UMASS MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE HOLD VIRTUAL HEALTH EQUITY OPEN FORUM

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UMass Memorial Health Care to hold Virtual Health Equity Open Forum

FOR IMMEDIATE  RELEASE

October 28, 2020                                               

Contact: Tony Berry

508-793-5394 (O) 774-317-0422 (cell)

anthony.berry@umassmemorial.org

Worcester, Mass, UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest system of care in Central Massachusetts and a member of America’s Essential Hospitals, is hosting its first-ever (virtual) Health Equity Open Forum tomorrow. The Facebook Live event will focus on racial disparities in health care impacting patients and families in Central Massachusetts and beyond. UMass Memorial has held numerous conversations internally about these troubling issues and now wants to engage with a wider audience to extend the dialogue.                                                                                                                                                                   

A distinguished panel of community members and elected officials will join moderator Gina Plata Niño, an attorney with Central-West Justice Center for the event, including:

Eric W. Dickson, MD, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care - “Once we learned that the pandemic was disproportionately impacting the Latino and African American populations we immediately created a COVID-19 Education & Testing program for underserved populations to help address these racial disparities. In concert with that external focus I also wanted to identify and address any problematic areas within UMass Memorial that were barriers to a more inclusive workplace for all employees and to providing equitable care for all patients. I’ve been holding Listening Sessions with employees to hear their ideas on how we can make UMass Memorial more welcoming to all employees, patients and families.”

Congressman Jim McGovern, 2nd Congressional District of Massachusetts - “The events of 2020 have unambiguously demonstrated the destructive impact of systemic racial and ethnic disparities across our nation and here in Massachusetts. National and local data clearly show that Black and Latino communities have been dramatically and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.  This should distress us all , and we can and must take action and do something about it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this forum so we can discuss how to address systemic racism in our health care system.”

Matilde “Mattie” Castiel, MD, City of Worcester Commissioner of Health and Human Services - “For us, Health Justice means naming racism as the root cause of health disparities at the core, and working together to constantly and actively fight against barriers that have been put in place as tools of oppression. It’s time we critically look at our own institutions and ask, who makes the decisions? Who sits at the table? Diversity and inclusion are only the first step in recreating our healthcare systems as anti-racist institutions.”

Dr. Sarai Rivera, Worcester City Councilor and Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Health – “Health disparities are nothing new, but their prevalence has been made very clear by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In Worcester, Latinos make up 21 percent of the population but 38% of COVID-positive cases, and Blacks are 13 percent of the population but 22% of cases.  It is absolutely critical that we act now to address the impact of systemic racism, not only to address COVID, but to reduce and eliminate all health disparities over the long term.”

And Tayyaba Salman, MD, Hospitalist at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital and a member of its Minority Advisory Council.

The public is invited to log on and participate. They will have an opportunity to submit questions for the panelists during the hourlong event by logging onto the UMass Memorial Facebook page during the live event and submitting a question in the comment section. You do not have to be a Facebook user in order to log on to see the live event.

WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 2020, 11 am to noon

WHERE: Facebook Live, UMass Memorial Facebook page

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