JUNE 19, 2020
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
A CALL TO ACTION: RECOGNIZING RACISM AS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc. (DVCH) respectfully requests your support in advocating for legislation at the local, state, and federal level in declaring that racism is a public health crisis. To be meaningful, this declaration must be accompanied by a specific plan of action, supported by funding, to achieve its goals. This plan of action must include a transparent and coordinated response to reduce disparities in health through community-led needs assessments. This must be followed by patient-centered plans of response paired with publicly available outcome data to measure efficacy of response in order to identify best practices.
We applaud Governor Wolf’s creation of the COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparities to address how COVID19 affects minorities1. However, we insist on continued momentum in addressing all kinds of health disparities affecting minorities with the acknowledgement that racism is a root cause of this public health crisis directly affecting the health and well-being of minority populations.
In March 2020, the Kaiser Family Foundation published an Executive Summary Addressing Five Key Questions and Answers around Disparities in Health and Health Care2 and in November 2019 published Key Facts on Health and Health Care by Race and Ethnicity3 which highlight the disproportionate rates of lack of insurance, increased risk of death from HIV/AIDS, increased infant mortality rate, increased prevalence of diabetes and asthma, and increased death-rate from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in minority, most notably African
A Pew Trust article4 published this week cites “Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women. Black men are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as white men. And the average life expectancy of African Americans is four years lower than the rest of the U.S. population.” Further, “after class and poverty are accounted for, African Americans still have worse health outcomes than white Americans.”
RACISM AS A ROOT CAUSE
The Pew Trust article continues, “Public health studies have shown that the racism African Americans experience in their daily lives creates stress that affects their internal organs and overall physical health. This results in a higher prevalence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes, and a shorter lifespan.”
The American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees5 recently issued “that racism in its systemic, structural, institutional, and interpersonal forms is an urgent threat to public health, the advancement of health equity, and a barrier to excellence in the delivery of medical care.”
The American Academy of Family Physicians6 condemns all forms of racism stating, “As a health care organization, the AAFP considers racism a public health crisis. The elimination of health disparities will not be achieved without first acknowledging racism’s contribution to health and social inequalities. This includes inequitable access to quality health care services.”
The American College of Emergency Physicians7 acknowledges that “racism is a social determinant of health. The structural racism we are witnessing nationwide undermines the health of individuals, families and communities we serve.”
Delaware Valley Community Health’s providers and staff have witnessed the harrowing effects of racism on our patient population and community as a direct determinant to health outcomes. We have developed an ever-expanding care team to try to meet the pervasive legal, social, behavioral, and physical health burdens experienced by our community as a result of racism. Social determinants of health are linked to racial disparities and cannot be fully addressed until the implications of systemic and longstanding racism are fully acknowledged and corrected.
We request that our local, state and federal legislative bodies and public health agencies follow the actions of others including Allegheny County, the cities of Pittsburgh and Boston, and the states of Ohio and Michigan by rerouting funding to address racism as a public crisis with the development of an action plan including community member input and funding allocation.
A. Scott McNeal, DO
President & CEO
Senior Vice President &
Chief Financial Officer
Senior Vice President &
Chief Administrative & Compliance Officer
Julia DeJoseph, MD
Vice President &
Chief Medical Officer
Vice President &
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Information Officer
Kim Allen, MSN
Chief Quality & Innovation Officer
Chief Human Resources Officer
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