By Misty Frost
This week, the Senate passed a bill to establish Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, as a national holiday. As the bill passes through the House and finally onto the desk of the President, the holiday will be celebrated by families and organizations across the country. At Carrus, we will mark Juneteenth as a work holiday so our employees can take time to reflect on the significance of this event.
As a holiday, more students will be taught its importance as part of a broader curriculum referencing our nation’s history, including the deep wounds caused by enslavement, exploitation, and systemic racism. We see its traces everywhere, including in our healthcare systems.
Health inequity arises from social, economic, environmental, and structural disparities that contribute to intergroup differences in health outcomes both within and between societies, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Center further notes:
“The effect of interpersonal, institutional, and systemic biases in policies and practices (structural inequities) is the ‘sorting’ of people into resource-rich or resource-poor neighborhoods and K–12 schools (education itself being a key determinant of health (Woolf et al., 2007) largely on the basis of race and socioeconomic status.
Because the quality of neighborhoods and schools significantly shapes the life trajectory and the health of the adults and children, race- and class-differentiated access to clean, safe, resource-rich neighborhoods and schools is an important factor in producing health inequity. Such structural inequities give rise to large and preventable differences in health metrics such as life expectancy, with research indicating that one’s zip code is more important to health than one’s genetic code (RWJF, 2009).”
Black Lives Matter. Black health matters. Raylon Joseph, one of the recipients of the CareerStep 2020 BIPOC healthcare training scholarship, said it best. “Representation matters…seeing a healthcare provider that looks like you do will instantly de-escalate an already stressful health event…The only way forward is diversity, inclusion, visibility, and respect.”
In the last few years, we’ve made a conscious effort to improve our diversity and inclusion efforts — and we are proud to once again partner with the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce to offer our second annual BIPOC healthcare training scholarship this fall.
But we recognize there is so much more to do. That’s why we will continue to listen, engage, and take action to build diversity in our workforce and develop a culture of inclusion at work and in our communities. We will follow through on our commitments and find additional ways to create pathways to more equitable healthcare environments.
It won’t happen overnight, but we’re ready to put in the work. And we’re proud to do our part in driving positive change.