Why Do Black Lives Matter in Health Care?

Ascension Michigan understands the importance of racial equity and representation in health care.

Ascension Michigan

For Dr. Teniesha Wright-Jones, D.O., representation and understanding are as important as “do no harm” when it comes to a community’s health – especially Black and minority communities. Dr. Wright-Jones, Ascension Medical Group physician and program director for family residency medicine at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, says, “For truly transformative health care, patients need to have someone they can identify with and trust. When little Black kids see doctors that look like them, doing well and giving back, they know this career path really is a possibility for them.”

Dr. Wright-Jones says, “I wanted to provide primary care in a community setting similar to the ones I received care in growing up. There are a lot of reasons why I decided to come to Southfield, but top of the list, was to serve the African American patients in this area. I wanted to become part of addressing disparities by identifying, understanding and engaging with the community.”

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Over 40% of the people who have died due to COVID-19 in Michigan were African Americans, while Black people make up only 14% of the state’s population. In the wake of COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected the Black community nationwide, and weeks of protests in response to the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, Ascension came out strongly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Dr. Wright-Jones championed the White Coats for Black Lives rally that happened on June 5. Hundreds of doctors, residents, med students and hospital staff across the country and from Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield and Novi gathered for a demonstration that featured various speakers, presentations and, for eight minutes and 46 seconds, they knelt in silence in honor of George Floyd and all the other Black Americans lost to police brutality and disease. 

“Of course Black lives matter, but not just in terms of social justice. In order for all lives to matter, Black ones have to matter in areas like education and health care, too,” Dr. Wright-Jones says. “The COVID crisis hit us twice as hard as anyone else. I want to do my part in dismantling implicit bias and barriers that may hold us back, in particular health care disparities.” 

Ascension Michigan has several community-based campuses throughout metro Detroit and they are committed to caring for all people with special attention paid to those most vulnerable. They offer financial counseling and assistance to help address any concerns patients or families may have regarding their care.

“It’s really about giving back and being an active part of the change,” Dr. Wright-Jones says. “Ascension works to understand the disparities that affect the communities in which we serve, and we take them into account every single day. Starting small with even just one patient a day will make a big change.”

Get more health information and find a doctor near you by visiting ascension.org/michigan or calling 866-501-DOCS (3627).

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