HealthWorks for Northern Virginia mourns the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many, many more. Their deaths, and the scores of others who have suffered similar fates, are the culmination of a history of injustice, racism, violence and marginalization against Black people in our community that continues to this day.
The results of such injustice and racism are widespread, with significant and long standing disparities in all aspects of American life – education, employment, earning potential, housing, criminal justice and healthcare. The racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare have been starkly illustrated during the COVID-19 crisis, with a disproportionate impact upon communities of color, a consequence of pre-pandemic realities – a legacy of structural and systemic racism and discrimination in our country.
Born out of the civil rights and social justice movement of the 1960s, our nation’s Community Health Centers continue to serve as advocates for quality care and health equity for all. Providing care to 30 million people in over 14,000 medically underserved communities across America, community health centers are first-hand witnesses to the direct effect of violence, stress, poverty, and physical and mental abuse on the health and well-being of our patients – people on the receiving end of racism and discrimination because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, income level or insurance status.
As a community health center we are proud be intentionally located within communities of need and to provide access to all who seek care. But we recognize this is not enough. It has long been documented that communities of color experience significantly worse health outcomes in hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, to name a few. We witness on a daily basis the struggles faced by our patients and the very negative impact discrimination and systemic racism have on their physical and mental health.
In keeping with our mission, HealthWorks for Northern Virginia stands in solidarity with our community. It is incumbent upon us to address those challenges – social, economic, educational and health – which negatively impact individuals’ ability to be healthy and free of fear. We pledge to work in partnership to help ensure equity and the ability of all people to live free of fear and repression. We must all commit to actively confront the injustices of racism in all its forms and will loudly and unhesitatingly advocate and work for change.