Anti-Racism Statement

June 2, 2020

Colleagues,

On Monday, May 25, our nation once again witnessed the senseless killing of an African-American man by the name of George Floyd at the hands of someone who was sworn to protect our life, liberty, and property. Mr. Floyd was held down by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee, while pleading that he was in pain and could not breathe. George Floyd, a father, son, and brother was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. As an institution, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh expresses our condolences to George Floyd’s family. Floyd’s death reminds us of the senseless deaths of African American children such as Clifford Clover, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Emmet Till, and our very own Antwon Rose, Jr. We acknowledge the grief, pain, anger, anxiety, and fear amplified by these inhumane acts. The murder of George Floyd highlights the significant and persistent epidemic of racism in our nation. We as a nation have a long way to go to ensure an equitable society where everyone belongs.

We confront this epidemic of racism in the context of one of the worst global pandemics in modern history. This pandemic has devastated economies and livelihoods, further revealing our nation’s disparities in health, education, and employment. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority communities, both because of their occupational exposure (not just in health care, but in food services, environmental services, transportation, and many others) and ongoing disparities in healthcare. There is an emergent need to address racism at an institutional and national level.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a policy statement entitled “Racism and Its Impact on Child and Adolescent Health.” This policy statement highlights the profound societal impact of racism through a growing body of scientific evidence that has found that “racism harms children’s mental and physical health in a myriad of ways.” Here in Pittsburgh, as demonstrated by the city’s Gender Equity Commission report, “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race,” more Black children grow up in poverty in Pittsburgh than in 95% of similar cities. Black girls in Pittsburgh are uniquely subjected to problematic stereotypes, disproportionately disciplined at school, harassed without protection or recourse, and punished for attempting to defend themselves. Racism affects all of us and must be addressed to foster a community in which all children can thrive.

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Anti-Racism Statement

As pediatricians, leaders, and advocates for children, we know that racism adversely affects the population we serve, our children. We are committed to recognize, address, and work to eradicate racism. UPMC Children’s Hospital has a critical role to play in changing our community and assuring that all of our children can reach their full potential.

  1. We will create and maintain an environment where all feel safe to discuss the effect of race and racial and ethnic differences on our organization and our lives. 
  2. We will enforce zero tolerance for racism, harassment, discrimination, or violence against our trainees, staff, patients, and faculty. 
  3. We will identify, discuss, and challenge how race, color, and ethnicity affect our institution, its systems, and its people. 
  4. We will challenge ourselves to understand and correct any inequities we may discover.
  5. We acknowledge that all individuals are at various points along a continuing anti-racist journey. Every person should acknowledge that systemic racism is real, apparent, and a national public health crisis. We also understand that bias can be unconscious and unintentional and that racism is the combination of social and institutional power plus racial prejudice.
  6. We remain committed to working with our many community partners to address inadequate housing, food insecurity, transportation barriers, and environmental pollution as we prioritize primary care for children and families in Pittsburgh neighborhoods that have been historically oppressed and repressed.

Sincerely,

Terence S. Dermody, MD
Vira I. Heinz Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pediatrics
Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Physician-in-Chief and Scientific Director
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Mark Sevco, MBA, MHA
President
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

We thank Drs. Sylvia Owusu-Ansah, Juan Celedón, Stephanie Dewar, Dena Hofkosh, and Elizabeth Miller for contributions to this statement.