BMH adds Juneteenth to list of employee holidays

BRATTLEBORO — Juneteenth has been added to the list of ongoing paid holidays for all employees at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH).

Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Act last year, making June 19 a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Because June 19 falls on a Sunday in 2022, BMH employees will observe the holiday on Monday, June 20.

All BMH outpatient practices and services will be closed on that day.

“The decision to make Juneteenth a paid holiday is in keeping with our values and our commitment to combatting systemic racism,” Christopher Dougherty, BMH's president and CEO, said in a news release.

He cited the hospital's ongoing efforts “toward building a more just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, and to create an environment welcoming to all.”

Juneteenth recognizes June 19, 1865, the day when Major General Gordon Granger of the Union army read federal orders to a community of the last remaining African American slaves in Texas stating that all enslaved people were free. It is a day to celebrate the emancipation of all people who had been enslaved in the United States.

BMH's formal recognition of Juneteenth stems in large part from input and suggestions voiced by hospital employees. It reflects their concerns about systemic racism and their desire to take steps to address it at an organizational level.

“Making Juneteenth a paid employee holiday is not only an important change for our hospital,” added Dougherty, “but it also sets a powerful example for the entire community. Organizations need to put their values into action if society as a whole hopes to truly heal from the scars of slavery.”

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