Hundreds of health care professionals confronted the issue of racism within their industry at the ‘We Can Do Better‘ conference in Portland Thursday.
Racial disparities in health care are well documented. Whether in the operating room, a doctor’s office or an ambulance, white patients tend to enjoy better outcomes.
Health care organizations are still struggling to figure out why racial disparities remain.
Physician assistant Leslie Gregory thinks doctors, nurses, everyone can start by examining their own work to see where discrimination slips in.
“You enter into every circumstance in your life and ask the question, where is racism at play here? Not is it. Not how is it. But where is it?” she said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Camara Jones encouraged white conference attendees to use their privilege to reduce racial disparities.
“If you are living as white in this country right now, you have white skin privilege. You can’t shed it. You can try to deny it. But it is operating for you today. And so the challenge is not to try to deny it, or get offended, but to use it,” Jones said.
The conference was sponsored by the Oregon Health Authority and most of the state’s large health care systems like Legacy, PacificSource and Kaiser Permanente.