Thrive by IU Health

June 01, 2021

Working for 30 Years to Correct Racial Inequities

Working for 30 Years to Correct Racial Inequities

When IU Health Foundation announced the creation of a new Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, Tom and Deb Easterday were the first to contribute. Tom, who serves on the IU Health Board of Directors, said, “I believe that the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund can be a catalyst for collaborative efforts aimed at achieving health equity in Indiana.”

Easterday said his initial awareness of racial disparities in healthcare began more than 30 years ago, when he chaired the Hoosier Heartland Chapter of the March of Dimes and learned about the abysmal rates of infant mortality among Black families in central Indiana. These rates were primarily due to a lack of access to healthcare and healthcare education services for women in low-income areas of Indianapolis. The March of Dimes, spurred on by Charlene Lugar and her husband, Senator Richard Lugar, created a “MOM-Mobile” to take services to pregnant women in Indianapolis’s highest-risk areas.

“Over the next several years, through my work with Special Olympics, the Boy Scouts and IU Health, I have learned a great deal more about how socioeconomic inequality is a leading factor in the disparity in a number of health outcomes,” Easterday said. “I firmly believe that everyone was created equally and has the right to be treated equally. This would certainly include racial equity in healthcare.”

Easterday family photo

Easterday, an attorney and retired executive with Subaru of Indiana Automotive, added, “Being very familiar with the strong values and commitment to the delivery of excellent healthcare that drives IU Health gives me great confidence that IU Health and the IU Health Foundation can play an important leadership role in the effort to achieve statewide racial equity in healthcare.”

The Easterdays would like to see the fund support health education, access to healthcare and ongoing training for healthcare providers regarding racial equity. “Deb especially believes that providing the necessary educational tools and resources for individuals to lead healthy lives is vital to ending many societal health problems,” said Easterday.

The new fund will support creative and effective initiatives addressing health inequities among Hoosiers and advance equitable care for all.

Contribute to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund. Under “Please Direct My Gift To,” select “Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund.”