As members and leaders from many of Chicago’s healthcare organizations
addressing the disproportionate black and brown mortality from the COVID-19
pandemic, we say without hesitation that
Black Lives Matter.
No person of decency can look at the images of George Floyd’s killing
without feelings of rage, horror, shame, and grief. The deaths of Mr.
Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor — and too
many others — are unjust and unconscionable.
We must double down on our efforts. Systemic racism is a real threat to
the health of our patients, families, and communities. We stand with all
of those who have raised their voices to capture the attention of Chicago
and the nation with a clear call for action.
The health centers and hospitals we represent are deeply woven into the
fabric of the communities we serve, live, and work in, and we stand united
as frontline staff against racism, injustice, and inaction.
Racism results in generational trauma and poverty, while also unquestionably
causing higher rates of illness and death in black and brown communities.
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. Community health centers and Chicagoland
hospitals work to provide high quality, compassionate care in the face
of health disparities and poor outcomes resulting from social and economic
These social determinants of health include poverty, inadequate housing,
underperforming schools, police brutality, mass incarceration, food deserts,
joblessness, poor access to health care, and violence. All of these factors
contribute to health inequities in our communities. And they serve as
a recipe for pain, suffering, premature mortality — and understandable
In our communities, there is also resilience, innovation, a tradition of
faith, and a spirit of unity that manages to thrive even under the weight
of this systemic burden. Imagine the potential for our communities with
dramatically improved social and economic conditions and health outcomes.
It’s time to fully realize this potential. It’s time for action.
We will work more intentionally with community-based partners in building
and sustaining the sweeping change that is needed to ensure health equity
across the city and particularly in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.
As healthcare organizations, we are committed to being part of the solution,
both within our organizations and in partnership with local community
groups. We are focused on improving access to care and eliminating racial
biases that contribute to poor health outcomes.
We have come together as healthcare providers from all across the city
and partnered with community-based organizations to respond to COVID-19
as part of Chicago’s Racial Equity Rapid Response Team. Here are
some of the steps we already are taking to help overcome the healthcare
disparities in our communities:
We are providing testing, direct care, and contact tracing while also partnering
with the City of Chicago to provide services and personal protective equipment
to marginalized communities, educational programs, and advocacy for personal
practices that flatten the curve.
We have implemented hiring programs that build pipelines for people of
color to find careers in healthcare.
Community Investment: We are keeping dollars in our community to create jobs and help rebuild
strained and decimated economies.
Pharmacy and Grocery: As thousands of residents are left without essential pharmacies, which
have closed following vandalism and looting, healthcare providers are
partnering to bring them back as rapidly as possible. We call on pharmacies
and grocery stores to commit to reopening their shuttered stores on the
South and West Sides of Chicago to ensure access to vital medications and food.
Restoration and Rebuilding:
Members of our organizations are literally working side-by-side with other
volunteers to rebuild following demonstrations across Chicago.
Listening: Many in our organizations will never know the struggle systemic racism
has created for our colleagues at work and for members of our community.
We vow to listen to our patients and colleagues of color and to learn
from their experiences. We commit to be allies, advocates, and partners
in being the change we want to see in the world.
We also are committed to continue working to help Chicago and Illinois
overcome systemic racism and the health care disparities it creates.
We commit to:
- Re-examine our institutional policies with an equity lens and make any
policy changes that promote equity and opportunity.
- Improve access to primary and specialty care.
- Continue to focus on helping our communities overcome chronic conditions
like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
- Continue to advocate for investments that create innovative solutions to
achieve enduring improvements in access, quality, and health outcomes
for our communities.
- Continue our commitment to hiring locally and promoting leaders of color.
- Renew and expand our organizations’ commitment to providing anti-racism
and implicit bias training for our physicians, nurses, and staff.
- Advocate for increased funding for social needs, social services, and programs
that promote social justice.
Our society only truly thrives when everyone has an opportunity to succeed
and live a healthy life. We are committed to moving forward together.
By harnessing the collective strengths of our organizations, we will help
serve our communities as agents of change.