Kaiser Permanente said Friday it plans to put $100 million toward addressing the systemic racism and lack of economic opportunity that have hurt the health of Black people and other people of color in the U.S.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has hit Black and, in California, Latino people especially hard and there is growing acknowledgement among health care experts that racism is at the root of the disparity.
The announcement comes as doctors and nurses from UCSF, Kaiser and elsewhere have spoken out in support of the protests against systemic racism that have roiled the country since the May killing of George Floyd.
“The tragic murder of George Floyd and so many others has reverberated around the world, pushing us to demand overdue change to a status quo that keeps communities of color in the margins and holds us all back as a society,” Kaiser CEO Greg Adams said in a statement. “As a country, this is a moment to define who we are and what we stand for. We must take strong action to stop the physical, psychological, economic and social impacts of inequity and systemic racism so that we can create healthier communities where everybody, regardless of their skin color, can feel safe and thrive.”
Kaiser will join with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit aimed at community development, to launch a $60 million investment partnership that will offer business loans to businesses owned by Black people and other people of color.
“All across the country, we can see that health and wealth are inextricably linked. Creating pathways for people to get back to work in quality jobs, and for small businesses to get on solid ground and grow, is so important for the well-being of the nation at large,” LISC president Maurice Jones said in a statement.
Kaiser will spend $15 million in grants to help such businesses with things like coaching and training. According to Kaiser, long-term financial stress and a lack of access to opportunity can negatively affect health, which stands to be compounded by the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health care giant will also devote $25 million to both grassroots efforts to eradicate systemic racism and its own research and work on the effects of adverse childhood experiences and trauma.
Finally, Kaiser plans to study and redesign its internal systems to limit unconscious bias during the hiring process.
Source:: The Mercury News – Health