Caring for Our Black Community Like Family

Caring for Our Black Community Like Family

From: Rich Roodman, CEO & Valley’s Senior Leadership Team

While no words adequately express the grief, fear, and pain being experienced right now, our mission of caring for our community like family requires us to try. It also requires us to listen, to have an open mind and to act. Our Black community is hurting. The explicit violence and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis and other Black men and women are tragic reminders of the longstanding and deeply rooted injustice and racism that exists in our country. It is time we face this reality head on.

The protests we are seeing are born of pain that has been felt for far too long by far too many people. As a healthcare organization, we must understand the stark inequities that exist in our community have created major health disparities for the Black population and other minorities. According to the American Public Health Association, “physical and psychological violence results in death, injuries, trauma, mental health issues and stress that disproportionately affect these populations.” In other words, racism is a public health emergency.

As caregivers it is our calling to help people and to be a healing force. We understand the foundational need for safety, a core value at Valley. For the health and safety of our Black community and other marginalized populations, we have a duty to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever we see it. It is vital that each of us helps create a culture of equity that positively impacts the health and well-being of those we serve.

We are extremely proud of Valley’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee. We strongly support their input, their guidance and appreciate the perspectives they bring and commitment to tackling tough issues that challenge the status quo. To that end, this week we asked for their thoughts and input on recent events happening across the nation and their recommendations on how to communicate effectively with members of our Black community, both within our walls and outside of them. What follows is a message we want to share with you. We ask you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, listen to the message below and let it sink in. It is an ugly truth. As hard as it may be to hear, it must be said. As difficult as it may seem to fix, we must come together and find a way.

Message from Valley’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Black people in the United States have suffered unspeakably inhumane and shameful treatment since before our nation existed. From enslavement, abduction and unjust incrimination, we have seen little improvement in today’s systemic racism that runs rampant throughout our society. Even in this technologically and economically advanced period, we are still living in a pervasive culture of disparity where Black lives are senselessly taken, lost too soon and too often. Not only have these horrific acts been allowed to continue in the first place, but they have been carried out by the very systems that have sworn to protect and serve every American, their families, their homes, their human and civil rights.

We are heartbroken. We are disgusted. We are angry. And we must do better.

To our Black patients, families and caregivers – your life matters.

In healthcare, our goal is to preserve life in every way. Without this core value, healthcare simply would not exist. We set bones, we mend hearts, we prevent disease, we bring people back from the brink of death and back to their families, and we help them say good-bye. We recognize the Black lives that were taken too soon due to violence and health disparity, and the systemic and institutional racism that is part of the very fabric of American culture. If those with privilege in our society had taken the care and the time to attend to the prejudices that caused the death of so many people in our Black community, they may still be alive. But we did not.

We see you. We grieve with you. We care about you.

We understand now more than ever how our behaviors as a society have cast a suffocating shadow upon the Black community. As caregivers at Valley, we know that we hold an enormous responsibility to lead by example as our service area is home to the most diverse population in Washington state. We take this responsibility seriously and strive to become an anti-racist organization. In collaboration with UW Medicine, we ask each of our caregivers and each person in our community to challenge the personal biases that exist within ourselves and stand up against racism:

  • Call out racism where you see it.
  • Challenge yourself and others to have open conversations to reflect on and share your own biases and perspectives.
  • Continue to work with your peers to bring awareness of and challenge microaggressions.

We are at a crucial crossroads in this moment. We have the choice to make impactful change and we choose not to be silent. It is not enough for us to have good intentions or to ‘not be racist.’ We need to actively be anti-racist and intentionally interrupt and eradicate racism. Valley’s senior leadership in collaboration with the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee pledge to work toward becoming an anti-racist organization, and to help build a better future for the Black lives in our community. The road will be long, and it will not be easy. We will make mistakes and stumble, but we are committed to change – to truly caring for our community like family.

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office