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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer North Carolina and disproportionately affect people of color, the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) and its 130 health system and hospital members are announcing an intensified focus on creating equitable care for all North Carolinians. The association is issuing the following statement.
Racism is a public health crisis. It’s that simple. Persistent racism, one of several social injustices driving widening disparities of care disproportionately harming people of color, is an urgent threat to our public health in North Carolina. It’s time to elevate this issue to mission critical status.
The coronavirus pandemic has underscored long-term health disparities that impact communities of color and other marginalized groups. Too many North Carolina communities and their residents face inequities involving employment, education and economic opportunity that are intertwined with health outcomes. We cannot talk about improving health without acknowledging and addressing the role of racism in creating and perpetuating the inequities.
Our state must move with urgency on issues disproportionately affecting people of color and other under-served populations by expanding access to medical services through telehealth, transforming behavioral health care and addressing the social and economic drivers of health. Health systems and hospitals want to press harder, and we can’t do it alone.
Let’s act now to create a healthier future for North Carolina’s people and communities. Let’s encourage more widespread training and education to advance racial equity. Let’s increase public health funding. Increase education funding. Increase access to healthy food in poor areas. Increase economic development for impoverished communities. Expand Medicaid.
In our work to make high quality healthcare more equitable and accessible to all, the North Carolina Healthcare Association and our members are committed to addressing:
Equity in our communities through
- Racial Justice. In order to combat rising healthcare costs and improve outcomes, we must address racial disparities in our society.
- Economic Development. As an economic engine of our state, we have an obligation to ensure local communities thrive.
Equity in our clinical settings through
- Patient Experience. True health cannot be achieved unless all patients receive care that is reflective of who they are, what they believe, and how they see themselves.
- Harm Reduction. To reduce harm events in healthcare settings, we must address bias in care delivery.
We will do this in three ways:
- Education and professional development: We will deliver evidence-based anti-bias professional development for our boards, executive teams, and staff.
- Data gathering, analysis, and reporting: We will develop the data infrastructure needed to accurately identify gaps in care delivery and clinical outcomes, as well as track and hold ourselves accountable to measurable change.
- Innovation: We will identify best practices in reducing disparities, implement them in communities across North Carolina, then spread and sustain what works.
Are you with us?
Founded in 1918, North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) is the united voice of the North Carolina healthcare community. Representing more than 130 hospitals, health systems, physician groups and other healthcare organizations, NCHA works with our members to improve the health of North Carolina communities by advocating for sound public policies and collaborative partnerships and by providing insights, services, support and education to expand access to high quality, efficient, affordable and integrated health care for all North Carolinians.