SSM Health joins Catholic Health Care Systems to confront racism, achieve health equity

SSM Health
SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee.

SSM Health has announced that it is joining with the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) in a new initiative to confront racism by achieving health equity.  SSM Health joins 22 of the nation’s largest Catholic health care systems committed to confronting systemic racism by prioritizing equity in response to COVID-19; enacting change across their own health care systems by examining and changing hiring, promotion and retention practices to ensure diversity and inclusion; forming stronger partnerships with communities of color to improve health outcomes; and leveraging their united and powerful voice to advocate for policy changes that address the root causes of racism and social injustice.

“This past year has further demonstrated the important and influential role that health care systems can and should play in shaping local communities and society at large,” Joe Hodges, Regional President, SSM Health in Oklahoma. “SSM Health is proud to join this pledge and will continue taking bold steps to ensure better health for all – particularly those who are economically, physically and socially marginalized.”

Collectively, SSM Health and the other Catholic health organizations that have signed the pledge employ nearly a half million people across 46 states and the District of Columbia, and care for almost four million patients annually.  

Recognizing that racism is an affront to the core values of Catholic social teaching, CHA members joined in solidarity to promote the common good and seek justice by being actively anti-racist and accountable in effecting positive change in the communities we serve. 

Four focus areas

Act for COVID-19 equity: Members commit to ensuring that testing for COVID-19 is available and accessible in minority communities and that new treatments are distributed and used equitably as they become available. Members will also work for prioritization of vaccinations for those individuals and families at higher risk — elder populations and communities of color, including Native American communities.

Enact change across our own health systems: Members are examining how their organizations recruit, hire, promote and retain employees; how they conduct business operations, including visible diversity and inclusivity at the decision, leadership and governance levels; and how they incentivize and hold our leaders accountable. 

Advocate for improved health outcomes for minority communities and populations: Members agree to promote and improve the delivery of culturally competent care and oppose policies that exacerbate or perpetuate economic and social inequities, including such issues as education, housing and criminal justice reform. 

Strengthen trust with minority communities: Members will continue to foster, strengthen and sustain authentic relationships based on mutually agreed goals to better understand the unique needs of their communities.

Kaiser and other Catholic health care leaders who have signed the pledge recognize that collectively they are in a unique position to bring about overdue change to policies and practices that have allowed systemic racism and health disparities to continue in the United States.

To hold itself and its members accountable, CHA intends to provide updates on the commitment progress annually.

To learn more about this initiative, visit www.wearecalled.org.

The 23 Catholic health care organizations that have signed the pledge are:

Ascension

Avera Health

Benedictine Health System

Bon Secours Mercy Health

CHRISTUS Health

CommonSpirit Health

Covenant Health

Elizabeth Seton Children's Center

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Inc.

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries, Inc.

Holy Redeemer Health System

Hospital Sisters Health System

Mercy

Mercy Health Services, Inc.

MercyOne

Peace Care St. Ann's

PeaceHealth

Providence St. Joseph Health

SCL Health

Sisters of Charity Health System

SMP Health System

SSM Health

Trinity Health

About SSM Health in Oklahoma 

SSM Health in Oklahoma includes St. Anthony Hospital (Oklahoma City); Bone & Joint Hospital at St. Anthony (Oklahoma City); St. Anthony South (Oklahoma City), SSM Health Outpatient Center (Oklahoma City) and St. Anthony Hospital - Shawnee (Shawnee, Okla.). The SSM Health network in Oklahoma also includes four SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex campuses, a community freestanding ER (El Reno, Okla.), 16 affiliated hospitals, and SSM Health Medical Group with more than 250 physicians and providers.