The CEO of IU Health is speaking publicly about racism as a public health crisis, and says Black leaders in the organization want more training dedicated to being “actively anti-racist” in culture.
Dennis Murphy took part in a forum Tuesday evening with the Indianapolis Recorder and the Greater Indianapolis NAACP branch. He and fellow CEOs at Eskenazi Health and Community Health Network, who hire and oversee more than 70 percent of Hoosier doctors, pledged last fall to create a culture of inclusion.
Murphy gave more insight into that pledge, saying more than 150 Black leaders at IU Health have been surveyed on these issues. He said IU Health clinical data should always include race from here on out, so the hospitals can be accountable for “equitable care.”
IUPUI history experts at the forum said research shows Black patients across income and demographics levels report feeling less safe than their white counterparts in seeking medical care.
The forum came amid two ongoing reviews into the COVID-related death of Dr. Susan Moore on Dec. 20.
Moore, a 52-year-old African American woman, died after alleging racial bias in her care at IU Health North hospital. A video that she made from her hospital bed went viral on social media, drawing comments from doctors, public health experts and vice president Kamala Harris.
In the Dec. 4 video, Moore says she was treated “like a drug addict” by a white doctor when she asked for pain medication. She died weeks later, after being moved to a different hospital.
IU Health is conducting an internal review of her care and has set up a review by a team outside experts. The six-member external team is co-chaired by Dr. Jeannette E. South-Paul and Dr. David S. Wilkes.
South-Paul is chair of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a former U.S. Army Medical Corps officer. A biography shows she is a family physician with specific interests in cultural competence, maternity care, and health disparities in the community.
Wilkes is dean of the University of Virginia's School of Medicine, a veteran and an expert on diversity and inclusion. He was formerly a research executive associate dean at Indiana University School of Medicine and research assistant vice president at Indiana University. He was also director of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Physician Scientist Initiative.
In his latest written statement about the Moore case, Murphy says her "family deserves [...] answers” on whether her care was empathetic, appropriate and without discrimination.
Black public health experts who spoke with Side Effects Public Media say they continue to be concerned for Black patients being treated equitably. They plan to follow the progress of the reviews.
The results of the reviews will be shared with Moore’s family first, IU Health says.
This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.