Any way you cut it, this has been a very tough few weeks in our country. We have witnessed a colorful tapestry of Americans voicing loud opposition to the systemic injustices and institutional racism. We’re also seeing centuries’ worth of wounds being opened and spilling into our streets — and tragically into our emergency departments — here in the greater Kansas City metro and in cities of every size coast-to-coast.

As a physician, organizational leader, mother and American, it’s almost too sad and maddening to bear. From the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, to last week’s frightening nightly chaos in the streets, we continue to see the tragedies of this crisis add up to alarming and painful totals. The damage is extensive, not just to property, but to our national fabric.

As health care professionals, we see the injustice. The broken bones, the cracked ribs, the burning eyes, the gunshot wounds, the tragic final moments, the weeping families, the mourning community. It’s all senseless, and it goes against our values and very nature as care providers. While not all hospitals have been directly affected, this crisis goes far beyond one hospital or health system or one community in crisis.

Because in the end it falls on us as a field to mend the broken bodies and console the grief-stricken mothers. It also falls on us to try and fix the pain and physical trauma. I urge all of us to see how we can also help fix the trauma it’s causing in our communities and in our hearts and minds.

Once again in this unforgettable year, we find ourselves in the middle of a heartbreaking, historic moment that cannot simply be dismissed or ignored. It’s too important. Instead, we must face it with compassion toward our neighbors, and a commitment to lean heavily and together on that arc of the moral universe as it strives and struggles to bend toward justice.

Meanwhile, in our hospitals and exam rooms, we’ll continue to contribute in the ways we know best: with our exceptional skills and expertise, with our sense of service and our dedication to caring for our neighbors, our patients, families and friends. Focused on the patient always, dedicated to the mission fully, and ready to care for and serve everyone.

I’m proud to be a part of the American Hospital Association and its commitment to helping address and end racial, ethnic and cultural inequities, especially those found in health care, especially those affecting our own communities and neighbors.

This is where we are uniquely qualified to make a difference, and I know we can rise to the challenge. It’s what we do.

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