Hospital workers get in touch with MaineHealth to take concrete steps to resolve systemic racism –

30July 2020

Workers at MaineHealth are distributing a petition getting in touch with Maine’s largest health care organization to take concrete actions to attend to the systemic bigotry that develops health variations for Black, Indigenous and other individuals of color.

The healthcare group is being asked to develop policies to resolve the disportionately high rates of COVID-19 and absence of health insurance within communities of color.

The petition was posted on July 24 by a group of staff and worried community members calling themselves Mainers for Public Health Justice. It has been signed by over 330 people so far.

The group stated they are asking the organization for specific action steps in reaction to a company-wide letter MaineHealth CEO William Caron sent out in reaction to the George Floyd demonstrations.

“This is a particularly agonizing time for the African American neighborhood, which has actually felt the impact not simply of Mr. Floyd’s death, but the lots of that have come before under comparable scenarios,” Caron wrote to workers.

MaineHealth is the largest private employer in Maine, serving over 1.1 million people at 16 university hospital across the state, including Maine Medical Center in Portland, the state’s largest health center.

“At MaineHealth we are committed to an office that is welcoming and free of discrimination,” Caron continued. “We also desire you to understand that we recognize this work will never ever be completed, and we will always be challenged to do much better when it comes to facing and eliminating any predisposition that exists in our society and every company within it.”

The group said Caron’s letter did not address the ways in which MaineHealth plays a role in perpetuating those racial biases in the healthcare industry, and how the health center chain would go about changing that.

” [W] e think that the most impactful statements scribed by organizations throughout this time have actually offered more significant detail and action steps. The statement mentions that this is an ‘especially painful time for our African-American community’ and that there is ‘predisposition’ in our society without considerably naming how such pain or predisposition exists,” the petition reads. “Surely, the largest health care company in the state of Maine has a considerable duty to call public health racial variations as they are and talk to concrete ways to reduce such variations.”

‘What we’re asking for is a lot more detailed’

A member of the group, who asked for to stay anonymous out of worry of expert effects, stated they discovered MaineHealth’s action to the George Floyd demonstrations frustrating due to the fact that it did not acknowledge the anti-racism work required to produce product outcomes for communities of color.

“I’m just kind of concerned that it will total up to one anti-bias training. What we’re asking for is a lot more extensive,” the member said.

The petition goes on to detail particular action steps that MaineHealth could undertake after developing a working group comprised of Black, Indigenous and other individuals of color to assist the process.

The group said the organization needs to ensure significant representation of individuals of color on MaineHealth’s Board of Directors.

The petition likewise calls for a task force that would supervise of fulfilling particular standards over the next two years for improving healthcare access for uninsured and underinsured Mainers, an out of proportion amount of whom are people of color, the group stated.

The group is likewise requiring a different job force that would specifically look at the results of COVID-19 on neighborhoods of color.

Maine has among the largest variations in COVID-19 cases in the nation and Mainers of color are 20 times most likely to contract the coronavirus than white people.

“Black communities have actually traditionally faced medical discrimination such as forced experimentation, sterilization, and harmful systemic misconceptions, such as a dominating idea that black folks ‘feel less discomfort,'” the petition authors composed. “In the present day, black communities have lower life span, are less most likely to have access to detailed health insurance, face amazingly greater rates of infant mortality, and are more likely to have diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and hypertension. Black people are more likely to be bad, to be put behind bars or have family members that have actually been incarcerated, to be homeless, and to be in foster systems.”

The group said that any legislation that the organization lobbies for at the Maine State Home need to be done just after a racial-impact analysis of the proposal has been finished. The results of that analysis must be detailed in any testimony given to state lawmakers.

The petition also urges MaineHealth to make official demands to local police departments asking them to move a specific quantity from their budget into city health services spending plans.

The petition lays out several potential defenses for clients and employees, such as developing “cultural broker” task positions to oversee culturally-competent care training and tracking hiring practices for hiring individuals of color for open positions, especially leadership positions.

MaineHealth did not right away react to a request for talk about the petition.

Photo: Maine Medical Center in Portland.| Tiffany Joyce, Creative Commons via flickr


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