I know I can never really understand what it’s like to be an African-American in our country today. I have never been mistreated or viewed with suspicion or contempt due to the color of my skin. But I can still be outraged at the injustice and racism that continue to be a stain on our nation. And I can still be deeply saddened that in 2020 we have still not overcome the prejudice, hate and fear that allow people to treat other human beings with callous disregard not just for their feelings, but for their physical lives. I can empathize with people who have been mistreated for generations and feel their frustration that change is not happening fast enough or materially.
In our family we’ve always told our children to respect civil authorities. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to trust those same authorities. When I was growing up as a young boy in the city, I had friends of all backgrounds. Those experiences informed my commitment to diversity and inclusion as an adult, as a parent, as a leader. It hurts my heart to realize that many of our friends and colleagues worry that today they or their children could die as they live their lives in society.
This past month has shown again – if more proof were needed – that we have a deep and systemic problem in the way some of our citizens are treated. Events like those in Minneapolis, Louisville, Glynn County, Georgia, and here in Indianapolis are simply unacceptable. We must all look deeply into our hearts and souls and ask ourselves what we can do to change this endemic pattern of racism and injustice. Every American “owns” this and must be part of the change that our society needs.
I also have always believed that you must stand up for what you believe in and when you see injustice, speak up. And that idea of standing up for change must come through nonviolent means. Looting, vandalism, and the destruction of property do nothing to advance the goals of justice and equality. As Dr. King remarked so eloquently more than 60 years ago, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”
Our value of team says we count on and care for each other. At this time, I know that many of us are hurt, upset, angry, and even in despair about what has happened. Let’s extend the power of love to each other and let’s stand together. That we all say “no” to hate and injustice and cruelty wherever it manifests itself. That we are committed, as individuals and as an organization, to treating every person with the dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. The place for all of us to start making a difference is here at IU Health.
We in healthcare have our own issues of injustice and inequity to address, as we know that African-Americans and other minorities have long had issues accessing appropriate care, have higher rates of common chronic illnesses, and, more recently, have suffered disproportionate rates of infection and death from COVID-19. At IU Health, we are continuing to provide excellent and compassionate care to all the patients we care for, but we also know there’s more we can do to address health disparities in our communities, and we are working on doing so.
We are also committed to keeping all team members safe so they can care for our patients. We are protecting our facilities and ensuring we can maintain normal operations even in areas where protests and unrest are occurring. This is our responsibility to you and to the patients we serve across Indiana.
Let’s all work to make our world a better place.
President and Chief Executive Officer