Never in our lifetimes have we experienced a lockdown of such magnitude: we are quarantined due to a global pandemic and under curfew due to local governments’ response to the civil unrest in the streets.
In this moment, we see clearly the devastating impacts of racial
and economic disparities in healthcare and the corrosive effects of systemic racism in our society. We honor the diversity, dignity, and fundamental worth of all human life and affirm that Black lives matter.
Erie and our fellow community health centers across the country were born out of the civil rights movement, and our commitment to equity and justice has been steadfast. For over 60 years, Erie has been meeting the needs of our communities, ensuring access to quality healthcare regardless of an individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, beliefs, diagnosis, or ability to pay. I personally went into medicine to help serve communities that I saw were being excluded from the right to quality healthcare, and that is why I have been and continue to be proud to serve alongside my colleagues at Erie for nearly 30 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the health inequities that have plagued our country throughout its history; in the last few months, we have seen our Black and Latino sisters and brothers disproportionately impacted by not only the risk of catching COVID-19, but also dying from it. The reasons for this stem from centuries of inequities and injustice in access to housing, food, education, transportation, jobs, and healthcare.
Now, as demonstrators take to the streets to protest the horrifying, explicit acts of institutionalized racism and brutality in our country, including the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and many we don’t know, we stand in solidarity with the Black community for the right of all people to have equal opportunity for justice, freedom, and life. We hear the echoes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s edict:
“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice
to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
May communities across America follow Dr. King’s example of the impact of nonviolent protest and the power of words and positive direct action to effect social change.
At Erie, we acknowledge the reality of racism and its long history and that it is deeply ingrained in our social systems. We hold a responsibility to be an anti-racist organization in order to help end it. Our work on diversity, equity, and inclusion at Erie and within the healthcare system is only the beginning of what we must do.
One thing is certain. Erie was founded and exists today to promote health equity and inclusivity; our vision is that that all people can live their healthiest lives.
We are proud and determined and stand behind Erie’s employees, patients and community partners as together we face and fight against injustice.