Racism and Health

June 06, 2020 By: Bob Atlas, President & CEO

Like people across our nation, we at MHA and throughout the hospital field have been deeply affected by the tragic, senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others.

These losses take a toll, not only on their grieving families, but on us all, as we struggle with the very real consequences of longstanding, systemic racism.

We now are witnessing perhaps the biggest uprising in a generation, as protestors of all races join to cry out against racial injustice that has plagued our country for too long.

While we acknowledge the problem, listen to others, and learn, we must also confront the causes of racism, its manifestations in day-to-day life, and its effects on our communities.

Quite simply, racism is a public health problem. As Maryland’s health care leaders, committed to advance the health of all Marylanders, it is our duty to act.

We know already our marginalized communities struggle with social and economic adversity. Less access to good education, housing, transportation, food, play spaces, and yes, health care, contributes to poorer health outcomes. Racism adds stresses and other burdens that harm health. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and brown people gives yet more evidence.

MHA has begun to lay a foundation to support hospital leaders as you work to reduce health disparities, eliminate implicit bias, and support the underserved.

Last year we launched two member-led groups: our Health Equity Task Force helps hospitals and health systems to address social determinants of health to reduce gaps in health outcomes; our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group advances initiatives to uplift hospital cultures.

They and our policy councils will also help frame an advocacy agenda to make sure government leaders hear the unified voice of the hospital field on matters of racism and other drivers of health disparities.

We must do better. We cannot grow as a society or fulfill our mission to advance health and health care in Maryland until we deal with inequality and bias.


Bob Atlas

CEO & President