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Black History Month displays at Cook Medical headquarters
February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions that the Black community has made to culture, the arts, science, and to our society as a whole. It’s also a chance to listen, reflect, and recommit to efforts that combat racial bias and bring us closer to equality. Here are three ways that we here at Cook Medical are committing to deepening our knowledge, using our voice to amplifying Black voices, and working with our industry and community partners to make progress year round.
At Cook, we’re grateful for the many contributions that Black leaders of the past and present have made in the field of medicine, and we have created an online resource hub where all our teams can learn about some of these important figures and find additional information and education on Black History.
From Dr. James McCune Smith, the US’s first Black doctor, who fought back against race-based pseudoscience and advocated for better medical care for his community, to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a 2021 TIME Magazine Hero of the Year, whose research into spike proteins formed the basis of life-saving vaccines against COVID-19, the tireless work of Black doctors and scientists has created better outcomes for millions of patients across the globe.
Black doctors currently make up just 4% of American doctors, with a study from the Association of American Medical Colleges showing explicit bias, economic issues, lack of role models, and unequal access to educational opportunities as key factors behind this underrepresentation. This disparity negatively affects patient outcomes in Black patients, who are more likely to develop trust, accept screening recommendations, and discuss health issues with a Black doctor versus a non-Black doctor.
To truly solve problems together, we’ve committed to supporting organizations that work to remove these barriers for Black healthcare providers and patients and that elevate Black voices in medicine.
Last year, Cook Vascular supported the very first in-person meeting for the Society of Black Vascular Surgeons at the Society for Vascular Surgery Annual Meeting (SVS VAM). This was the first time the group met in-person after forming during the pandemic.
Rendering of the new Indy Fresh Market grocery store, a Cook collaboration in Indianapolis
Partnering with and buying from Black-owned businesses and suppliers is crucial to closing wealth gaps and creating job growth, and Cook has placed intentional focus on our role in these efforts.
In 2022, Cook partnered with Martin University, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, and Impact Central Indiana to break ground on 38th and Sheridan, a manufacturing facility located in a majority-Black area of Indianapolis that has seen a significant loss of employment and investment in recent years.
In addition to the 38th and Sheridan facility, Cook has invested in Indy Fresh Market, a grocery store constructed in a food desert near the new manufacturing facility. Indy Fresh Market will be built by Cook using 100% minority contractors and will be owned and operated by neighborhood residents Michael McFarland and Marckus Williams.
Researchers from the IU Public Policy Institute estimate the 38th and Sheridan facility to have an economic impact of nearly $26 million per year on Marion County and the grocery store to have an impact of $4.5 million per year.
Cook Medical President Pete Yonkman has also called on other business leaders to invest effort, space, and expertise in finding solutions—rather than just philanthropy—to issues that plague areas like the 38th and Sheridan neighborhood. Yonkman announced this call for support in the form of a 24-Hour CEO Challenge at a February 9 meeting of the Economic Club of Indiana.
In 2020, we released Our position against racism, where we acknowledged our responsibility to do our part in combating injustice and intolerance in the global community. Since then, we’ve introduced employee-led Business Resource Groups, established community partnerships with intentional effort to build a more diverse candidate pool, rolled out unconscious bias training for all employees, and worked with our global teams to develop action plans for each region with a Cook office.
While we’re proud to report that we’ve made progress against each of our original objectives, we know that the mission is never accomplished while discrimination and inequality continue to exist in our world. To that end, we will continue to listen to our employees and global communities as we seek to do the work toward creating a more affirming and just society.