Thrive by IU Health

January 06, 2023

“We Have to Get it Right”: Healthcare for all means haircare for all

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

“We Have to Get it Right”: Healthcare for all means haircare for all

In her childhood home in Nigeria, West Africa, Edna Omodior spent most weekends with her parents, volunteering to serve others in her community. It’s a practice she’s continued throughout her life and worked to instill in her own children. “It’s part of the way I was raised, to give back to the community you live in,” she said. “It doesn’t matter in which community you find yourself; we always want to give back.”

For Omodior, a recreational therapist on the Behavioral Health Unit at Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital, that means looking for opportunities to fill gaps and meet the needs of her patients. As an African woman, Omodior understands the unique needs of managing hair care. But on her unit, where patients aren’t permitted to bring in any personal items, she was hearing that people of color didn’t have the personal care products they needed.

“There were no grooming products for them to use,” she said. “I brought that up with the leadership, and they were taken aback to realize those things did not exist on the unit.” With the support of leadership and her team, Edna began researching the best hair products for people of color that would also be hospital-approved. She then launched a campaign to ensure every patient in her unit who needed the products would have them.

Tubs of self cleaning supplies

Through her own generosity and donations from team members, Omodior was able to provide shampoo, conditioner, hair creams and hair oils designed for ethnic hair.

But she’s not ready to stop yet. Omodior hopes that this program can spread through the entire IU Health system. Omodior says this will offer convenience even on units that allow patients to bring personal items, , but more importantly, it will send a message that IU Health is delivering on its most important promise.

“It wraps around our promise to give the best care,” Omodior said. “If we want to give the best care, we’re not just talking about medications. When we’re talking about well-being, it’s spread across different dimensions —the physical, the spiritual, the emotional, the mental. When we’re talking about the best care, we’re talking about well-being in its entirety.”

Omodior has previously donated to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, and now she’s seeking more support for her initiative, which ensures greater equity to all patients.

To learn how you can help Omodior or make a contribution to IU Health Foundation’s Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, contact Development Officer Veronica Onofrey at 317.478.7102.