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"Commitment to Health Equity", June 05, 2020

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LifeLong Medical Care mourns with the family of George Floyd. Amidst the civil unrest his murder has unleashed, LifeLong has been reflecting on our organization’s deep commitment to racial justice. In serving our diverse patients, we are well aware that some live under the constant threat of racist violence. Racism is not just a hate crime, it’s a powerful institution into which we are all born.

Make no mistake, institutional racism is at the very core of health disparities between communities of color and white populations. They persist on so many fronts: high rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease; lower survival rates from prostate, breast, and lung cancer; black children with a 500 percent higher death rate from asthma; and infant mortality rates for black babies stuck at nearly 2.5 times that of whites. And in this country with 30 million uninsured, it should come as no surprise that half of those are people of color.

As we continue our battle against COVID-19, the marked impact of this disease on the populations we serve is striking. The high numbers of COVID-19 infections among minority, low-wage workers --many of whom who are doing essential work -- is staggering. And we know that the death rate for African Americans is three times that of white Americans.

For so many in our community, LifeLong brings the health equity that allows families to live better lives each and every day. During this pandemic, Lifelong continues to help vulnerable populations. We brought no-cost COVID-19 testing to Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland, and we continue to expand these efforts.

Community health centers like LifeLong were birthed through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s part of our legacy. It’s who we are. And it’s why we do the work we do. The heart of our mission is to improve the health and lives of our communities’ residents.

In light of this terrible tragedy and all that is happening around us, I hope you will renew your commitment to our patients. We will continue to shine a light on the health disparities that have roots in historical, systemic racism, while simultaneously supporting the power of our patients and staff to improve the health of communities of color.

Today, we say the name “George Floyd.” There have been too many names. Enough. Black Lives Matter.

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