36 Chicago health providers pledge to fight 'public health crisis' of racism

Three dozen Chicago healthcare organizations said racism is a public health crisis and collectively pledged to work together to improve health equity citywide.  

The healthcare organizations, which include federally qualified health centers, safety-net hospitals and major academic medical centers, are part of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Racial Equity Rapid Response Team. They initially united to stem racial disparities with the city's response to COVID-19 on the city's south and west sides. They have expanded their effort since the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. Mr. Brooks and Ms. Taylor were fatally shot in police custody, and Mr. Arbery was followed by armed white men and fatally shot while jogging.

But it was Mr. Floyd's Memorial Day death, videotaped by an onlooker who captured an officer pressing his knee into Mr. Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, that ignited protests against excessive police force worldwide. 

"Racism results in generational trauma and poverty, while also unquestionably causing higher rates of illness and death in Black and brown communities," the organizers said in an open letter to the Chicago community. "We have seen — in its rawest form — how the trauma of systemic racism adds to the historical injustices that have disproportionately affected communities of color."

The group pledged to improve health equity in Chicago, focusing on vulnerable neighborhoods. They said their action would include:

  • Reexamining institutional policies and making changes that promote equity and opportunity
  • Improving access to primary and specialty care 
  • Continuing to help communities overcome chronic conditions
  • Continuing to support investments "that create innovative solutions to achieve enduring improvements in access, quality and health outcomes for our communities"
  • Continuing their pledge to hire people in the Chicago area and promote leaders of color
  • Renewing and expanding pledges to provide anti-racism and implicit bias training for healthcare workers
  • Advocating for more money for social needs, social services and programs related to social justice

Combined, the organizations care for more than 8 million residents in the Chicago area. Their full open letter to the community, and their names, are available here.



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