The tragic event in Minneapolis and the civil unrest occurring around the country are weighing heavy on our hearts and minds. As a health care organization, as well as individuals, we understand that the profound fear, anger, and grief people are feeling reflect longstanding social injustice and the recurring complex trauma — physical, psychological, economic, and social — of African American individuals and communities.
I grieve with the entire African American community and feel it is an important time to reaffirm that at Kaiser Permanente we stand against all forms of injustice and discrimination … and that we stand with you and for you in pursuit of equality for all.
For far too long, inequality has existed for many people of color, women, the poor, and other groups that have been marginalized in our country. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the extent of this inequality, with data showing that Latinx and African Americans are disproportionately affected by the disease as well as by its economic impacts. And we know it’s broader than COVID-19 — people of color face lower life expectancy, higher rates of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
Yet, equality IS possible for everyone.
For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente’s unwavering mission and foundational values have led us to embrace diversity and pursue equality. Our organization started in the shipyards with women and men, including those of color, working as equal members of industry-leading teams. I’m proud to say that in the 1940s, when hospitals were segregated, our hospitals actively built diverse teams of employees and physicians, had integrated wards, and all our patients were treated equally regardless of race.
At Kaiser Permanente, we’ve always believed that everyone has a right to thrive. We see a future where our members and the people in our communities experience more healthy years so they can live the lives they want — to learn, to work, to play, to love.
Since 1945, we have committed to lead, with our communities, the pursuit of equality for everyone. We know we must strengthen our current efforts to create an inclusive culture and expand our work to address health disparities and their root causes. We will step up our efforts to advocate for the fair and just treatment, opportunity, and advancement of all people. And, we will do even more to promote positive change, equity, and total health for all.
How we come together during times like these reveals the character of our organization. I find hope in the more than 200,000 people of Kaiser Permanente — mission-driven and talented individuals who are committed to ending health and human inequities and collectively creating a better future.
At this time, feelings of stress and anxiety may be compounded for our members, colleagues, and communities by the social isolation and other challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge you to stay safe, and practice even more inclusiveness, understanding, and kindness.
Please continue to care for yourselves and each other. If you need support during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Employee Assistance Program.
In the coming days, I will be convening leaders of Kaiser Permanente to think more boldly about how we can accelerate progress toward a better, more equitable future. There is so much great work already happening throughout our organization, yet I, like so many of you, know we must continually challenge ourselves to do more. If any organization can help meet this great challenge, it’s Kaiser Permanente.
Greg A. Adams
Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente