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Inequality in America: A Public Health Crisis


Health doesn't just happen in the hospital or clinic or doctor's office. In fact, the overwhelming evidence shows us the vast majority of health happens elsewhere - in our homes and our communities. We unequivocally believe everyone living in this country has a right to expect health and well-being no matter race, ethnicity, religion, age, socioeconomic status, gender identity or sexual orientation. It isn't political. It's just a simple human fact ... everyone has the right to breathe ... and in America, that should mean being able to breathe freely.

Violence and inequality are a public health crisis. The raw pain on display across this nation is a public health crisis. The fear that accompanies many of our residents as they go about their daily lives is a public health crisis. Black Lives Matter.

We know how many of you are working to level the playing field - from faith-based initiatives, federally qualified health centers and hospital-based outreach efforts to mission-based organizations like NashvilleHealth, Project Access and the Tennessee Justice Center, tech and services companies innovating access and delivery, and insurers with boots on the ground in communities of need. We know how truly blessed we are to have Meharry and Vanderbilt training new generations of providers to deliver culturally competent care. But we also know it will take more to create the sea change that is needed.

For our part, we pledge to share your stories and partner with you however we can to make Middle Tennessee a place where all our citizens can breathe.

AMA Urges Lawmakers to Act on Policing Reform to Protect Public Health

CHICAGO - As the nation reels in the wake of recent highly publicized deaths of Black Americans during police encounters, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a letter to House and Senate leaders urging necessary policing reforms to address the excessive use of law enforcement violence against individuals in minoritized communities. READ MORE

AMA on U.S. Supreme Court's DACA ruling

"The American Medical Association applauds today's U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that the Trump Administration's attempted rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was inadequate and invalid. READ MORE

AMA Board of Trustees pledges action against racism and police brutality

CHICAGO - At a virtual Special Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, the AMA Board of Trustees today pledged action to confront systemic racism and police brutality, and released the following statement that was approved at its meeting on Friday: READ MORE

AACR Stands Against Racial Discrimination and Inequality

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is outraged and saddened about the pervasive racism and social injustices toward African Americans in our country and all people of color around the world. READ MORE

Nashville To Participate In Black Male Media Project, Public Discussion To Take Place June 6

June 4, 2020 - Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC) and the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) have announced further details surrounding the local installment of the Black Male Media Project, a national initiative designed to accurately reflect the contributions of black males in the media. The event will be hosted this Saturday, June 6, starting at 10:00 AM via Zoom and Facebook Live. READ MORE

Statement on George Floyd's Death and Unrest in America

Rick Pollack, President and CEO, American Hospital Association

June 1, 2020 - The senseless killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis and the protests that are occurring in cities across the country have shaken our nation to its core. This most recent tragedy has rightly raised issues of racism and unequal treatment by law enforcement, and it has ignited justified frustration and anger that are spilling out to streets across America. Clearly, the police officers responsible for committing this crime, as well as the institutions that permit these repeated tragedies to continue to occur must be held accountable. These ongoing protests give voice to deep-seated frustration and hurt and the very real need for systemic change. The killings of George Floyd last week, and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor earlier this year, among others, are tragic reminders to all Americans of the inequities in our nation.

Raising our voices to speak out against injustice and stand up for our neighbors and communities is an essential part of our democracy. There are peaceful protesters who are trying to bring attention to long-simmering frustration and anger. And there are others whose actions are not reflective of what the protests are truly about. As many protest leaders have shared, the destruction of businesses and attacks on the law enforcement community are not only inexcusable but also undermine the focus on inequities that we all need to address.

As places of healing, hospitals have an important role to play in the wellbeing of their communities. As we've seen in the pandemic, communities of color have been disproportionately affected, both in infection rates and economic impact. The AHA's vision is of a society of healthy communities, where ALL individuals reach their highest potential for health. These words guide what we do every day. To achieve that vision, we must address racial, ethnic and cultural inequities, including those in health care, that are everyday realities for far too many individuals. While progress has been made, we have so much more work to do.

As a nation, we need to take this moment, hold up the mirror and honestly look at ourselves. Then we need to engage in the hard but necessary work to make fundamental changes and address our society's inequity. We need to develop and implement real solutions that make a genuine difference.

America's hospitals and health systems condemn racism, bigotry, discrimination and violence of any kind, and we are committed to addressing health care disparities. Our country must right these wrongs so we can build a more just and equitable society where every individual has the opportunity to achieve success.


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