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Three Indiana health systems address racism in healthcare

For release on October 22, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS – Three of Central Indiana’s largest health systems are pledging to do more to end health disparities and inequity in minority communities, calling systemic racism a public health crisis.

In a joint statement, the presidents and chief executive officers of Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health and Indiana University Health say social and economic inequities, including social determinants of health, such as poverty, inadequate housing, criminal justice bias, food deserts, joblessness and violence, contribute to health inequities in minority communities.

“Eskenazi Health stands with our health care partners in condemning racism and hate,” said Lisa Harris, MD, CEO of Eskenazi Health. “We are committed to inclusive and thoughtful dialogue, to communicating openly, and to doing all we can to foster equity, compassion and inclusion within our organizations and our community.”

 “We are committed to investing in real change.  As an employer, as a healthcare provider, and as a community partner we must set the example as we work for improvements to racial and social equity,” said Bryan Mills, president and CEO of Community Health Network

“Our local health systems have a long history of collaboration when it comes to improving the lives of Hoosiers,” said Dennis Murphy, president and CEO of IU Health. “We do not compete in areas of patient safety and quality and we are similarly committed to working together and sharing ideas in eliminating issues of systemic racism in health care.”

The health systems, which have worked closely together to address the COVID-19 pandemic, have committed to a series of actions to advance their work.

Improving workplaces by:

  • Enhancing a culture of inclusion that seeks, welcomes and values all people.  This means we will address and reduce discrimination among team members, patients and guests;
  • Addressing the economic disparities in our community by ensuring our team members have the ability to achieve jobs that pay a livable wage; and,

Transforming our organizations through an active review of policies, actions and procedures that have inhibited our ability to fully promote a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist organization with measures of accountability.  One of those actions will be to improve the demographic makeup of our leaders to reflect the Indiana communities we serve with particular focus on people of color.

Improving communities by building meaningful and sustained partnerships to promote healthcare equity and reduce healthcare disparities, impact social determinants of health, and build more inclusive communities by:

  • Improving the equity of care for all patients by regularly measuring, monitoring, and improving the care we provide to underserved populations; 
  • Identifying, researching, understanding and addressing racial disparities in healthcare access and outcomes including primary, specialty and behavioral health;
  • Strengthening relationships with other Indiana health systems, as well as state and local municipalities, to improve the health of Indiana, especially in areas that disproportionally affect communities of color;
  • Working with other community organizations (the Indy Chamber, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and United Way) to develop, endorse, and provide support for creative solutions to social determinants of health, especially affordable housing, food security and workforce development;
  • Deepening our engagement with Indiana organizations that have a mission and history of advocating for underrepresented minorities;
  • Continuing to enhance and deliver on our commitments to minority, women and veteran-owned business suppliers; and,

In support of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, continuing to advocate for investments that achieve enduring improvements in access, quality and health outcomes for our communities.

The statement has been posted on each of the health systems’ websites:

About Community Health Network 
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Community Health Network has been deeply committed to the communities it serves since opening its first hospital, Community Hospital East, in 1956.  Community Health Network puts patients first while offering a full continuum of healthcare services, world-class innovations and a new focus on population health management. Exceptional care, simply delivered, is what sets Community Health Network apart and what makes it a leading not-for-profit healthcare destination in central Indiana. For more information about Community Health Network, please visit eCommunity.com.

About Eskenazi Health
For 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to Central Indiana. Nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Lifestyle Health & Wellness Center, Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services.

About Indiana University Health
Named among the "Best Hospitals in America" by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine – one of the nation's leading medical schools – gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology. Learn more at www.iuhealth.org.

Media Contacts:

Todd Harper
Eskenazi Health

Jonathon Hosea
Indiana University Health

Kris Kirschner
Community Health Network

CHNw swiss cross mark
Community Health Network