Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We Cannot Accept Racial Injustice

Within the GBMC HealthCare System, we live by the credo justice for all. As members of the larger society, we must stand with like-minded people to demand justice for all in every facet of our society. We need to make our voices heard, peacefully, to move us closer to making this goal our reality. We must hold our elected officials accountable and work with them to create just systems.

I am appalled by the killing of George Floyd, and so many other African Americans before him, by those who do not accept our sameness. Skin color is a trait like other physical traits such as height, eye color and hair color that create our individual appearance and makes us each unique. I cannot accept injustice based on the color of someone’s skin. 

As the President and CEO of our System, I pledge to increase our efforts to serve those most in need, to welcome all to our facilities, to hire, mentor, and develop those who have been underrepresented in our workforce, and to treat everyone with respect. I will work closely with the members of our Diversity and Inclusion Council to see what more we can do to become a bigger part of the solution. I encourage you all to visit our Diversity & Inclusion Council homepage to learn more and I welcome you to get involved with the Council or to bring us your ideas by emailing diversity@gbmc.org.

Racism has been with us since the beginning of our country and it affects us all. We must work together to eliminate it because it is not right, and it is keeping us from achieving the lofty goals that were set forth at the birth of our nation. I want to thank each one of you for everything you are doing to support all the members of our community.

35 comments:

  1. Are these post available to the public? If not, will there be a public denouncing of racism and police brutality against BIPOC?

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    1. These posts are available to all who have internet access at https://ahealthydialogue.blogspot.com

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  2. I agree that the killing is an appalling thing. However, as a person I am bothered that all are only noting it is appalling that it happened to an African American. We as people should be appalled this happens to ANYONE. Injustice is felt by all and we ALL must stand together as people and accept that we all are different and embrace the fact that we need change and PEACEFULLY strive for that change. Fighting and rioting is not the answer.... We need to open our minds and hearts to accept the changes that need to be made.

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    1. I agree with you, Concerned Person. We should all be appalled if this happens to anyone and clearly, fighting and rioting is not the answer. However, I don’t see the cases of white people dying at the hands of the police. I am curious about the response if the deaths in police custody mirrored the racial makeup of the population. I must also state that this is the behavior of a few. The overwhelming majority of police men and women are outstanding people who put their lives on the line for us. We cannot sweep them up with the few who are doing these horrible things

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  3. Sir,
    I know you are a thinking man and by way of your credentials you are well educated. Having stated that, in Baltimore City there has been 39 Homicides. 95% are black victims, Their killers are black. However, I do not hear the outcry over these lives. Seems to me that the only people that care for these victims are their families.
    You want to help those that need help I suggest you help those people that have to bury their family members.
    This killing of the man Floyd is horrible. The Officer was wrong. His actions after the arrest killed a man. No one argues this. However, it seems to me that everyone wants to suddenly be a spokesman for this cause but the voiceless are ignored.
    Thank you,
    William Eyon

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    1. Thank you Mr. Eyon. I agree that there has not been public outcry over the black on black violence. I also agree that talk is cheap. We have tried to become a part of the solution to the very complex problems of our city that begin with income inequality. Here are two blogs on the issue that I have written over the last year.
      https://ahealthydialogue.blogspot.com/2019/11/gun-violence-is-public-health-issue.html
      https://ahealthydialogue.blogspot.com/2019/11/moving-proximate.htm

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  4. It is disheartening to see diatribes like this. No one with even a trace of moral character or decency thinks the death of George Floyd was in any way justified and nothing less than tragic, but for top level executives to issue statements bursting with politically correct bullet points, frankly, seems canned and disingenuous.
    Instead of listing all the "checked boxes of diversity and inclusion" with which GBMC can boast, how about praising your staff as being great people of character, spirit, and mind who proudly serve their fellow man through their God given and personally honed talents? Instead of focusing on the supposedly underrepresented, point your sights at the best candidates regardless of age, race, sex, color, creed, or sexual orientation. Good is good and should be rewarded as such.
    I find it concerning that anyone hiring, let alone a CEO, would "pledge to increase...those who have been underrepresented in our workforce". That sounds somewhat like a form of discrimination and pandering, rather than seeking and rewarding the most qualified people on a level playing field. Instead of talent and content of character, the very thing you claim to oppose becomes a parameter and qualification for hire.
    Think about what Dr. King really meant, fought, and gave his life to achieve. Does "diversity and inclusion" really fit his narrative? Inclusion is an organic and spontaneous situation stemming from unity, not diversity. If a group is diverse in physical and personal traits, it should be by happenstance, not by edict.
    Lastly, racism is as old as Man, not some curse that has "been with us since the beginning of our country". Of course it is morally wrong and completely unacceptable, but damning us all and our country for it will change nothing for the better. The term "racism" is too easily cast about and used with a broad brush. I urge you to focus on what is good about our country and your fellow human beings instead of laying a guilt trip on some in some category while exulting others in another.
    I am confident that your intentions were noble, so please consider my words. Thank you for your time.

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    1. Unity will never come without justice. I am sorry if you found my words to be “damning us all and our country”. That was clearly not my intent. My intent was to let people know that we don’t condone people being treated differently according to race. I believe that those that do are clearly in the minority. Racism may be as old as man, but that does not make it right. I do consider your words and thank you for expressing your opinion.

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  5. Please post a picture of your Board of Directors to show your racial diversity.

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    1. We will post it on our website. It is hanging in our main lobby as it has for many years. Our Board currently has 5 African American members out of 25 total.

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  6. Dr. Chessare, I have the utmost respect for you and the organization but we HAVE TO do better.

    A couple paragraphs of boiler plate corporate platitudes does not a diversity page make--what is behind those promises? What are we actually doing as an organization? Angela Wilson and the D&I Council have had some great programs and events but where is that on our main page? I'm sure half the organization does not even know we have a D&I Council. We give out annual awards for Diversity in Nursing--where are those nominees and winners on our website? We have them recognized in photo form in the main hallway but what about their stories?

    As a healthcare organization, we need to recognize the role that medicine and healthcare have played in creating and reinforcing institutionalized racism. One needs look no further than Baltimore and Henrietta Lacks' HeLa cells to see that medicine has not always been egalitarian in its practice and that is but the very tip of a very large iceberg.

    However healthcare, specifically greater access to healthcare, can also be bridges to break down barriers and increasing equity. Is it uncomfortable to acknowledge our failures as an organization and industry? Absolutely. Medicine is built on the concept of helping and not hurting but we need to realize that health outcomes are still reliant in many cases on race and work to overcome implicit biases within our workforce.

    We can and must do better.

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. We know that we have to improve the website. We have tried very hard to get the word out. What other ideas do you have?

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    2. Yes, and this is why we went back into the city at the Helping Up Mission and we are looking for other places/neighborhoods to help.

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  7. All I hear on the radio and TV are blathering such as yours that only serve yo make you look good and continue the storyline the media has concocted to inflame the public. I would prefer you to continue running your business and be quiet. I will ask when I want your views.

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    1. Anonymous, my intention was to reassure the GBMC family that we will not tolerate treating people with anything other than respect no matter what color, religion or country of origin.

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  8. As a 65 year old Black/African American woman, I applaud and appreciate your comments. I just read ". . .that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, [b]of one mind;"from the Bible-(Philippians 2:2). Thank you for being a part of the solution not just an observer.

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  9. thank you. I wholeheartedly agree. There is no place for this anywhere.

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  10. Everyone agrees what happened to George Floyd was horrible. I do not need to discuss politics with my medical facility or doctors. Please remove me from your emails.

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    1. I agree with you, unknown. I don’t think I was discussing politics.

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    2. Some like to push their own political agenda’s and if you do not agree with their point of view you are not in the click, leaving room for those who go along with their views. When you walk in the room they stop talking and whisper when you leave. This isn’t something new and it isn’t just about racism and it is insulting

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  11. It's important to eliminate racism, but it's equally important to eliminate systems that cause the rich to get richer and the poor and middle class to get poorer. As long as people fear sinking into poverty, they're going to try to get ahead at the expense of any "other" group they can discriminate against. If all the people had access to health care even when they get sick, if everyone could depend on a basic level of financial security, then everyone could afford to be magnanimous to all other people no matter their race, creed or national origin.

    The goal of eliminating disparities in race is so closely tied to the economic situation that it's impossible to deal with one without dealing with the other. GBMC can advocate the elimination of racism, but it must also advocate for the elimination of governmental policies that aim at increasing the value of the S&P 500, and index that makes the rich richer and everyone else poorer.

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    1. Thanks, Henry. I agree that the larger society must take action to narrow the gap between the haves and the have nots.

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  12. I agree with your sentiment, but some real action can be taken on this at GBMC. How well do Dr.s listen to black patients who describe pain, can you look at how easily opiods are prescribed to white folks and not black? When working with folks on lifestyle change are you examining the context with which they come to you, do they live in a food dessert, are they a caregiver to many and therefore not situated to care for themselves first. REAL programmatic things can take place on these issues. What are the programs you're creating to make a better health baseline for black folks who work for you? More, free and robust services to them to try to get them back to an equitable health status. Wellness programs for well white people are not too useful, wellness should be aimed at those with the most to gain, and we know this to be our oppressed communities.

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    1. I agree, Unknown. We have only recently begun to query the social determinants of health of our primary care patients and begun to work with community partners to address the social determinants.

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  13. Thank you for your statement Dr. Chessare. Based on many of the comments I see there will still be a long way to go for our community to truly acknowledge the lasting effects of systemic oppression. Some people may never get there and that's OK - even during the Civil Rights Movement over 80 years ago, there were those that never wanted to accept the movement of the times yet now we look back and say "how could people accept those conditions! Of course a change was needed!"

    You responded to another comment and asked "what more can GBMC do?" This is the time for introspection and to realize there is always more to be done. A few examples:

    1) How has GBMC benefitted from systemic racism? Do the employees and surrounding community know what laws and influences allowed a hospital like GBMC and a community like Towson to flourish? Did Towson benefit from redlining? Does your community (or staff) know what that even is? Perhaps a way to start is to establish a Task Force that will examine the ways in which GBMC was able to be established and make the information public so that we can truly educate ourselves on how systemic racism affects each and every one of us.

    2) Your statement mentions that you have committed yourself to increasing the hiring and training of underrepresented minorities which is wonderful. What, if any, relationship does GBMC have with the HBCUs in Maryland? By initiating and fostering such relationships you can provide opportunities in medicine, business, administration, IT, etc. There is a lack of diversity in your physician staff, your nursing staff and your administration. Yet there is overrepresentation in cleaning and sanitation services. This is not happenstance and should be examined.

    3) Finally, what are the financial contributions and donations that GBMC makes? Where else could funds be directed (or redirected) to combat racial injustice specifically in Baltimore.

    We all have work to do and I believe the coming weeks and months will truly show who is committed to doing that work and effecting real change in our country. Thank you for reading.

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. I understand your message to be that we have moved beyond the time of talk. GBMC has been in action but we can and will do more. I believe that we need to stay focused on bringing better healthcare to underserved neighborhoods. Our Board has set a leadership goal for us to hire more underrepresented minorities into management positions. This year so far, we are achieving our goal with 32% of new managers being minorities. We routinely recruit at Baltimore’s HBCU’s, most notably, Morgan State.

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  14. Nicholas Davenport, LCSWJune 8, 2020 at 11:35 AM

    Dr. Chessare, thank you for publicly acknowledging this critical issue and for committing to undertake actions to address the problem of racism. This is truly a "which side are you on" moment and I am proud to see my GBMC family standing up for racial justice.

    Many large corporations such as Amazon and JP Morgan Chase have issued prominent statements condemning police brutality, standing with Black Lives Matter, and committing to specific actions the companies will take (see the front pages of their websites). Johns Hopkins Hospital is featuring their #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives action on their front page. Could GBMC do something similar?

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    1. Thanks, Nicholas. GBMC has moved into the City of Baltimore at the Helping Up Mission to become a part of the solution. COVID-19 slowed us down a bit but we want to become a part of the solution for the poor in our city. We placed a photo of #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives on our Infoweb as well but we think we need to take action on the part of the problem that we could help with.

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  15. Dr. Chessare, I was a little disappointed to see you agree with of the commentators that "there is no outcry about black on black crime". I think in this situation a little (self)education would go a long way. Just because you and many others are not aware of the outcry does not mean there has not been one. Furthermore, did you know that according to the Bureau of Justice statistics intraracial violence occurs at essentially the same rates? I appreciate you even facilitating this conversation because it is a tough one to have; I just didn't want more misinformation perpetuated given the position you hold at the hospital and community.

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. I do not see many white people outraged about black on black violence. I do not see protesting in the white community about the Baltimore murder rate and I believe it is because very few whites are murdered. Do you have evidence of the contrary?

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  16. What criteria(s) have been used to choose the winner of the nursing diversity award?

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. This award has been established to recognize a nurse or a group of nursing staff members who enhance integration, inclusion, and advocacy at GBMC HealthCare. Examples can be based on creating a positive environment for coworkers and/or patients and their families, exemplifying mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own. There are five criteria for this award that includes: how a nominee is inclusive of other staff, that are from different cultures, to ensure they are recognized as valuable members of the team, show that they’re culturally aware of the needs of a diverse population and assist with advocacy and breaking down barriers, and must demonstrate the traits that exemplify them as a nurse that enhances integration and inclusion.

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