Racism is a public health crisis. Over the past several months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect people of color. And last week, we witnessed the violent death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department.
We understand that these injustices deeply impact our colleagues, patients and communities of color, and we extend our compassion to members of our staff, faculty, trainees, and community experiencing pain and grief in this time. We must also acknowledge that our words and good intentions are not enough.
In the UW Department of Ob-Gyn, our mission is to improve the health of women and babies in Wisconsin and beyond. We will never accomplish that mission without addressing and combatting racism and discrimination in all its forms.
As leaders in women’s health and public health, we have a responsibility to take action now to dismantle individual and institutional racism. We endorse the action steps proposed by the Association of American Medical Colleges:
- We must acknowledge and speak out against all forms of racism, discrimination, and bias in our environments in our institutions, communities, and society.
- We must stand in solidarity with the black community and speak out against unjust and inhumane incidents of violence.
- We must demonstrate empathy and compassion and acknowledge the pain and grief that the families and the communities of these victims are experiencing.
- We must take the lead in educating ourselves and others to address these issues head on.
- We must be deliberate and partner with local communities, public health agencies, and municipal governments to dismantle structural racism and end police brutality.
- We must employ anti-racist and unconscious bias training and engage in interracial dialogues that will dispel the misrepresentations that dehumanize our black community members and other marginalized groups.
- We must move from rhetoric to action to eliminate the inequities in our care, research, and education of tomorrow’s doctors.
Please join us as we strive towards a more just world.
Laurel W. Rice, MD
Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Ellen Hartenbach, MD
Vice Chair of Education and Faculty Development
Bala Bhagavath, MD
Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Igor Iruretagoyena, MD
Director, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Greg Bills, MD
Vice Chair of Clinical Operations
David Kushner, MD
Vice Chair of Clinical Research
Ian Bird, PhD
Vice Chair of Research
Manish Patankar, PhD
Director, Division of Reproductive Sciences
Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Reproductive and Population Health
Steve Rose, MD
Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
Dobie Giles, MD, MS, MBA, FACOG
Director, Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
Vice Chair of Finance