An MLK Day Message from Dr. Steed
In advance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, MetroHealth President & CEO Dr. Airica Steed shared this video message with our 8,000+ caregivers. She reflects on Dr. King’s legacy, her commitment to health equity and why this work is deeply personal. Here is the transcript:
"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death."
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words as he prepared to address the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966.
Here we are, nearly 60 years later, still fighting this agonizing and immoral injustice, an injustice I am passionately committed to ending.
Shorter lives for some because of the color of their skin, their ZIP code, their gender or for any other reason must become a thing of the past.
For me, it's a deeply personal mission.
I lost both of my grandmothers to breast cancer that should have been detected earlier. My mother died from experimental treatment for a rare form of leukemia when she was just 46 years old, a treatment whose deadly side effects were never discussed with her or her family. My baby sister passed away just last year from breast cancer, too, at the mere age of 39 years old, after she was denied early screenings despite our family history.
I know this pain. It is tattooed on my heart and on my soul.
These experiences have altered the course of my life. They convinced me that I needed to disrupt this broken system of inequality and unfair treatment, treatment that reminds us of the brutal Tuskegee syphilis study, of the ways that Black and Brown people are undertreated for pain and of the forced sterilization of Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people.
I am confident that together we can end this injustice.
As we mark what would have been the 94th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I want to thank you all for you are doing to strive for health equity in everything that you do – in the excellent care that you are providing every single day. But also, I want to thank you for the high school in the hospital that prepares students for promising careers – the only one of its kind across the country, for our partnership with Digital C that connects residents to online medical and other services, and for the affordable housing right here on our campus.
Those are just a few of the bold steps you have taken to make sure that all people are cared for.
Your work to lift up everyone is one of the many reasons that attracted me to MetroHealth.
Today, I ask you to join me as we pledge to accomplish even more. To join me as we commit to treating the wounds that cannot be seen just as well as we treat the injuries that we can see. To join me as we work together to become a national model for treating the whole person.
This is not just about health care; it's about building community. It's about giving people a voice and a seat at the table, about addressing the social drivers of health. It's about doing more than helping people find reliable transportation, healthy food, legal assistance and all the other nonmedical care that you provide. It's about lifting them out of poverty and about giving them a better life.
This is my life's mission. This is my life's purpose. This is my life's vision. One that I'm deeply unapologetic about. And one that I will never turn my back on.
No matter the roadblocks, I know this in my heart: Together, we will get there.
"Make a career of humanity," Dr. King said. "Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
Together, that is exactly what we will do.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.