The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 ignited a multiracial and multigenerational movement against racism; a systemic racism that has infiltrated policies and practices at every level, causing immeasurable harm and generations of trauma to those who are Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPoC). Throughout our country’s history, access to housing, economic opportunity, higher education, and health care have been readily available for those who are white, but not for those who are BIPoC.
As a provider of care for persons experiencing homelessness, we know that Black people represent only 13% of the U.S. population but 40% of people who are experiencing homelessness. This is a staggering statistic – and one that can be traced back to public policy. Placed against the backdrop of COVID-19, we have the data that starkly reveals how people of color have been disproportionately impacted by a public health emergency.
The current movement has sparked individuals, businesses, agencies, and organizations to become more aware of equity and inclusivity for all people by taking a hard look at their practices and policies. Soon after Mr. Floyd’s murder, the leadership team at Duffy Health Center began internal conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We wanted to pull back the layers of our work – from internal policies and procedures; to our hiring practices; to how we provide health care – to ensure we are meeting our mission in providing equitable health care to our most vulnerable community members, regardless of race or ethnicity.
We have taken time to create a thoughtful and meaningful action plan embraced by all at Duffy Health Center – one that we are executing to support DEI in our workplace. Led by a volunteer staff committee representing all levels of our agency, we have created a substantial DEI action plan.
We are making the commitment to:
- Carefully examine our policies and procedures to identify and reconcile structural racism,
- increase the representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Color on our staff and our board to more fully represent the populations we serve,
- implement meaningful trainings for new hires and ongoing trainings for staff and board on issues of DEI, and
- undertake reviews of care to ensure access to and equitable delivery of all health care services we provide.
These are the main themes of our action plan. We commit to keeping our community apprised of our efforts and thank you for your support of them.
Duffy Health Center seeks to promote contracting opportunities for small and diverse businesses by setting supplier diversity goals and encouraging our vendors to apply for certification if eligible.
To learn more about the relationship between systemic racism and the current homelessness crisis in the United States, listen to this episode of Health Matters: Cape Cod.
In this episode of Health Matters: Cape Cod, we’re joined by Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. Bobby provides an overview of the Council’s work and strategic initiatives, including a brief lesson on the landscape of homelessness in the US. The conversation is particularly impactful given its relevance to current events – we talk about how Black Americans are disproportionately affected by homelessness in the US because of systemic racism & public policy; we also hear about how the Council is supporting homeless health care programs around the country during the COVID pandemic.