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Healthcare Stakeholders React to Verdict in George Floyd Case

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   April 20, 2021

America's Essential Hospitals issued a statement about how the case could provide an opportunity to address "health disparities and barriers to care that afflict people of color and other underrepresented groups."

Healthcare stakeholders and leaders reacted to the verdict unveiled Tuesday evening in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, who killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

Chauvin was found guilty on three charges related to the death of Floyd in late May last year, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Related: George Floyd's Death 'Absolutely Preventable,' Doctor Says in Chauvin Trial

The death of Floyd was the catalyst for nationwide protests against racism and police brutality last summer and stirred conversation in the healthcare industry about health disparities faced by vulnerable communities.

Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, posted on LinkedIn that the guilty verdict marked "one step toward justice for all those who have been victims of racially motivated violence."

"At CommonSpirit Health, a core part of our mission is to advance social justice for all. That means that we will continue to advocate for meaningful change so that we can all live in a more equitable, healthier world," Dean wrote. "Each of us has an opportunity to create a better world by showing humankindness in every interaction with those we serve and with each other. And as an organization, we have taken and will continue to take specific steps to reduce race-based health disparities in clinical outcomes, improve the diversity of our organization, and partner with those dedicated to health equity."

America's Essential Hospitals (AEH) issued a statement after the verdict was released about how the case could provide an opportunity to address "health disparities and barriers to care that afflict people of color and other underrepresented groups."

"Although we cannot change the tragic circumstances and avoidable outcome of Floyd’s arrest, we can use this experience to advance the national conversation on overcoming systemic racism in all its forms — including in the health disparities and barriers to care that afflict people of color and other underrepresented groups," Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, CEO of AEH, said. "As we reflect on today’s events, we look ahead to the opportunity to come together as a nation, acknowledge the structural and systemic challenges we still face, and continue the hard but necessary work of building a more just and equitable society."

Related: BCBS MN CEO: Addressing Racism as a Healthcare Organization

National Nurses United released a statement welcoming the verdict but added that "more work is needed on racial justice, including in policing practices."

“We hope this verdict will send a message about the importance of holding police officers accountable for terrifying acts of police violence and misconduct," Jean Ross, RN, president of NNU, said. "We also recognize that this decision would not have been possible without the outpouring of millions of Americans demanding justice following the murder of George Floyd."

Related: Events of 2020 Moved Medical Students to Political Activism

Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted that he did not know if the guilty verdict "truly counts as justice" but added that it is "accountability."

Additionally, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) issued a statement that "justice was served."

"We have much work ahead in fixing the inequities that have long plagued the Black community in our justice system, our schools, health care, housing, prisons and remain deeply embedded in American everyday life," the statement read. "At this inflection point in our national consciousness on race, we reflect on the origins of Community Health Centers and its deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement.  We remember the words of H. Jack Geiger, MD, co-founder of the Community Health Center Movement, who said, 'Of all the injuries inflicted by racism on people of color, the most corrosive is the wound within, the internalized racism that leads some victims, at unspeakable cost to their own sense of self, to embrace the values of their oppressors.'"

Related: Hospital Groups Speak Out About George Floyd Killing, Nationwide Protests

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include commentary from Lloyd Dean, CEO at CommonSpirit Health.

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: Orlando, Florida – May 30, 2020: Protesters gathered in downtown Orlando to show support for George Floyd. George Floyd died after a confrontation while in police custody. / Editorial credit: Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com


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