Celebrating Black History Month at LHSC

A collage of four portraits of Black members of Team LHSC: Hilreth Jackson, Destiny Jackson, Dr. Jedrin Ngungu and Naomi Esume

February 1, 2024

Each February, Black History Month is recognized to honour the vast and storied history of Black Canadians and celebrate the many notable contributions they have made to enrich our society with their knowledge, culture and traditions.  

At LHSC, we are embracing this time to celebrate the exceptional achievements of Black Team LHSC colleagues. The health-care system is constantly improving, thanks to the work of Black physicians, researchers, staff members, volunteers and learners who work tirelessly to improve patient care experiences and health outcomes each day.

Throughout the month, we are featuring members of Team LHSC as we highlight their contributions to the health-care system.

“I am so grateful to the members of Team LHSC who are willing to share their personal journeys and reflections,” says Cathy Wood, Senior Director of Black Health at LHSC. “I hope this video series serves as an inspiration to others and provides an opportunity to educate people on the challenges, contributions, and triumphs of Black individuals in the health-care sector. By sharing these personal stories, LHSC is taking an active approach to dispel stereotypes, challenge biases, and create greater understanding among our colleagues and community.”

Hilreth Jackson 

Hilreth Jackson is a Registered Nurse who has been with LHSC for more than 30 years.  During that time, she has worked on the front line in the Intensive Care Unit and Nuclear Medicine cardiac sector.  

One of the many things that Hilreth enjoys about nursing is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the patients she serves. Among the photos of her grandchildren that are proudly displayed in her office, one will find drawings and thank-you cards sent from the numerous patients who have experienced her kind spirit and loving care.

Unfortunately, Hilreth has also had to endure discrimination, racism and bias throughout her career, and continues to experience these hardships today. However, she is determined to persevere and rise above hate with the values that have been instilled in her through family and culture. 

Dr. Jedrin Ngungu

As a young boy growing up in Zambia, Dr. Jedrin Ngungu became interested in pursuing a career in health care after witnessing the positive impact that health providers had on family members who were receiving care.

Now, as the Medical Director of Psychiatry for the Psychiatry Liaison Consultation Service, Centralized Emergency Psychiatry Service, and Inpatient Psychiatry units at LHSC, Dr. Ngungu’s passion for helping others shines through when he speaks about the significance of community. He draws a distinct connection between the importance of community in Zambian culture and the impact that a strong support network can have in helping patients heal.  

Since joining Team LHSC in 2017, Dr. Ngungu has had a significant impact on LHSC operations. He led the initiative to launch a crisis and short-term inpatient mental health treatment unit and helped develop a framework for how his team works in collaboration with the Emergency Department. These important contributions to the organization have helped improve efficiency, care experiences, and health outcomes for the patients he serves. 

Destiny Gardiner

When Destiny Gardiner joined Team LHSC in September 2023, she knew she was coming to an organization that cares deeply about its employees and enables her to make a difference in peoples’ lives. As a Recruitment and Compensation Specialist in LHSC’s Human Resources department, she enjoys connecting with new people and helping them launch their careers.

As a former newcomer to Canada, Destiny was proud to be a member of the team representing LHSC at the 2023 London Newcomer Day and cherished the opportunity to share her experiences with others. She was also asked to participate in LHSC’s service awards and enjoyed hearing first-hand accounts of the impact that staff have had on patients and colleagues throughout their years of service.

Working in LHSC’s Human Resource department comes with its own rewards, according to Destiny. She finds her work intriguing, as it requires a combined focus on people and business, and is thrilled to work with a supportive team of caring individuals. Although Destiny has been with LHSC for a short time, she already has many accomplishments to celebrate. 

Naomi Esume

Naomi Esume explored many career options before deciding to become a nurse. After completing high school in Nigeria at the age of 14, she came to understand her personal strengths included working with people, listening to their needs, and caring for them.

It was clear that Naomi was destined for a career in health care, but she was unsure of which path to follow. When she met with a career advisor, Naomi was encouraged to take post-secondary courses that enabled her to explore career options and narrow down the choices.

Now, as a Registered Nurse on LHSC's Nursing Resource Team, Naomi enjoys the unique challenges that each day brings. Her previous work as a Black Health Navigator has had a significant impact on the patients and families in her care and has helped the organization advance safer and more inclusive spaces for Black individuals. 

Gratitude and Growth: Celebrating Black Excellence at LHSC 

LHSC is grateful to Hilreth, Dr. Ngungu, Destiny, and Naomi for their work in supporting quality care experiences and improving patient health outcomes for the many communities we serve. We sincerely thank them for the courage and strength they have demonstrated in sharing their personal reflections and career journeys with us during Black History Month.  

Their stories represent a small portion of the many unique experiences and accomplishments of Black physicians, researchers, staff members, volunteers and learners at LHSC. There is much to celebrate, but there is also a lot of work ahead.

Within the health-care system, Black individuals continue to face many inequities and encounter systemic, attitudinal and racial barriers when receiving care and building careers. Black History Month is a time to reflect on this truth and reaffirm our commitment to dismantle systems of oppression, discrimination, racism, and bias so that future generations of Black Canadians will not be faced with the same inequities and disparities their ancestors have had to endure.

Through LHSC’s Office of Inclusion and Social Accountability, the Black Health team is engaging with community organizations, patients, staff, physicians, and members of the diverse Black communities we serve. These valuable relationships will help us learn more about the experiences of Black individuals at LHSC, and ensure that health-care system transformation is collaborative and responsive to their needs.