In recent weeks, we watched in horror as we saw George Floyd’s life end while lying face down on the ground with a police officer’s knee on his neck.
The scene revealed brutality and callousness to human suffering: A shocking treatment and lack of empathy for a man pleading to breathe.
For many, it also reflected the systematic racism they feel every day. A mindset that allows some to be treated worse than others. An environment that makes black men feel like targets and parents fear for their children.
We cannot let this continue.
The declaration, “Black Lives Matter” reflects the desperation of the situation. It should not have to be said. It should be obvious. It should be felt. But somehow, it is not.
As healthcare providers, we care for everyone. We know that all lives matter and we do all we can to save them. But our black community is in crisis and that calls on us to do more.
The mission and vision of New Hanover Regional Medical Center define what we want to do and what we want to achieve.
We want to lead our community to outstanding health and have our thriving community serve as a national model of achieving excellence for all.
“Excellence for all” is easy to say, but hard to achieve. It takes a steadfast commitment to lift those whose climb is steeper and more difficult. It calls for removing the obstacles to good health that stand in the way of everyone leading a better life.
This is the principle of health equity, a leading focus of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s strategic plan because it is one of the most critical challenges before us.
Across our region, over and over, we have seen the health disparities that exist. From infants to adults, people of color have worse outcomes and lower life expectancies. COVID-19’s disproportionate impact is just one more example.
In 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr. was quoted saying, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.”
More than 50 years later, we are still fighting this inequality.
Achieving health equity is a complicated mission that takes tremendous resources to identify and act on the many causes of poor health. Data systems, more services, and outreach are important pieces, as is a greater understanding of why disparities exist.
Poor health is the result of many underlying factors. Lack of access to care, healthy food and safe places to exercise are among them. So is racism. Racism keeps all people from being treated with respect and undermines the fabric and health of our society.
We cannot and will not tolerate racism at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and we will continue to dedicate ourselves to championing our values and serving as a model for inclusivity and respect for all.
We call on everyone to join us.