A.; Residents Jeremiah Cross, M.D. M.S, Eman Mesgina, M.D., Jordan Mullings, M.D. M.B.A.; Chief Residents Justin Moore, M.D. and Naya Misa, M.D., M.P.H.; and Attending Physician Evan Rusoja, M.D., Ph.D. gathered for the morning turnover of patients from the night team to the day team.

Dr. Rusoja paused the usual process to commemorate the significance of the moment and recognize the physicians for their hard work and determination.

“Their perseverance and leadership have played a major role in caring for our community during this time of unprecedented health and social crisis,” Dr. Rusoja said.

Alameda County is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the country. Black people make up about 11% of the population, 27% of the AHS patient population, and the East Bay is steeped in Black history and culture. Like other parts of AHS, Emergency Medicine has made a concerted effort to recruit talented providers who reflect the diversity of the community we serve. Dr. Berenice Perez, M.D. and Dr. Jocelyn Freeman Garrick, M.D., M.S. have been leading the effort for nearly two decades.

“We started the work of diversifying the EM residency in 2004 because we knew that our patients would do better if their doctors looked like them, were culturally relatable, and deeply committed to improving the community where they live,” said Doctors Perez and Garrick.

The morning turnover of patients from the night team to the day team.

Highland has been home to many distinguished chief residents and physician leaders of color over the years, but July 10 marks a watershed moment worth celebrating – and a stark contrast to the decades when physician leadership was often 100% white.

“The Department of Emergency Medicine has a long history of leadership within our field and community,” said Dr. Rusoja. “Our residents are not only some of the best physicians in the country, they’re also some of the most dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of our patients. In a community renowned for Black-led social change, it is a privilege to work with a provider group at the intersection of such rich heritage and professional excellence.”