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Penn Medicine officials announced an anti-racism program designed to to ensure equity, mitigate bias, and eliminate racism at Penn Medicine.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn Medicine officials announced an anti-racism program designed to end structural racism in the Penn healthcare system.

The initiative, called the Action for Cultural Transformation, was announced at the 7th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Equity Symposium on Feb. 3. The project’s goal is to “develop strategies to ensure equity, mitigate bias, and eliminate racism at Penn Medicine,” Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics reported

Penn Medicine released a strategic plan for cultural transformation covering six main domains: clinical, research, education, community, culture, and people. 

Perelman School of Medicine Dean Larry Jameson told LDI that it is important for Penn Medicine to implement ACT this year because it recent months have been a turning point for many in understanding systemic racism.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of a deep understanding of the biases and structural racism in our society,” Jameson told LDI. “And I think we’ve come to recognize that it’s important for all of us not only to look at the external society, but to look internally at our own organizations.” 

The initiative was developed in collaboration with the Penn Medicine community, according to Perelman School of Medicine Vice Dean for Inclusion and Diversity Eve Higginbotham. Over 160 recommendations were included in the program, along with several solidarity statements and community desires for equity, respect, and accountability within the health department. 

Penn Medicine also announced the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health Anti-Racism Task Force as the first recipient of the annual Champion of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Award. The Anti-Racism Task Force received the award due to its work to remove race-based regulations in medical testing and its advocacy for equitable COVID-19 testing, according to Chief Executive Officer of Penn’s Health System Kevin Mahoney.

He projects that ACT will be the start of expansive reform at Penn Medicine, Penn LDI reported.

“The ACT movement is still in its beginning phase, but it’s one that has already brought about real change,” Mahoney told LDI. “We will approach this work the same way we’ve always done for the last 250 years to benefit those we serve and to do it together.”