CommonSpirit Health CEOs' memo to staff in wake of George Floyd's death, protests

Kevin Lofton and Lloyd Dean, CEOs of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, sent a memo to staff in response to protests over racial disparities and excessive police force that have occurred across the U.S. in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Memorial Day in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The memo, obtained by Becker's Hospital Review, is presented below in full. 

Dear colleagues,

We want to share our thoughts with all of you regarding the events that took place in Minneapolis last week and the turmoil that's followed. Like you, we've been deeply saddened and troubled by what we've heard and seen. 

As the leaders of an organization whose reason for existence is health, we are part of a healing ministry of 150,000 people dedicated to human life, liberty and justice. We are united in a belief in the inherent dignity of all people. This transcends race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or economic status. 

As healers, we cannot watch the killing of George Floyd and the violence that has erupted during otherwise peaceful protests in response without deep sadness. However, having seen the impacts of systemic racism in healthcare for decades, these recent events sharpen our resolve to demand justice, truth and dignity for all.

CommonSpirit has already been calling attention to and working to address the dramatically disparate impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had. A hugely disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases in the United States are among African Americans and other minorities. Many of these people work or worked in healthcare, transportation, emergency or other essential services, yet our society fails to treat them with the dignity that every American not only deserves but is entitled to under the U.S. Constitution.

Racial disparities in health status are not new to us. Solving for these problems is at the heart of what we do at CommonSpirit. We provide healthcare to all who are in need. That's our starting point.

But racial inequity is far more than a health issue, as recent events demonstrate all too well. Health problems begin with and are exacerbated by so many other factors, from housing to hunger, education to employment. Access to healthcare is a critical factor that we and other healthcare systems work so hard on, but we need an entire nation committed to addressing all of the reasons why health equity is so elusive -- just as we must commit to equal justice for all.

CommonSpirit will remain resolute and focused, and we are here to work with any and all organizations who share our beliefs and will join us on the journey towards a better America for all people.

We must believe that after this time of darkness, there will be a dawn. We both pray that the convergence of this virus that seeks out the most vulnerable, and the deplorable deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others that have led to the heartfelt protests we are seeing across the country will finally be a wake-up call. Eyes can no longer be closed. Heads cannot be turned. Attention not diverted. Blame not shifted. 

Silence is no longer acceptable. As our voices are lifted in protest, our hearts remain steadfastly committed to non-violence. We must turn away from any who seek to create more harm and honor the memories of all of those we have lost by acting in peace. Together, we can walk to a healthier future.

Lloyd H. Dean, CEO                                                                         
Kevin Lofton, CEO


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