Diversity and Equity
We drafted a collective mission statement that embodies our program’s values (residents, faculty, and staff):
Our mission is to bring together a cohesive, supportive, and hard-working group of residents from diverse backgrounds who are devoted to patient care and to the success and well-being of one another. We pledge to work tirelessly to eliminate all forms of exclusion and discrimination within our residency and community including, but not limited to: classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and religious oppression.
Racist institutions that promulgate racial violence against oppressed groups, specifically our Black and Latinx communities, have no place in medicine and must be dismantled. In an effort to be more aware, compassionate, inclusive and actively anti-racist, we are in the process of developing anti-racism curricula for our residents and faculty. Collectively, we participated in the 21-day Race Equity Habit Building Challenge © developed by the American Bar Association. In addition, as a program, we read How to Be an Anti-Racist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and discussed at our 2020 Book Club. Our antiracism and equity Book Club takes place yearly in February. Most recently we discussed Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. Our commitment to anti-racism is further exemplified by the example of our former program director, Dr. Alda Maria Gonzaga, MD MS, who has led multiple bystander intervention training sessions. Our residents are involved in a variety of projects, outlined below, which aim to address racial violence and health inequities and to eradicate white supremacy and the destructive impact on the health of many of our patients that it fosters.
We acknowledge that this is not enough, and much more work needs to be done. Anti-racism is a lifelong commitment to self-deconstruction and reconstruction. This work will humble us to our cores and enable us to reflect internally on how we each can improve. We are committed to doing more than offering up mere lip-service. We, as both as individuals and as a program, are here for the process.
We love Pittsburgh for so many reasons: its affordability, rich culture, food and bar scene, outdoor space, sports scene, arts and architecture, historic blue-collar tradition, and so much more. Pittsburgh is one of the most captivating cities in the US. Because we love our city, it is important to acknowledge and address the systemic inequities that make it less livable and less safe for some people.
From the city’s creation in 1758 to the early 2000s, Pittsburgh’s main sources of revenue were metal industries. A wave of deindustrialization and the collapse of the steel industry, starting after WWII, led to the economic decline of the region and the migration of the white, middle-upper income into the suburbs. Now, Pittsburgh’s current population of roughly 300,000 is divided among 90 unique neighborhoods, Pittsburgh is predominantly white making up 2/3 of the population. About 1/4th of the population is black and 5-6% Asian with even fewer percentages of other racial categories.
Similar to other mid-sized and large cities, housing discrimination and redlining led to the concentration of poverty in black neighborhoods and communities, ultimately paving the way for stark disparities. Pittsburgh bears the particular shame of having razed much of the Hill District–the centrally located, largely black neighborhood–in 1956 in order to construct a hockey arena, parking, and other downtown amenities under the guise of “redevelopment.” Black Pittsburghers are still waiting for accessible housing there and elsewhere in the city.
In September 2019, the “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Race and Gender” report highlighted distinct health, education, employment, and income inequities within our community. For example, fetal deaths are two times more likely among Black women than white women, despite the fact that mothers across all demographics start prenatal care earlier than comparable cities. It has become a rallying cry among physician-activists for structural improvements at UPMC and beyond.
Located in Turtle Creek, PA, our primary care clinic pulls patients from large swaths of southwestern Pennsylvania. For generations “the Crick” has been known for its tight-knit community of multiple generations. It is home to former Heisman Trophy winner Leon Hart, Olympic Gold Medal winner William McMillan, and the popular ‘60s band The Vogue. Less famous than the neighboring municipality of Braddock just downstream, Turtle Creek boasts its own unique amalgam of culture.
According to most recent census data from 2010, Turtle Creek’s 5,000 residents are 70% white, 25% Black, and 5% Latinx, Asian, or other. Average household income is ~$40,000 with a poverty rate of 28.76%. Broken down by race, the black poverty rate is 28.83% and white poverty rate is 23.45%. Education levels are varied, however 38% of the population have a GED and 23% have some college education. Average salaries for men and women are $38,000 and $23,000 respectively. Lastly, the unemployment rate is 6.7%.
Our Primary Care Center at Turtle Creek patient panel further highlights the unique way our residents are able to provide healthcare to an underserved community. 64.6% of our patients identify as Black, Non-Hispanic. 78.6% of our patients are on Medicaid. Most of our patients come from Turtle Creek, but we also serve many neighboring communities. The top 5 neighboring communities that we care for in our primary care clinic are Braddock, North Versailles, East Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, and McKeesport. Of the 15 municipalities in Allegheny County, Braddock and East Pittsburgh have the highest percentage of residents receiving county provided mental health services. 11.64% of children in McKeesport are involved in a child welfare case.
Sheer numbers demonstrate how underserved our population is and highlight inequities along race and gender. We are committed to not only caring for our patients medically, but also addressing the socioeconomic needs and inequities. A few of our residents are working together on a community resources project to educate faculty and housestaff about the needs of our community and better equip our clinic to assist the holistic needs of our patients. We also have an Assistant Program Director of Ambulatory Education who has adopted and actively supports our mission of progress. Throughout this year we aim to strengthen existing and build new relationships within the community to address gaps in health, education, housing, and income.
- Voter registration for patients and families
- Census 2020 outreach
- Lobbying at state and federal levels to protect the rights and health of undocumented immigrants
- Lobbying at state and federal levels for anti-gun violence legislation
- Incorporating race conscious books into GAP clinics
- Responding to the wave of anti-Asian racism during the COVID19 pandemic
- The Pittsburgh Study
- Incorporating patients’ affirmed name, gender and pronoun into the EMR
- Helping to write a communications course for residents to learn how to deal with bigoted statements by patients or family members
- Serving on Diversity and Inclusion committees for both categorical residencies
- Additional of race and equity teaching points to each ambulatory conference
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about our advocacy and initiatives.
- Recruitment and retention of standardized patients for student and resident learning, who reflect the population of Pittsburgh, explicitly focusing on ensuring representation of Black patients and Black patients’ experiences of racism in healthcare
- Participation in institutional and local forums about racism in Pittsburgh
- Twitter, letter and email writing campaigns for causes including support for anti-racism, Black maternal health, child health, LGBTQ health and others
- Advocacy to division and department heads about partnering with Black-led local expert organizations to advance initiatives, rather than redoing work that has already been done by these organizations
- Participation and leadership on committees within the institution and nationally addressing bias and promoting anti-racism
- Voter registration advocacy
- Committee development with residents to incorporate race, diversity and equity topics into ambulatory curricula
- Multi-institutional working groups about DEI
- American Bar Association, Syllabus: 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge
- Suzanne Elliott. “Turtle Creek to mark 125 years with three-day celebration.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11 August 2016
- World Population Review, “Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania Population 2020”
- Bob Carlin and Steffi Domike, “Final Report–Ethnographic Survey–Turtle Creek Valley,” (1992)
Department of Pediatrics
1 Children's Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Avenue
AOB Suite 5400
Pittsburgh, PA 15224