The Saint Michael’s Medical Center family gathered Friday in silent
reflection for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd, a black
man whose death has sparked global protests against police brutality and
The event was spearheaded by Dr. Hamid Shaaban, a chief medical officer
at Saint Michael’s, who said Floyd’s death has been particularly
harrowing and distressing for him and many of his colleagues at the hospital,
which is located in one of the hardest hit COVID-19 areas in the country.
“Our hospital family has spent the past few months fighting to help
COVID-19 patients in our community breathe and get just one more gasp
of air,” Dr. Shaaban said. “How tragically ironic that his
dying cry is not only the most dangerous symptom of COVID19, but it has
transformed into the rallying cry of anti-racism protests around the world.”
Floyd died as a white Minneapolis police officer pushed his knee into Floyd's
neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His dying words were, “I can’t
breathe.” Floyd's death has sparked an international movement
with calls for reforming and in some cases defunding police departments,
as well as calling for an end to injustices.
Employees gathered in the Saint Joseph’s courtyard of Saint Michael’s
held hand-made signs with slogans, such as “White Coats for Black
Lives,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Racism is a Public
Health Matter” and “Healthcare Heroes for Black Lives.”
Employees knelt silently for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
"We will kneel because we categorically denounce racial prejudice
and race-related violence," Dr. Shaaban said. "We will kneel
because many of us like myself have children of color and like myself
we want them to realize their limitless potential so they may succeed."
The event had the full support of the leadership of Saint Michael's
along with Prime Healthcare, which purchased the hospital in 2016.
“Recent protests and demonstrations throughout the nation underscore
the importance of our mission of providing compassionate, quality health
care to our communities -- in particular, underserved communities,”
said Elizabeth Nikels, vice president of marketing and communications
for Prime Healthcare.
“Prime Healthcare stands together with our friends and neighbors
against racism, discrimination, and violence of any kind,” Nikels
said. “We take pride in the diversity of our workforce and the differing
backgrounds, experiences, and opinions of our employees. Our differences
define us as a company, as does the respect and empathy we show each other
Dr. Shaaban thanked the hospital and Prime corporate leadership for supporting
the Saint Michael’s family.
“Their support allowed us to unite, come together and send a clear
message to the community we serve that, just as they supported us during
the COVID crisis, we will stand by their side as we fight the public health
crisis of racial discrimination,” Dr. Shaaban said.
Dr. Shaaban said the recent protests reveal more than a “coincidental
correlation” between the viral pandemic and the cruel consequences
of the epidemic of systemic racism, which over the course of our history
has been a major cause of increased illness and deaths.
“The pandemic has amplified the deepening racial disparities in health
care,” Dr. Shaaban said. “Communities of color, like the one
we serve and work with, have been disproportionately impacted by the spread
of the pandemic partly because many of our patients are also ‘essential
workers’ who are often more exposed to the virus because of the
demands of their work and their economic situation.”
“The legacy of profound racism and pervasive discrimination in all
of its forms has been kneeling on the necks and suffocating communities
of color, blacks, Latinos and other minorities and essential hospitals
like our hospital face this frustrating reality every day,” Dr.