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As a health care organization, as well as individuals, we understand that the profound fear, anger, and grief people are feeling reflect longstanding social injustice and the recurring complex trauma — physical, psychological, economic, and social — of African American individuals and communities….It is an important time to reaffirm that at Kaiser Permanente we stand against all forms of injustice and discrimination … and that we stand with you and for you in pursuit of equality for all.
— Greg A. Adams, Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente
A history of nondiscrimination
When Kaiser Permanente opened to the public in 1945, it was “one of the first health care providers in the United States to have racially integrated hospitals and waiting rooms, as well as an ethnically diverse workforce, including physicians and allied health professionals.” Since those early days, the contributions of trailblazing African American physicians and a School of Nursing that embraced racial and ethnic diversity and gender inclusiveness have enriched our workforce and our patients’ lives.
A pledge for 2020 and beyond
75 years after our founding, our commitment to nondiscrimination in health care and in our communities remains firm. However, the recent tragic events in parts of United States have spotlighted the injustices, discrimination, and trauma that people of color continue to face. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed existing health care disparities affecting Latinos and African Americans.
Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Greg A. Adams has pledged, “We know we must strengthen our current efforts to create an inclusive culture and expand our work to address health disparities and their root causes. We will step up our efforts to advocate for the fair and just treatment, opportunity, and advancement of all people.”
Our work to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities
Key achievements include:
- Eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in survival rates among Kaiser Permanente patients who had colon cancer, despite well-documented health disparities in colon cancer incidence and mortality in the United States.
- Eliminating disparities in mortality and medication rates among African American and Latino HIV-positive patients.
- Nearly eliminating disparities for cardiac risks and diabetes markers between black and white seniors covered by Kaiser Permanente in the western United States, even as these disparities persist among patients in other health systems in other regions.
The tragedies that have happened in the last week and months remind us of the need for intentional work to confront and address inequities and systemic racism. Kaiser Permanente stands by our core values of building cultural competency, reducing health disparities, expanding access to health care, and pursuing total health and equality for all.