WSHA leadership recently had the opportunity to participate in a reception and reading with Dr. Damon Tweedy, author of “Black Man in a White Coat.” Dr. Tweedy is a Duke-trained psychiatrist dedicated to health equity, and his book was also the topic of a recent column by Jerry Large in The Seattle Times. He addressed the intersection of race and medicine as a medical student, physician and patient. As a student, he continually noted almost every disease he studied was characterized as “more common in blacks than in whites.”
Dr. Tweedy highlighted the greater health risks facing African Americans and the lower life expectancy among African Americans. He also highlighted the need to increase the number of black doctors in the United States. About 5 percent of practicing physicians are black, compared with about 13 percent of Americans overall. He notes the fact that black patients are likely to feel more comfortable with black doctors, and that black doctors are more likely to practice in low-income and underserved communities.
Health equity is one of WSHA’s core goals. In its meeting last week, the WSHA board voted on several specific steps forward. First, we will be working with members to develop a standardized data collection processes using Race Ethnicity Age and Language (REAL) data and implement that data collection statewide. Using this data, the board will direct work to respond to identified disparities. The board requested full membership participation in the effort. Second, WSHA as an organization will accept and act on the American Hospital Association Equity-of-Care Pledge. Learn more about the pledge here. The Patient Safety Committee will lead these efforts.
This is exciting and important work, and our Chair Gregg Davidson is passionate about it. We look forward to working with all of you to continue to improve health equity.