Many healthcare organizations have pledged to end disparate care – we need to hold them accountable

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After the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest, both exacerbated by the pandemic, many health organizations have pledged to change the status quo and address the neglect of appropriate health care for communities of color. .

What I’ve discovered is that, however well-meaning, our communities need to make sure those good intentions become reality.

Last week, I attended a medical conference organized by the Diversity and Inclusion Group (GDI) which aims to assist in the professional development of medical school educators, which includes physicians. It is sponsored by an organization responsible for the regulation and management of American medical schools called the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The bottom line of such a meeting is to ameliorate the racial health disparities that exist in this country at every level. These levels include providing health care to our black and brown patients.

This includes facilitating clinics and hospitals in our communities of color that are accessible. It aspires to have CEOs, managers, and of course doctors, nurses, allied medical personnel, and the host of others who are like their community, to provide the passionate, empathetic, responsible, and reliable care we deserve. all.

The conference was energized by the multitude of diverse speakers who were there to present their thoughtful ideas and research in the areas of delivering health care to our communities. These range from establishing science, technology, engineering, and math programs at the earliest levels of education, to creating pathways for students of color to undergraduate colleges and universities, and then to colleges. medical schools.

Of course, we discussed ways to pay for education through scholarships, loans, compulsory reimbursement systems such as the public health service and the military. But above all, we discussed the systemic racism that prevents black and brown students from pursuing and achieving such a dream.

The conference identified many obstacles, too many to address in this article, but then applied the thinking, and yes, the resources to help fight the proverbial elephant in the room, systemic racism.

If you recall, the crux of this whole process is to improve the disparate health care that we see across the country, including here in the Twin Cities. Many of our healthcare systems are beginning to tackle this problem head-on. I hope to share how everyone is doing it and I will start with M Health Fairview which is the combination of University of Minnesota Medical School, Fairview Health and University of Minnesota Physicians.

To this end, they designed the HOPE Commission. The acronym HOPE stands for Healing, Opportunity, People and Equity. It is a multi-year transformational change effort to drive more equitable outcomes and inclusive environments and experiences for patients, employees and communities.

Initiated in the summer of 2020, the HOPE Commission uses an anti-racist approach. Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies, practices and attitudes.

The Commission’s leaders are Taj Mustapha, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics; Diane Tran, senior director of community engagement at M Health Fairview; and Christopher Warlick, MD, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. They recognize that healthcare institutions have an obligation to provide excellent and equitable healthcare to our patients and communities.

Yet, like other public institutions such as law enforcement, we know that our systems sometimes fail to effectively meet this obligation. It has been proven in study after study that experiencing racism has very real health effects and affects the quality of health care you receive.

Whether it’s an assumption about a person’s health or a bias in how people are treated in clinics, institutional inequity in how we view our employees and our patients may result in poorer health outcomes for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized groups.

Ultimately, the success of the Commission will depend on the active participation of M Health Fairview’s 34,000 employees – nurses, housekeeping staff, doctors, food service workers, care coordinators, administrators and others – to advance a fair culture, practices and outcomes.

This is just one example of our healthcare organizations responding to disparate, long-standing care. Remember, the goal of all of this is to improve access and quality of medical care in our communities. The least we can do is hold them accountable.

David Hamlar MD, DDS is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Minnesota. He specializes in craniofacial skull base surgery. He attended Howard University College of Dentistry (DDS) and Ohio State University (MD), and came to Minnesota for his fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Besides medicine, he is a retired National Guardsman from Minnesota reaching the rank of major general. Today, her passion is to empower students of color to achieve their dreams of entering the medical professions as well as other STEM-focused careers.

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