Thirteen Southeastern Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems recently announced a collective commitment to combat racism, inequality and discrimination in all its forms. The partnership will ensure that healthcare organizations across the region are aligned in fostering a diverse, equitable environment and addressing healthcare disparities.
Over the past several weeks, protests and calls for racial justice and equality have intensified following the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and Elijah McClain. Recognizing the responsibility that hospitals have for the safety and health of their community, healthcare leaders across the country are heeding the call to eradicate racism and evaluate the role that systemic racism has had in the healthcare industry.
“Racism is a healthcare issue. We cannot address socioeconomic factors that are barriers to healthcare access—like trust in healthcare providers, income, transportation, education and housing—without acknowledging that systemic racism has caused these issues to be more prevalent in communities of color. If we are truly committed to the health of our patients and neighbors, we must work together to ensure that no one is overlooked, dismissed or underserved simply because of the color of their skin,” the group said in its letter of commitment.
As a healthcare destination for patients across the world, Philadelphia has a longstanding reputation for being on the cutting edge of medical research, innovation and education. Still, health indicators demonstrate that there is still more work to do to serve neighbors and patients right here in our city. A 2019 Health of the City report (PDF) found that health issues like childhood asthma, heart disease, hypertension, and HIV were far more prevalent in Philadelphia than in other major US cities.
By pledging their support to this commitment, participating hospitals and health systems have agreed to address these health disparities. Additionally, each participant has committed to fostering diverse, inclusive environments by hiring and promoting leaders of color, establishing relationships with community partners to address chronic health conditions, improving access to primary and specialty care, and increasing the collection of data to understand—and ultimately better meet— the health needs of our patients and community.
Please read a formal letter of commitment and list of participating organizations (PDF).