“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health ( care) is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The irony of Dr. Susan Moore’s video shocked us. In advocating for herself, she advocated for others as her last act of service. The Association of Black Women Physicians (ABWP), the longest continuously operating professional association of Black women physicians in the US, extends our heartfelt condolences to her loved ones.
We agree with Dr. Aletha Maybek, “If a physician can’t be heard by her own peers to save her life, then who will listen?” Dr. Moore’s credentials and experience as a physician did not help her as she repeatedly advocated for herself up until her demise. Dr. Moore’s death will be another disproportionate statistic in the COVID Pandemic that egregiously displays healthcare inequities in our broken system.
As physicians familiar with COVID-19 treatment, we challenge the notion that she received technically excellent care.
The need for accountability by the Indiana healthcare system and the larger medical community, in the death of Dr. Moore is a given. Failure to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr. Moore’s care and put forth corrective anti-racist action sends a message that her mistreatment and subsequent death is inconsequential.
Because this is the second hospital death of a Black physician in less than 90 days, we call for mandated patient advocacy, anti-racist policies, accountability, leadership and funding to ensure success of these initiatives.
We charge Insurance Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson to implement emergency regulations defining 30-day pneumonia readmissions as a quality of care problem, and maternal deaths as a never event, permitting health plans and the Department of Health to aggressively investigate. Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is two times greater than the national average. Poor healthcare quality is costly and affects all of us. The Indiana Department of Insurance and the Indiana State Department of Health must collaborate to develop financial sanctions to ensure equitable outcomes. If lacking this authority, we ask Governor Eric Holcomb to call for a special legislative session to enact necessary reform and rulemaking.
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If “all lives” mattered, the standard for a drug raid in Malibu or Cherokee Gardens would have been used on Elliot Avenue. If “all lives” mattered, professionals would be prudent in the use of force in response to non-violent crime. If “all lives” mattered, potential innocent victims would be included in the calculus of decision-making
Breonna Taylor was not the subject of any criminal inquiry when she was shot six times in a botched raid. No hostage was saved. No mass murderer was apprehended. A drug case merited jeopardizing Breonna and her neighbors’ lives.
She and her family did not receive justice. Black women deserve more. We need accountability for the decision to execute a no-knock warrant. Breonna Taylor deserved the presumption of innocence and concern for her future. Released jail recordings show the subject of the investigation admitted having no contact with Breonna. We have had enough of the lack of accountability and consequences for those that continue to murder Black bodies. We applaud the changes in the warrant approval and oversight process but grieve these changes arose from the death of an innocent sister.
Black Lives Matter. Black Women Matter.
The Association of Black Women Physician condemns the injustice of our criminal justice system that does not hold officers accountable. We call for police reform. We call for an end of structural racism. We call for implicit bias training in the medical and justice system. We encourage government officials to continue to their part to build a more equitable system for all. Now is the time to be intentional.