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Dear Colleagues:

During the recent Martin Luther King holiday, I hope each of you had a chance to join an event, volunteer in the community, or simply stop to consider how we can continue to further Dr. King’s vision of social justice and equitable treatment. It was inspiring to see our students, faculty and staff gather to discuss these issues, and I’m proud of people like Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn and Dr. Genevieve Pagalilauan, who were recognized by their peers with Community Service Awards.

For me, Martin Luther King Day is always an opportunity to recommit — both personally and on behalf of UW Medicine — to the work of equity, diversity and inclusion. At the core of our mission to improve the health of the public is the belief that healthcare is a fundamental human right, and that everyone should have the same access and the same opportunities to receive the best possible healthcare.

We know there are significant disparities, not only in society, but also in our own health system. Many passionate individuals and groups within UW Medicine have been working to find solutions. And while I celebrate and support the work we have done so far, I’m the first to acknowledge that we have much further to go. We need to continue to recognize and overcome implicit bias in ourselves and our organization, realizing that this bias perpetuates disparities. We need to work together to make progressive changes in the way we deliver care, develop our workforce and teach our students.

One step we have taken is to join more than 1,500 U.S. healthcare organizations in signing the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act.

The pledge builds on the efforts of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities – a joint effort of the American Hospital Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States and America’s Essential Hospitals – and asks hospital and health system leaders to begin taking action to accelerate progress in the following areas:

    • Increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other socio-demographic data
    • Increase cultural competency training
    • Increase diversity in leadership and governance
    • Improve and strengthen community partnerships


To keep us moving forward, the pledge asks us to define specific actions and milestones to measure and report over the next several years.

Many of these actions are outlined in a new UW Medicine Healthcare Equity Blueprint. The blueprint was forged by a group of clinicians, faculty, administrators, students and community leaders, including representatives from the UW Board of Regents, UW Medicine Board, UW Medicine, and the UW Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Social Work. The document identifies three areas of focus:

    • Increase diversity, increase cultural humility and reduce implicit bias in the healthcare workforce
    • Engage the communities we serve as partners in assessing and addressing healthcare equity
    • Deploy targeted quality improvement and healthcare services to meet the needs of marginalized populations


In support of this work, I’m pleased to announce the hiring of Paula Houston as UW Medicine’s director of healthcare equity. Paula has an extensive background in public health, nonprofit leadership and social service work. She will join the Healthcare Equity Steering Committee and help us prioritize and structure our activities. She will also work with other staff and leaders to reach out to the communities we serve and ask them to be our partners in assessing and addressing issues in our system.

Healthcare equity isn’t owned by one department or leader. Everyone shares responsibility and is empowered to take action in their own workplace and among their own patients and colleagues.

There is much to do. These are complicated issues, and while there is not a quick or easy solution, I believe we share the same strong desire to do the right thing for our patients and our communities. I look forward to reporting our progress as we continue on the important journey toward healthcare equity.



Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.

CEO, UW Medicine

Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and

Dean of the School of Medicine,

University of Washington

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