Directly addressing the issue of racial equity in our facilities
December 24, 2020
Like many others, I have watched the video of Dr. Susan Moore that she posted from her bed at our hospital. I am deeply saddened by her death and the loss her family is feeling. Our hearts are with Dr. Moore’s family and friends.
I am even more saddened by the experience she described in the video. It hurt me personally to see a patient reach out via social media because they felt their care was inadequate and their personal needs were not being heard. I also saw several human perspectives in the story she told – that of physicians who were trying to manage the care of a complex patient in the midst of a pandemic crisis where the medical evidence on specific treatments continues to be debated in medical journals and in the lay press. And the perspective of a nursing team trying to manage a set of critically ill patients in need of care who may have been intimidated by a knowledgeable patient who was using social media to voice her concerns and critique the care they were delivering. All of these perspectives comprise a complex picture. At the end of the day, I am left with the image of a distressed patient who was a member of our own profession—one we all hold dear and that exists to help serve and better the lives of others. These factors make this loss doubly distressing.
After our preliminary medical quality review, I am fully confident in our medical team and their expertise to treat complex medical cases. I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care. I am concerned, however, that we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients. I am worried that our care team did not have the time due to the burden of this pandemic to hear and understand patient concerns and questions.
There is still much that we need to learn through internal review. Additionally, I am asking for an external review of this case. We will have a diverse panel of healthcare and diversity experts conduct a thorough medical review of Dr. Moore’s concerns to address any potential treatment bias. The construct of this review is to understand how we improve on not only the technical aspects of care, but also the more humanistic elements of the patient experience. The external review also can illuminate ways that we as a system can ensure we live up to our commitment to the equitable treatment of all patients.
Over the last several years, I have pledged to promote racial justice and resist discrimination of any kind at IU Health. My commitment to this pledge is reinforced as I repeatedly think about Dr. Moore’s voice. I also have listened to the voices and experiences of our team members and patients of color over the past year. They have shared experiences of discrimination by patients, families and colleagues. They also shared their hopes for how IU Health could model for others how to be a more diverse, inclusive and just organization. Dr. Moore’s public sharing of her experience is a sentinel moment to accelerate our forward movement. This tragedy will not become a statistic in the COVID-19 crisis and it will serve as a marker of material improvements for patients of color.
Our organization is committed to equity. We know the work before us and will continue to seek regular improvements to what has been a long-standing societal issue. We will focus on enhancing a culture of inclusion that seeks, welcomes and values all people. We will transform our organization to be more diverse, equitable and anti-discriminatory. And we will build meaningful and sustained partnerships to promote healthcare equity and reduce healthcare disparities, impact social determinants of health, and build more inclusive communities throughout the state.
None of this work was ever imagined to be easy or without visible signs of failure. The key is to learn meaningfully from each interaction and, ultimately, get better every step of the way. Dr. Moore’s words and image will stay with me every day and fuel my motivation to ensure that this organization becomes truly equitable in all dimensions. I hope it serves as a collective call to action.
Dennis M. Murphy
President and Chief Executive Officer
Indiana University Health
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