LMH Health Board of Trustees Statement on Healthcare Equity
LMH Health Board of Trustees
I feel, like most, recent events in our country have awakened a fierce urgency that demands our attention. Most of you know the history of what we know of today as LMH Health. Our hospital was borne from an incident in the early 1900s wherein a physician could not find a hospital bed for a man of color. None of the private hospitals would take the man in, even for a night. The man died and the physician, Dr. Rankin, vowed “to make it his business to create a place where needy poor could receive treatment and care.” When Elizabeth Miller Watkins provided the funding to open Lawrence Memorial Hospital on January 17, 1021, she stipulated that “no person shall be excluded on account of race, or physical, social or financial condition”.
That vow prevails to this day.
The origins of our hospital have been front of mind for me in recent weeks. While much has changed in the decades, the events of recent days demonstrate we’re faced with the harsh reality that we have fallen short and there is still much work to be done.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy defined the civil rights crisis as a moral one, as well as a constitutional and legal one. In 1992, Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall said, “I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” Both Kennedy and Marshall’s comments would still be appropriate today and that is a sad commentary. We cannot allow our continued silence to endorse the status quo.
Last week, American Hospital Association CEO Rick Pollack reiterated the AHA’s vision of a society of “healthy communities where ALL individuals reach their highest potential for health.” He went on to say that hospitals “must address racial, ethnic and cultural inequities, including those in healthcare, that are everyday realities for far too many individuals.” With help from Rev. Verdell Taylor and many others, the LMH Health community has worked toward that goal but we have not done enough.” Russ (Johnson) has already shared his commitment to this effort with the comments he shared last week. I hope every member of the LMH Health family will join me in committing to the hard and potentially uncomfortable work that is required in both our personal and our professional lives to meet this challenge. We must redouble our efforts and commit to each other that we can and we will do better.
Our Abiding Commitment: A History of Inclusion
A message to our community from LMH Health President & CEO Russ Johnson
June 8, 2020