RWJBarnabas Health and 38 other health systems commit to addressing racism

WEST ORANGE, NJ — RWJBarnabas Health is a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network, a national collaboration of leading health care systems, which published the “Racism is a Public Health Crisis” statement signed by 39 health systems. These health institutions employ more than a half-million employees across 45 states and Washington, D.C., and have committed to take concrete action to address the impact of structural racism in their communities.

For RWJBarnabas Health, taking action to overcome systemic racism and the health care disparities in the communities it serves includes hiring from, procuring from and investing in local communities. It also means tracking progress in these efforts and actively engaging and listening to patients and colleagues of color, modifying behaviors where needed and learning from past experiences.

“Individual, structural and systemic racism has been, and continues to be, a present-day reality of this country. As an anchor institution within our communities, RWJBarnabas Health has both a mission and a moral obligation to address the social and economic inequities that impact our neighbors, co-workers and patients,” said Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health. “We are proud to stand with the Healthcare Anchor Network and our colleagues across the nation to take action in addressing this national emergency.”

“Racism is a public health crisis. In black and indigenous communities and communities of color, we see higher rates of illness and death as a result of systemic racism. We need to harness our collective strength to invest in our communities and to more intentionally hire and buy from local BIPOC communities, so that all people can be healthy and thrive,” Healthcare Anchor Network Director David Zuckerman said. “We all must better understand and act to change the impacts of systemic racism on social and economic conditions and health outcomes.”

Supporting HAN member organizations, including RWJBarnabas Health, are committed to the following: investment in black and indigenous communities and communities of color; implementing policy changes that promote equity and opportunity; improving primary and specialty care; helping their communities overcome chronic diseases; advocating for investments in improvements to health access, quality and outcomes; promoting and retaining leaders of color; providing anti-racism and implicit bias training for all staff and administrators; and advocating for funding for programming for social needs, social services and social justice.

“Our society only truly thrives when everyone has an opportunity to succeed and live a healthy life. We are committed to moving forward together. By harnessing the collective strengths of our organizations, we will help serve our communities as agents of change,” the HAN statement reads.