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Letter to the Editor

Racism in health care

To the editor: On April 8, 2021, the CDC made a statement declaring racism a public health emergency. Racism affects millions of Americans on a day to day basis, something we unfortunately see played out on the media again and again. Health care’s role in racism has historically been less publicized, but the Covid pandemic has brought this to the forefront. In the United States, Black, Indigenous and LatinX populations have been affected the most by the Covid-19 pandemic. In Alaska, the Alaska Native and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations have been the most affected in number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths per 100,000 people.

Unfortunately, racism in health care is not new in the medical world, and occurs at both the patient level as well as in various levels of medical training. Recently, racism was brought again to the forefront with a podcast produced by JAMA, a peer-reviewed journal usually known for quality medical updates and research. The podcast was about structural racism but sadly lacked medical experts on the topic. One speaker even denied that racism exists in health care. This was only one of many examples of how JAMA and other medical journals have perpetuated health inequities.

As local health care providers, we want to again acknowledge the systemic racism that is present both locally and nationally. We want our patients to know that there are ongoing efforts to educate ourselves on how to best serve and improve your care. Your health outcomes should not be affected by your race, ethnicity, gender, religion or nationality. We are listening, and we are ready to change. We will advocate for change in the health care system. We will be leaders to change the system from the inside out.

Jennifer Ribar, DO

Carla Cartagena de Jesus, MD

Robin Holmes, MD

Fakira Borkovec, FNP

Mara Becker, PA

Toni Biskup, MD

Jenny Lessner, MD

Gwendolyn Lieb, MD

Ben Thurman, PA-C

Kate Tuma, PA-C

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