Major downtown institutions come together to address race equity and institutional needs

St. Anthony’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg have committed to using their economic power to improve the well-being of surrounding neighborhoods and communities. Pictured, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg President and CEO Randall H. Russell

ST. PETERSBURG — Three major downtown institutions are joining with the City of St. Petersburg to embrace shared, collaborative, and intentional practices focused on moving the needle on race equity.

“The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg introduced the idea to these institutions who developed this historic focused effort on their needs coupled with the aspirations of a healthier community by race,” Foundation President and CEO Randall H. Russell said. “The leadership shown by these entities fundamental to a healthy community advances race equity forward with their focused intent.”

In addition to city government, the St. Petersburg Anchor Institution Initiative’s inaugural members include St. Anthony’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. All three institutions have committed to using their economic power to improve the well-being of surrounding neighborhoods and communities.

The outcome is explicitly directed at improving race equity, impacting the economic well-being of residents, and contributing to transforming neighborhoods and communities. It is also likely that the anchor institutions will experience cost savings, a steadier workforce, and enhanced data enabling smarter approaches to improve population health.

“Race equity is required to reach health equity. These leaders have taken a bold step to improve the health of our entire community,” Russell said.

This initiative comes as awareness is growing about how systemic bias in institutional and government decision-making over the centuries has resulted in communities being denied many of the opportunities afforded to other neighborhoods. That systemic racially focused bias has led to worse health outcomes for many in these communities after sustained underinvestment that shapes the social determinants of health. Evidence of this reality is that just blocks south of these hospitals, life expectancy at birth is 16 years less than two miles north.

“Intentional equity is at the core of my administration’s priorities in everything we do. It is not enough to be equitable; we must also be intentional, said Mayor Ken Welch. “I’m pleased to support and participate in the St. Petersburg Anchor Institution Initiative aimed at just that. The participating businesses employ thousands within our city’s workforce, and they set an example for all businesses to ensure fair and accessible hiring practices and equitable access to health care services.”

John Moore, president of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, is also extremely pleased to partner with like-minded organizations on this initiative.

“Serving as an Anchor Institution is especially meaningful to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, which has served the community for more than 100 years. We are excited about how this collaboration dovetails with our own ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. We look forward to the positive results that will stem from it,” Moore stated.

“At St. Anthony’s Hospital and BayCare, we believe in continuous improvement, and that includes doing better for and by our community,” said Scott Smith, president of St. Anthony’s Hospital. “We’re excited to join with our health care colleagues and the city to develop new, more inclusive ways of serving our community to support racial equity and build a brighter future for our entire city.”

As a leader in children’s health and the top-ranked children’s hospital in the state of Florida, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital understands the critical need to work with others in the community and find ways to eliminate racial disparities and improve access to both basic and specialized pediatric care, particularly in some of our most vulnerable areas.

“As an Anchor Institution, it is important for us to bring together the resources to enhance the safety, nutrition, health care, and access to these services in order to improve mental and physical health for families in our community,” stated Alicia Schulhof, M.H.A., F.A.C.H.E., president of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg fueled a learning partner, Marga, Inc., to bring knowledge from across the country into developing this effort.

“The proximity of these four institutions makes St. Petersburg a prime location to initiate an Anchor Institutions Initiative. The intention is to move health equity forward through a focus on race equity. We look forward to the next steps of this fantastic partnership modeling cross-sector collaboration to bring about positive change,” said Russell.

David Maurasse from Marga, Inc. added, “The St Petersburg Anchor Institutions Initiative is a monumental development that has rapidly taken shape. The participating institutions have demonstrated extraordinary readiness and willingness to collaborate and adapt their systems and thinking toward the well-being of local residents with a race equity lens.”

The institutions will continue to be convened by the Foundation as they form a structure, hire staff, and move forward with the launch of this effort. The St. Petersburg Anchor Institution Initiative efforts will continue finalizing plans in 2022.

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