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Mayo Clinic pledges to 'close the door on racism'

Ceremonial reopening of the Plummer Building doors launches $100 million, 10-year initiative to end racism and promote health equity.

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Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, left, and Chief Administrative Officer Jeffrey Bolton, right, open the Mayo Clinic Plummer Building's closed doors as part of an announced commitment to end racism at Mayo Clinic Thursday, July 30, 2020, in downtown Rochester. Mayo Clinic kicked off a $100 million initiative to end racism within Mayo by ceremonially closing the 4,000-pound bronze doors on Wednesday afternoon. There are only 11 documented times the doors have been closed, including on 9/11, in Mayo's history. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
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In the wake of turbulent months of protests and social unrest in the U.S., Mayo Clinic made a commitment to be part of the solution and strive to end racism and promote health equity with a new $100 million, 10-year initiative.

CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia and Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Bolton ceremonially opened the historic Plummer Building doors on Thursday and announced the anti-racism campaign at Mayo Clinic . The symbolic closure on Wednesday was only the 11th time the massive, 4,000-pound doors have been closed in the past 92 years.

Farrugia told the sparse crowd of masked spectators and the virtual audience of Mayo Clinic employees watching online that racism in the U.S. “has caused immeasurable harm.” For the country and institutions like Mayo Clinic to “reach their full potential,” that overt and systemic racism needs to end.

Bolton emphasized that this project requires action by all of Mayo Clinic’s 70,000 employees.

“To be successful, we need each staff member to be all in against racism,” he said.

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While some general goals of the new program were listed, specific details are still being worked out by Mayo Clinic leaders.

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Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia speaks during event outside the Mayo Clinic Plummer Building to reopen its closed doors as part of an announced commitment to end racism at Mayo Clinic Thursday, July 30, 2020, in downtown Rochester. Mayo Clinic kicked off a $100 million initiative to end racism within Mayo by ceremonially closing the 4,000-pound bronze doors on Wednesday afternoon. There are only 11 documented times the doors have been closed, including on 9/11, in Mayo's history. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

“We believe the three shields — education, research and practice — need to partner together. Those leaders are getting together to say not only what are the specific actions we’re going to take, but what outcomes do we expect, and how, specifically, do we measure it,” said Roshy Didehban, Mayo Clinic’s chairwoman of Practice Administration and a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors. “That’s what we think is most critical that we get really clear on how we are going to measure those outcomes. All of those materials will ultimately be tracked by our board of governors that we were actually making measurable progress towards the metrics we’ve identified.”

Didehban added that this push against racism within Mayo Clinic is one of the Board of Governors’ top strategic priorities.

Some of the general goals listed include:

  • “Increase diverse recruitment of investigators and clinical trial participants to strengthen Mayo Clinic's research mission, using an additional allocation of $3 million per year.”

  • “Increase recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses and supervisors from underrepresented groups and build an inclusive environment for staff, learners and patients, using an additional allocation of $5 million per year.”

  • “Leverage digital and telehealth technology to improve equitable health outcomes across the nation.

  • “Address conscious and unconscious racism within the organization.”

  • “Invest in increasing the diversity of our patient population, with a particular emphasis on patients from the Black community.”

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The Mayo Clinic Plummer Building's doors are closed as the area is readied for an event as part of an announced commitment to end racism at Mayo Clinic Thursday, July 30, 2020, in downtown Rochester. Mayo Clinic kicked off a $100 million initiative to end racism within Mayo by ceremonially closing the 4,000-pound bronze doors on Wednesday afternoon. There are only 11 documented times the doors have been closed, including on 9/11, in Mayo's history. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

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