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UPDATE: Gov. Whitmer requires all state health care workers to undergo implicit bias training

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced she is making a plan to combat racial disparities among infection rates of COVID-19 between white people and people of color.

On Thursday, July 9, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-7, essentially requiring all health care workers in the state of Michigan to undergo implicit bias training.

Her office said as of July 5, Black Michigan residents represents 14% of the state population, but represented 40% of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in cases where the race of the patient was known.

“COVID-19 is over four times more prevalent among Black Michiganders than among white Michiganders,” the governor’s office said.

The order directs the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) “to begin developing rules that will require implicit bias training as part of the knowledge and skills necessary for licensure, registration and renewal of licenses and registrations of health professionals in Michigan,” according to the governor’s office.

The governor’s office said implicit bias training was one of the recommendations the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities made.

“There’s no doubt that our front line health care workers like doctors and nurses have been the real heroes of this crisis, putting their lives on the line for us every day,” said Whitmer. “COVID-19 has had a disparate impact on people of color due to a variety of factors, and we must do everything we can to address this disparity. The evidence shows that training in implicit bias can make a positive difference, so today we are taking action to help improve racial equity across Michigan’s health care system. That’s why my staff has begun this kind of training and every member of my team, including me, will complete this type of training on an annual basis.”

“The existing health disparities highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic have made it clear that there is more work to do to ensure people of color have the same access to the same quality of health care as everyone else,” said Lt. Governor Garland Gilchrist II, chair of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. “By providing awareness to health care workers on how to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, we can help them carry out their mission of providing the best health care to every patient they serve.”

The governor’s office said the National Healthcare Disparities Report found that white patients received a higher quality of care than Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and Asian Americans.

“People of color face more barriers to accessing health care than white people and are generally less satisfied with their interaction with health care providers,” the governor’s office said.

“There is no question that our healthcare workers have risked their own lives and saved countless others during the COVID pandemic,” said Khaldun. “But the fact is that implicit bias exists, and studies show that it can have an impact on health outcomes. Every healthcare professional should be trained in implicit bias so that we can make sure everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, has access to the highest quality care.”

“This is an excellent step in the right direction, I applaud our governor for addressing this issue and as Chair of the Board of Medicine, I stand ready to work with our board members and the Administration to establish implicit biased training for physicians,” said Micheal Chafty, MD, Chair of the Michigan Board of Medicine.

Under the executive order, LARA is required to consult with necessary stakeholders in the medical field, state government and other necessary officials by Nov.1 2020 to help determine goals and concerns under the new rules outlined in the order.

The full executive order can be viewed here.

The full press conference can be watched here:

LIVE: Gov. Whitmer presser on COVID-19

LIVE: Gov. Whitmer provides update on state's continued response to COVID-19.

Posted by WILX News 10 on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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