39 health systems declare racism a public health crisis, vow to fight it

Thirty-nine health systems across the U.S. declared racism a public health crisis and committed to address healthcare disparities across the nation. 

The health systems are part of the Healthcare Anchor Network, which was formed in 2016 to collectively work to improve community health. The Healthcare Anchor Network announced the declaration and pledge Sept. 27.

The 39 health systems have pledged to take several steps to address healthcare disparities and structural racism in their organizations. Some of the steps include providing access to COVID-19 testing in underserved communities, making hiring efforts inclusive and increasing spending with diverse-owned vendors and suppliers.

"Systemic racism results in generational trauma and poverty, while also unquestionably causing higher rates of illness and death in Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color. 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 statement from the health systems reads. 

The pledge and statement was modeled after a June statement signed by 36 Chicago-area health systems. 

The organizations also committed to take several other steps, including:

  • Re-examine institutional policies with an equity lens 
  • Boost access to primary and specialty care
  • Renew and expand unconscious bias training and anti-racism work 
  • Continue to focus on improving care of patients with chronic conditions
  • Advocate for investments and innovations to boost acces, quality and health for underserved communities
  • Hire locally, promote and retain leaders of color

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