Becoming a “Beloved Community”

By arhospice on January 16th, 2022

Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On March 25, 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at a Chicago press conference in association with the Medical Committee for Human Rights during its annual meeting. His aim was to bring awareness and action to the lack of Civil Rights Act (signed into law by President Lyndon Bains Johnson in 1964) compliance by hospitals. King would later note during his remarks, “Of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” Nearly 60 years after these remarks, healthcare disparities remain a significant issue in American medicine. These disparities are compounded by the attitudes surrounding medicine in the African American community. Mistrust, developed over centuries of malpractice, place African Americans and other minorities at a great disadvantage when it comes to accessing health care.

As we celebrate MLK Day, its important that we all take time to educate ourselves about those issues that meant the most to Dr. King. Though we often think of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington, Dr. King’s life centered around working to eradicate systemic barriers to access and existing disparities in American life. While it has been nearly 54 years since Dr. King was assassinated, there are issues that we as a nation continue to face that will require our attention and best efforts to affect change and honor his legacy.

A significant disparity we face as an industry is hospice and palliative care usage rates among segments of our population. Nationally, usage rates of End-of-Life care for African Americans lag greatly behind that of their Caucasian counterparts. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Facts and Figures 2020 edition notes, “(Using national Medicare statistics) 50.7 percent of Medicare recipients utilize Hospice care overall. Of those 50.7%, 82% are Caucasian and only 8.2% are African American.” As Duke Divinity School Professor Richard Payne once stated, “African Americans and other minorities are at greater risk of not dying well.”

Arkansas Hospice, Inc. hopes to honor Dr. King’s legacy as we endeavor to make a difference in this area. The Arkansas Hospice Foundation recently was awarded aa $50,000 grant from the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation to educate African American communities in rural Arkansas about the benefits of hospice and palliative care. The grant will support our “Reaching Communities of Color in Arkansas” initiative. The mission of this initiative is to help expand the acceptance and understanding of hospice and palliative care among African Americans, especially in rural Arkansas. This year, Arkansas Hospice celebrates 30 years of service to this great state. Over the course of that time we’ve seen significant growth, change, and positive outcomes. None of this would have been possible without the help of our many supporters. We realize that if we are to continue our legacy of service, your continued support will be necessary as well. Visit the links below to find information about how you can be a part of helping Arkansas Hospice honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, as we work to effect change. If you would like us to share information with your church, club, or organization please make a request by CLICKING HERE.

If you’d like to support our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work at Arkansas Hospice, you can make a gift by CLICKING HERE

Together, we can strive to build the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King spoke of as we fight to eradicate disparities in this arena.

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