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RWJBarnabas Health embarks on system-wide initiative to end racism

RWJBarnabas Health has amplified its efforts to address equity and systemic racism to promote an antiracist culture throughout the organization and the communities it serves.

“Ending Racism, Together” focuses on creating racial, ethnic and cultural equity, prioritizing those communities that are most disenfranchised and experience poor health, and social, economic, and educational outcomes due to the generational effects of racism, according to a statement provided by RWJBarnabas.

Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and chief executive officer of RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with the Corporate Board of Trustees, recognized that the system needed to do much more to strengthen its commitment to equity in order to improve outcomes and eliminate health disparities, according to the statement.

“For the past several years, RWJBarnabas Health has become a national leader in the country as we have worked towards diversity, equity and inclusion. Now we recognize the need to accelerate our efforts,” Ostrowsky said in the statement. “The pandemic, paired with the recent civil injustices, have shone a very bright light on inequity and systemic racism. “Ending Racism, Together,” one of our most important endeavors, will be transformative, not just for people of color but for our entire enterprise.”

“As a nationally recognized health system, we know that our initiatives are tracked and emulated across the country,” said Celeste Warren, vice president for Merck’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Center for Excellence, RWJBarnabas Health Corporate Board Trustee and chair of the “Ending Racism, Together” Board Committee.

“ ‘Ending Racism, Together’ aims to build an environment and a framework that addresses all forms and manifestations of racism. One program or annual meeting is not enough to address a deeply rooted – and deeply harmful – public health crisis,” she said in the statement. “By increasing the knowledge of racism and bias, as well as embedding antiracist policies, practices, and behaviors into every aspect of our work, we are certain that we will move the needle on health disparities and inequity.”

“Ending Racism, Together” focuses on four primary areas: patient care, workforce, community, and system operations. Using an evidence-based approach, each area includes quantifiable tactics to measure success at the organizational, facility and individual level.

“Racism has existed for far too long. As a society, we have made attempts to address inequity but have yet to see true equitable outcomes,” said DeAnna Minus-Vincent, senior vice president and chief Social Integration and Health Equity strategist at RWJBarnabas Health, who is spearheading “Ending Racism, Together.” “As a woman of color, I have seen the fluctuated interest in civil rights issues over the years. This time in America feels very different. Here at RWJBH, we are tackling the longstanding, pervasive pandemic of racism, with all the passion and vigor that it requires. We are demonstrating that sheer desire from a small minority does not manifest change, it takes planning and a prioritized commitment, as well as leadership from the top, to create a sustained systemic culture shift.”

“ ‘Ending Racism, Together’ is designed to ensure that we carefully review our policies and our work flow to improve health outcomes for Black people, Brown people and all people of color,” Ostrowsky said in the statement. “We are going to ensure that RWJBarnabas Health is an antiracist enterprise with equitable policies and behavior. This journey will be a primary focus for us this year, and beyond, as we integrate this work into our standard practices.”


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