Published on in CHOP News
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and 12 other Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems recently announced a collective commitment to combat racism, inequality and discrimination in all its forms. With the understanding that no one individual or institution can do this alone, we are committed to listening to our neighbors of color and implementing specific initiatives that will help to eradicate all forms of discrimination. At the same time, we will partner with others in the community to address the social injustice and systemic racism that contribute to disparity of care across our region.
Racism is a public health crisis
While there have been clear signs of this tragic fact for many years, the disproportionate number of people contracting and dying from COVID-19 underscores the magnitude of this crisis. Your zip code or your skin color should not be two of the most important factors in determining your life expectancy.
Following the murder of George Floyd and the senseless deaths of Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and too many others, Americans are standing up together to demand change regardless of their creed, color, race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation or ethnicity. We can no longer only dream of equality and equity. We can no longer hope and pray for change. We must listen and act with a commitment to work together to eradicate all forms of racism.
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.
With the understanding that no one individual or institution can do this alone, we have committed to listening to our neighbors of color and implementing specific initiatives that will help to eradicate all forms of discrimination in our organizations. At the same time, we will partner with others in the community to address the social injustice and systemic racism that contribute to disparity of care across our five-county region.
We know that tackling issues of discrimination in our communities, which have existed for decades, is not work that can be done overnight or in a vacuum. But we can no longer wait for someone else to solve this problem of injustice; true change requires the work of ALL of us.
Therefore, inspired by our colleagues in Chicago, we commit to:
- Re-examining policies and procedures and making changes, with an equity lens, that promote equality, opportunity and inclusion for all.
- Improving access to primary and specialty care for people in underserved communities.
- Building trust through community partnerships with the goal of addressing chronic conditions that impact communities of color.
- Advocating for investments that create innovative solutions to improve access, and provide safe, high-quality health outcomes for all communities in Pennsylvania.
- Hiring and promoting leaders of color and increasing diversity in governance.
- Renewing and expanding each organization’s commitment to providing anti-racism, and implicit/unconscious bias training for all staff, volunteers and physicians.
- Bridging relations between law enforcement and community by offering events aimed at encouraging conversations improving relations and creating trust.
- Increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other socio-demographic data.
Our collective commitment activates a social contract to elevate our shared responsibility to provide high-quality, safe human care to all in our state, specifically focused on improving the health of our communities of color.