Utah Hospitals Declare Systemic Racism a Public Health Crisis

photo of a male nurse standing with his arms crossed

Utah’s healthcare organizations released a joint statement last month declaring systemic racism a public health crisis. This announcement comes in the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted underrepresented communities including people of color, low income populations, and those systematically marginalized. The statement reads, “[s]ystemic racism includes a complex array of economic and resource inequalities found throughout significant parts of the U.S. society… research shows that cumulative experience of racism throughout one’s life can induce long-term stress leading to chronic health conditions.” It goes on to outline various goals and action items such as addressing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease, asthma) which disproportionately affect marginalized community members, reinforcing hiring practices to promote diversity and retention, creating institutional policies and trainings for increased capacity to address opportunity gaps, and assessing funding streams so they are equitable and support social needs. It is clear that to address systemic racism, the solutions themselves must be systemic in nature as well. 

The State of Utah has made intentional efforts to start to combat these disparities including through the creation of the Multicultural Advisory Committee, first formed by Governor Gary R. Herbert. This partnership has continued with Governor Spencer Cox’s administration. The group aims to address disparities and systemic barriers for underrepresented groups as it relates to COVID-19 and beyond by elevating best practices to engage, inform, and empower communities so that an infrastructure for future crisis and resource delivery can be founded on serving the needs of those most vulnerable. 

The statement released by the Utah Hospital Association and partners marks future steps to combat racism in all forms so that “everyone has an opportunity to succeed and live a healthy life”, and in so doing, creating a thriving Utah that is a welcoming place to all. It’s never too late to stand against racism and injustice, and it requires collective voices and actions to make a difference. 

To read the full statement visit: https://www.utahhospitals.org/blog/item/212-uha-hospital-systems-announce-statement-on-racism-and-health