Message from Project Access Northwest Executive Director, Gary Renville.

Today, on this Juneteenth, we start with acknowledging, believing, saying out loud, and screaming to be heard that Black lives matter.

Racism has been around for 400 years. We know it, we understand it, and we see how deadly it is.

The coronavirus is new, and while it is deadly and harmful, it is nowhere near as harmful as racism has been to Black people since the founding of this country.

We have two viruses infiltrating our country: the coronavirus and racism. Each forces us to ask ourselves individually and as an organization how we can be better.

The questions we have been asking include:

  • How do we best serve patients who are experiencing social isolation, fear anxiety, depression and illness, and how can we provide them hope and health care?
  • How do we listen, learn, grow and change amidst a local, national and global reckoning on racism and police brutality?
  • How do we harness yesterday’s declaration by Seattle-King County Public Health that racism is a public health crisis?

Systemic racism permeates everything that we do — whether we are talking about education, a job, access to health care, homeownership, child-bearing … the list goes on and on.

Today we met with our referral coordinators, who help connect patients from community health centers and clinics to our services. Through these partnerships, we make continued progress of our vision that everyone in our community will have access to appropriate health care services. Shout-out to our partners like Country Doctor, HealthPoint, SeaMar and others.

We were honored to have Dr. Kevin Wang join us to talk about our recent work supporting patients at risk of acquiring HIV, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming patients.

Finally, we asked referral coordinators to share thoughts and ideas on what’s working and not working as we try to meet the needs of our patients, our providers, our partners and our community.

If you have feedback for us, please let us know.