DEI Steering Committee Member Spotlight: Rachel Woods, DO
Dr. Rachel Woods has been a pediatrician at Columbus Pediatrics since 2015. In her role she serves a patient population across a wide range of demographics. When asked why she joined our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee, she thought it would be a good opportunity to address some of the gaps/areas for improvement in terms of how diverse patient populations receive care. She stressed the importance of looking at how patients’ cultural and economic needs can be supported, because both of those needs inform their experiences with our health system.
Dr. Woods said some pediatric patients face barriers to care that need to be addressed, including transportation, family dynamics, parents who have mental health challenges and how those affect the child, as well as the child’s own mental health needs.
As a pediatrician, Dr. Woods has goals for each of her patients, which she tries to align with those of the parent(s). “We have to meet in the middle to make sure the child does well. I try to let the parent and the child take the lead as to what may be most pressing in the visit,” she said.
Through our DEI efforts, Dr. Woods hopes that families and patients will see the Columbus Regional Health system as home for their care. “Home means different things to different people, and we’ll be able to touch on that and be that place,” she said. For the workforce, she hopes they will bring their individual talents to their work and be supported for those talents. “Taking into account all the skills that they bring can help contribute to our success,” she said.
From Akron, Ohio, Dr. Woods was not familiar with Columbus before being recruited to Columbus Pediatrics by fellow St. Vincent Peyton Manning Children's Hospital resident Dr. Rachel Kerschner, who is chief of staff and a pediatric hospitalist at CRH. She is grateful for the introduction to the practice and the community. “One thing I like about my partners in the practice is when I joined Columbus Pediatrics, their wealth of wisdom was poured into me without reservation. My partners didn’t know anything about me. I really appreciate what they’ve done, because they didn’t have to. They always made it about the care of the patient,” she said.
Columbus also ended up being much better than she thought it would be. “I didn’t know what to expect. When you think of the makeup, it reads as less diverse on paper. I think the diversity is, not just in race or ethnicity, but more in ideas, which allow people to grow,” Dr. Woods said. While Black people comprise 2.5% of the county population, Dr. Woods said that is not necessarily a reflection on the community – as she pointed out, she didn’t know about Columbus until she was introduced to it. “For everything in life, there is something to be read in between the lines,” she said. In this case, she means there is something beyond the 2.5% number that should be explored. “In between there’s a place for everyone, and each person has to find out what that is. Making it all about color or race could mean we miss out on something greater,” she said.
Outside of work, Dr. Woods enjoys traveling and learning about cultures and foreign languages. “It’s the study of languages that is really beautiful to me,” she said. “You can learn so much about a culture just by learning its language.” And it comes in handy when caring for a diverse patient population. “I thank my patients and families for allowing me into their lives – to choose to come see me or ask me a question. That gives me an opportunity to intervene and be a part of their lives, and that’s important to me,” she said.