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YNHHS part of a national movement declaring racism a public health crisis

Yale New Haven Health is among 39 health systems nationwide that have signed a statement declaring racism a public health crisis.

Signing the statement from the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) illustrates YNHHS’ commitment to taking concrete action to address racism and the public health disparities it causes. HAN comprises health systems throughout the U.S. that are working to inclusively and sustainably benefit their communities’ long-term health and well-being.

“Serving our communities and the many different people who make up those communities is at the core of Yale New Haven Health’s vision, mission and values,” said YNHHS CEO Marna Borgstrom. “That means more than providing excellent health care to all who need it; it means breaking down the social, economic, educational and other barriers that negatively impact our neighbors’ health and well-being. Racism is clearly one of those barriers, and its effects have been devastating.”

Systemic racism results in generational trauma and poverty, while also causing higher rates of illness and death in Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color, according to the Healthcare Anchor Network.

To help address these health disparities, YNHHS and its delivery networks have focused on increasing access to excellent, safe, culturally sensitive care and providing education, screening and prevention programs for our most at-risk neighbors. YNHHS has also committed to using its assets, including hiring, purchasing and investment, for equitable economic impact in its most disadvantaged communities. Led by the Office of Community Health Equity, the health system is developing an anchor strategy.

YNHHS’ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is involved in these and other efforts, and provides programs to increase awareness of and engagement around race and other issues. The Office also supports the work of DEI Councils throughout the health system, whose members are helping to combat racism and other forms of discrimination by connecting employees with one another and people in the wider community.

As the COVID-19 crisis – which has disproportionately impacted people of color – along with the recent deaths of Black Americans that have sparked Black Lives Matter demonstrations show, more must be done, Borgstrom said.

YNHHS and the other health systems that signed the HAN statement have committed to implementing policy changes that promote equity and opportunity; improving primary and specialty care; helping their communities overcome chronic diseases; advocating for investments in improvements to health access, quality, and outcomes; promoting and retaining leaders of color; providing anti-racism and implicit bias training for all staff and administrators; and advocating for funding for programming for social needs, social services, and social justice.

“Our society only truly thrives when everyone has an opportunity to succeed and live a healthy life,” according to HAN’s statement. “We are committed to moving forward together. By harnessing the collective strengths of our organizations, we will help serve our communities as agents of change.”