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Be Your Authentic Self: Celebrating Diversity Series


Harbin Clinic is proud to introduce a new series to celebrate its rich diversity of experience, entitled “Be Your Authentic Self,” Celebrating Diversity. As a part of our workplace culture, we believe when we bring our authentic selves to work, we connect with others in a genuine way that boosts engagement and productivity.

When this takes place, it enhances our ability to not only care completely for one another but, most importantly, our patients and the communities we serve. To launch this series, we’re celebrating Black History Month with some of our employees’ personal stories about their heritage.

Joshua McClure, Corporate Communications & Patient Experience Manager

 My heritage as an African American man has played a significant role in the person, father, and husband I am. Furthermore, it has been my motivation forworking towards becoming the best version of myself. Watching my father be an active part of my family’s life positively influenced me. His father, for him, was the same. Being the opposite of what is stereotypical in society; his example provided me with a template for serving, caring for, loving, and providing for my family.  I am forever grateful to my parents, in-laws, uncles, aunts, mentors, grandparents, and civil rights icons like John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for laying a strong foundation that allows me to enjoy many privileges today. Their contributions to humanity make me proud and encourage me to do my part to build and expand on their work.

Starla Waddell, Practice Manager and Licensed Practical Nurse for Harbin Clinic Family Medicine Armuchee

In celebration of Black History Month, join Harbin Clinic as it honors one of its valuable employees. Starla Waddell was recently recognized as one of 

America’s Top Nurse (ATN) recipients. Each year, ATN spotlights healthcare professionals who demonstrate success and leadership in their profession by providing quality patient care. Starla has met or exceeded the criteria for the award and will represent Rome, Georgia. Starla graduated with a nursing degree from Coosa Valley Technical College in 1988 and attributes her achievement to her passion for helping others and making a difference.  “When I received the call letting me know I would represent Rome, I was very surprised”, said Starla Waddell, Practice Manager and Licensed Practical Nurse for Harbin Clinic Family Medicine Armuchee. “For those who know me best, they know I like to stay behind the scenes and serve others. To receive this award means a lot to me as I have been in the health care field for 35 years, 15 of which with Harbin Clinic. Ensuring our patients receive complete care is what drives me to do my best”.  “Before most people begin their day, you will find Starla working hard,” said Sandy Smith, Harbin Clinic Director of Operations who oversees Family Medicine Armuchee. “Her commitment to our patients and ensuring they receive the best level of care is evident to everyone she meets. Starla is truly inspiring as a nurse and leader. I am so thankful that she is a part of the Harbin team”.

Erica Rivera, Sr. Director of Strategic Decision Support

My heritage contributes to the person I am today in several ways. Having an African American mother who was raised in the 1950s gave me a strong sense of responsibility and solid work ethic. She taught me that all things are possible through hard work and dedication. Her example to walk boldly in her purpose and believe in herself laid the foundation for my personal and professional success.  She taught me the value of a first impression and that your actions’ legacy lives well beyond your presence.  I love the diversity in my heritage. My mother is African American, and my father is Puerto Rican. Starting with variety in my home taught me genuine respect and interest for differences among individuals, but more importantly this called attention to the similarities. At an early age, I learned not to focus on how we’re all different but instead to appreciate each person’s contribution to the bigger picture. This perspective has given me the ability to find common ground with individuals, no matter how different we seem.  

Dr. Lucie Mitchell, Spine & Pain Management Physician

I was born in Canada to Haitian parents. My parents always wanted me and my siblings to have more and do better than them. However, at an early age, they taught me that in order to do better, I’d have to be disciplined and determined to “go get it.” I learned to be resilient, but only after being broken down to my core and superglue each shattered element piece by piece: magic, strength, determination, resilience, indestructibility, intelligence, sensational, dedication, achievement, and success. The environment that I grew up in and my family’s social status does not define me, however, each have contributed to who I am today. I am forever evolving. My family values, along with my love and dedication to serving my community, have played infinite roles in sculpting me into the person you see today. Even though we are looked at and treated differently by society, we continue to thrive with an Eau d ‘essence Naturelle, meaning that no matter how rough things get, we persevere and roll with the tides. Throughout history, we’ve been in the middle of chaos, everything destroyed and meant to bestow destruction upon our souls. Though external forces may shake us, they do not break us. Our fluid nature has made us strong, indestructible. And that is something I love about my heritage. 

Karl Gyden, Director of Payor Contracts

My heritage has helped shape how I see and interpret the world happening around me, and how I interact with the world. The foundation of my heritage was laid by my parents, Charles Gyden, a black man born and raised in South Georgia during segregation, and Norma Lee-Gyden, a black woman born and raised in Jamaica (during the time of British rule), as well as a host of men and women who loved and cared for me and my sister as if we were their own. Their life’s experiences and lessons, even to this day, have helped me to understand 

   • The lives of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night.* • Good. Better. Best. Never let it rest. Until your Good is Better, and your Better Is Best. • God is always in control. What He has for you is for you, and no person can take it away from you unless you give it to them • No excuses acceptable. No amount of effort is adequate until proven effective.     Something that I love about my heritage is that no one in my village lacks anything. Whether it be spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, or mental, we were always willing to share what we had with one another, and made sure that those who were around us always had enough. That willingness to share and give of yourself for the betterment of others, along with a strong work ethic, resilient spirit, and a sense of accountability, passed down to me from my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends are what I love about my heritage.  * Excerpt from “The Ladder of St. Augustine” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Published February 4, 2021

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