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Local healthcare workers participate in White Coats for Black Lives movement

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)- Local healthcare workers participated in White Coats for Black Lives. A national movement aimed at raising awareness regarding racial injustice as well as the brutal circumstances which caused the death of George Floyd.

Around 1 p.m on Friday, the doctors and staff at AdventHealth and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, kneeled in silence for 10 minutes.  

“Our goal and mission as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses is really to ‘do no harm’ and to really save lives. So, we thought that coming together as a community, in a peaceful way, to say, look, these people’s lives matter, these black people’s lives matter,” said Dr. Leila Jerome Clay. 

Dr. Leila Jerome Clay the director of the sickle cell program in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells WFLA.com, that one of the greatest titles she holds, is ‘mom.’ 

“I’m a black female physician and I’m a black mother and I have a black son. I have a black daughter,” said Clay. “I’m really happy that our hospital and administration okay-ed this to say, ‘hey, let’s stand behind all of these black people we take care of every day.’” 

According to the White Coats for Black Lives movement, their goal is to ‘dismantle racism in medicine and promote the health, well-being, and self-determination of people of color.’” Clay, a Haitian native says, in order to advance that message, more black physicians need to be hired industry-wide. 

“I am the only black physician in my group. I take care of sickle cell patients, who if you don’t know, the majority of them are black. So, I feel like I’m often the voice to take away some of the biases, that we may have. So, when I see that the institution took that stance, it really made me proud to work here,” said Clay. “It’s the first step to acknowledging that there are these biases, that we all don’t see every black person the same way. I’m proud that we made that step but there’s still more to do. I think now, the decision is we look at getting more black people in leadership, getting more black physicians to lead the way, hiring more people of color within the institution.” 

Clay, who is also a member of McStuffin Mommies, a group of female physicians of color, says another step in the right direction, is speaking to your children about racism.    

“It was very hard for me to talk to my own children about this,” said Clay. “We have to talk to them. We have to be honest with kids, we have to tell them when something is wrong, it’s wrong. We just have to be open to them. Kids are willing, they’re willing to accept it, to hear it.” 

To learn more about the White Coats For Black Lives movement and their goals, click here.  

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