To the Editor:
We are a group of primary care providers at MDI Hospital, and we want to address the pain and anger that we see in our community and our country.
One effect of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has shone a light on inequality across our nation. Inequality has always been present, but now we are seeing it more clearly.
As health care providers, we read, with dismay, statistics that show us that black Americans have more than double the chance of dying of coronavirus than white Americans; and black women in America are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. The tragic murder of George Floyd once again calls our attention to the fact that African American men are significantly more likely to die from police violence than their white counterparts. (Citations available on request.) We are troubled by the deep racial divide in health care outcomes and safety in our country.
As providers of primary health care, we are very aware that this is not a problem of “good” cops and “bad” cops or “good” doctors and “bad” doctors. We believe that people are doing the best they can with the resources they have, and that in order to change things we need to address the inequality inherent in our society.
The racial divide in our country is rooted in deep, systemic racism that has become an inherent part of all of our institutions. It is built into institutional policies and it is built into our language and the stories we tell about our history. Only by being willing to see and acknowledge this ingrained racism in our community and our country can we begin to heal and become a country where, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, all Americans can live “in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
As physicians, family nurse practitioners and physician assistants, we support all peaceful efforts to fight racism, inequality and injustice and to dismantle racist institutions in our country.
Casey Hanson, M.D.
This letter also was signed by seven other physicians, two family nurse practitioners and a physician’s assistant.