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In March 1966, a little less than three years after delivering the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fully turned his pulpit toward racial and socio-economic disparities in health care. As he was organizing a direct-action campaign against hospital discrimination in Chicago, he famously said:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on these disparities. Latino and African American people in the U.S. have been nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 infection as white Americans. These are communities that are already disproportionately suffering from diabetes, heart disease and obesity — all conditions which increase susceptibility to the effects of COVID-19.

As economic and social conditions continue to influence differences in our health statuses, Dr. King’s message is as urgent as ever — and we at Brown & Toland hear it clearly. Here are three ways we are heeding Dr. King’s call:

  • Reducing health disparities: We are supporting the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, a new fund from the American Heart Association designed to power solutions aimed at reducing health disparities and addressing social determinants of health. We are working within the San Francisco and Oakland communities to connect non-profits to the support and funding they need.
  • Ensuring access to COVID-19 testing and more: The Brown & Toland Health Foundation supports programs and entities that help improve access to COVID-19 testing, as well as health care, food supplies, nutrition education, shelter and mental health services. The foundation is designed to ensure access to primary care, which is essential for providing care to underserved communities.
  • Emphasizing Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): We are exploring programs and technology solution pilot partnerships that create social and physical environments that promote good health for all. Brown & Toland is partnering to address factors such as access to healthy food, providing nutrition education, and options for the unsheltered. We are working collaboratively with the health care community to shine a light on the importance of SDoH in treating the whole person for overall better health.

These steps are just some of the ways that Brown & Toland is reaffirming our determination to make Dr. King’s dream a reality and ensuring that all our members — regardless of background, culture, or where they live — can achieve their best health.