June 16, 2020

Taking Action Against Racial Injustice

Rural Health

Taking Action Against Racial Injustice 

Like millions of people around the world, we at Orchid Health are outraged by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many other Black human beings - fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, siblings, and best friends - by racist individuals, including individuals in law enforcement. 

Black people living in America do not have the same opportunity to live a healthy life. They are unjustly harassed, criminalized, and incarcerated due to systemic racism that has been embedded into our Nation's structures and beliefs over the past four centuries. 

This is unacceptable, and I am calling on all business and community leaders to unify, to share strategies, and to take immediate and ongoing action against racial injustice. 

Specifically, it is our obligation at Orchid - as an organization founded on the belief that "Everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity at living a healthy life" - to take a vocal and active stance against racism and work harder at being an antiracist organization. 

We know that People of Color face many barriers to accessing health care services, being listened to and heard, and receiving unbiased care. We know that Black women die from pregnancy and childbirth at 3-4 times the rate of white women and Black children are more than twice as likely to have asthma as white children. We also know that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on People of Color and that the economic effect of response to COVID, is affecting, and will continue to affect Black, Native American, and Latinx communities the hardest. 

Racism is a public health emergency, and it affects all communities, both urban and rural. 

We must look to leaders in the movement such as best selling author and professor, Ibram X. Kendi, who describes how there is no neutral stance toward racism because we are living on an uneven playing field. Our ideas, actions, and advocacy, or lack thereof, are either racist or anti-racist. 

We must talk about race and racial injustices openly within our organization because staying silent is allowing racial injustice to continue. We must be vulnerable in admitting that we have perpetuated inequities by not naming them and addressing them explicitly in our work. We must take action because how we spend our time, attention, and money speaks more accurately about our real human values than statements do. 

This is our problem to help solve. It is our mission, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

Over the past several weeks we have created the below action plan outlining the initial steps we are taking at Orchid. Furthermore, we acknowledge that this is a lifetime worth of work, and this is only the beginning.

Action Plan: 

1. Educate ourselves and our stakeholders about systemic racism by: 

  • Dedicating time to anti-racism learning as part of our ongoing leadership development initiatives. 
  • Inviting minority populations in our communities to advise us on what they are experiencing and what would be helpful. 
  • Adding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion learnings to our Shared Language Initiative for all team members. 

2. Launch a racial health equity initiative at Orchid that includes the following:

  • Regularly looking at our communities and the patients we serve from a racial equity lens by adding these filters to our utilization and health outcome reports, discussing any specific disparities amongst all of our team members, and launching specific initiatives aimed at serving non-white populations. 
  • Adding a racial health disparities field to our community assessment matrix to better inform decisions about strategic growth. 
  • Providing employees volunteer time to support black social justice organizations.

3. Update our hiring practices to include the following: 

  • Adding a diversity field to our internal candidate assessment template to explicitly recognize the value that diversity brings to our team. 
  • Focusing on investing in people of color from our local and surrounding communities to provide the opportunity to start or continue their professional journey with us. 

4. Support local policy changes that will lead to a more equitable healthcare environment and society as a whole, including: 

  • Encouraging our team members to become educated and participate in local elections. 
  • Providing company endorsements of candidates and ballot measures before local elections 
  • Contacting local officials to advocate for racial equity. 

Orchid will publicly comment on our progress on the above actions and any other learnings quarterly moving forward to hold ourselves accountable and to share our efforts with other organizations serious about carrying out real change. If you have feedback or questions on how the above changes will be rolled out or would like to engage in a direct conversation about this work, please message me directly. 

Time to get to work. 

Orion Falvey, 

Executive Director, Orchid Health 


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