Statement from Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Virginia Mason Chairman and CEO

Kaplan_Gary_2016.jpgJust like America, Virginia Mason is made up of people from around the world. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and our diversity reflects the patients we serve.

On behalf of our organization, I want to assure you that we will continue to value and support team members and patients who are immigrants from around the globe, including citizens from countries who are currently banned from coming to the United States. At Virginia Mason, we have a strong commitment to promoting diversity, and this includes protecting our people. 

In a show of support for refugees who have come to our country, Virginia Mason is making a contribution to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nonprofit that assists refugees in Seattle and provides a host of services, including health care, to those in need.

I’d like to share a few thoughts from my own individual perspective. During times of crisis, I believe people must stand up for what they believe, because silence can be easily interpreted as support of the status quo or misinterpreted as support for ideas that run counter to our values.

We are fortunate to live in a country predicated on very strong values. We were founded by immigrants, and most Americans have an immigration story in their family. This country was founded with the belief that there should be “liberty and justice for all.” For most of our 240 years, we have welcomed people to our country with open arms. I believe that turning many away now, in an arbitrary fashion, goes against what America stands for. 

I realize that immigration laws, like health care reform, can be a polarizing issue and many people have strong feelings about what’s best for our country. In times when people don’t see eye-to-eye, it’s important to remain respectful to each other. I look forward to ongoing discussion about how we can honor our nation’s history of welcoming immigrants while still keeping our country safe.