James Burroughs, Children’s Minnesota’s chief equity and inclusion officer, participated in a virtual health equity roundtable discussion organized by Minnesota Senator Tina Smith on Monday. The panel included the Senator as well as participants from a variety of health care and community organizations across Minnesota representing communities of color and Native Americans.
The group focused on the importance of raising awareness around the historical roots of health disparities as well as engaging with Native Americans and communities of color in order to build trust.
“Before you create any policy, you need to listen to the community, really authentically listen,” said Burroughs. “And we need to partner with organizations in the community because they know what’s best.”
Burroughs noted some steps that Children’s Minnesota is taking to ensure better quality care for communities of color, including diversifying hiring by actively engaging in recruitment at more diverse universities and organizations. Children’s Minnesota is also actively diversifying its vendor base and investing in communities of color.
The Senator stressed her opposition to the current lawsuit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which could exacerbate health disparities. She emphasized the importance of continued outreach and discussions, especially in light of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color and the recent tragic death of George Floyd.
“As we all know, Minnesota has some of the worst disparities,” said Senator Smith. “We forget that the reason we are in this situation is that there are policies in place that make this a reality. This isn’t an accident.”
Watch the full discussion here.