Members of the University of Rochester Medical Center community have felt pain, fear, and frustration about acutely distressing events taking place in our country this week. University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf and University Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Mercedes Ramírez Fernández emailed the entire campus community to acknowledge the emotions so many feel at this moment, offering channels for dialogue and resources for people who need help. On behalf of all URMC leadership, we would like to add an expression of support for the medical center community, and especially our learners, trainees, faculty, and staff members of color.
The video images of George Floyd’s horrific death—a black man killed in the custody of white police officers—are painful to witness. But witness we shall, and add our voices to the millions across the country calling for swift justice against those responsible. We also recognize that the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are not simply isolated incidents. They are the most recent and visible examples of racial injustice, including violence against people of color, which have plagued our nation throughout its history. We understand the anger people feel, and support peaceful protests calling for change.
Last week also marked a painful moment in our struggle against COVID-19, as the number of U.S. fatalities surpassed 100,000 in just four months. More than 23,000 of the people who died are African American, nearly double what we should expect based on their share of the population. Infections are also much higher among Hispanics and Latinos than we should expect. In other words, the pandemic shines a bright light on health disparities that have gone hand-in-hand with racial inequities throughout our country’s history. As our scientists and clinicians work urgently to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, we will leverage our learnings to address health disparities more effectively.
As we all attempt to process the terrible events of the past week, URMC leaders are engaged in conversations with individuals and groups about how the institution can best support them at this challenging time. None of us individually can solve our nation’s racial challenges or the COVID-19 pandemic. By working collectively, however, we believe the University of Rochester Medical Center can have a significant and positive impact on both.
Mark B. Taubman, M.D.
CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center
Dean, School of Medicine & Dentistry (SMD)
Linda H. Chaudron, M.D.
URMC Senior Associate Dean for Inclusion and Culture