A Message From President & CEO Keith Hovan on Current Events

To the entire Southcoast Health family:

I write you today in the hope that my letter will offer our employees and staff a sense of safety and understanding. There is so much to say, and yet at times it feels as if there are no words left to convey our collective grief, despair and outrage. Please bear with me as I try.

In recent decades, Southcoast’s efforts in the region have transcended treating the sick. As you understand as well as anyone, our mission is much More.

We realized long ago that no matter how gifted our clinicians or compassionate our staff, the care we provide cannot be limited to practices and hospital rooms; prescriptions and technological advancements. That we cannot sit back and wait for patients to come to us with conditions and injuries that could have otherwise been avoided with prevention and education – rather, we must be proactive and reach out to all residents in the communities we serve.

During the course of these efforts, Southcoast has partnered with hundreds of area not-for-profit organizations and local businesses. We have been fortunate to build relationships with municipalities, agencies and individuals across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. At the core of this coalition is deep trust, mutual admiration and a shared vision of the South Coast’s future as we address social influencers of health together.

As is often the case with any disease, curing society’s ills starts long before symptoms appear: substance use disorder, obesity, lung cancer, heart disease, even COVID-19 … these and countless other conditions can be traced back to homelessness, hunger, economic injustice, language barriers, a lack of access to quality education and, yes, institutionalized violence.

History, data and our experience as a community health system tell us that these social influencers and the diseases they cause disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). These systemic disparities date back to the founding of our nation and even farther back in the past – but by no means must we accept them as the status quo and condone with our silence the devastation they continue to inflict on families from time immemorial.

Southcoast Health does not accept these disparities, and we will never stay silent amid rampant inequity.

Nor will we stand by and watch the progress that we and our partners – faith and advocacy groups, charities and services, educators and elected officials, family and friends and neighbors – along with many others before us, have worked so hard for be uprooted by those who would perpetuate a slow-moving genocide targeting BIPOC.

The murder of George Floyd and similar recent events, and the ensuing criminalization of our Constitutional right to peaceful assembly in some places around the country, comprise only the latest horrifying examples.

Let me be clear: Southcoast Health, as a leader in this region, is fully prepared to do our part in response. We will listen and learn; share knowledge and ensure dignity. We will work harder than ever to increase access, opportunity and quality of life in our pursuit of improved public health. Together, our community will set the pace while setting an example.

For now, I ask us all to be mindful of our words and actions, while channeling the power of those words and actions in meaningful and positive ways. Do good and promote good.

I ask that we look out for and support one another so that each of us feels secure and protected from racism, bigotry and intolerance.

I ask the Southcoast family, as always, to respect every member, and to seek help if you feel uncomfortable or threatened. Resources include our Diversity and Inclusion Council, our Employee Assistance Program, our Human Resources department and our Compliance department.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for working toward justice, day in and day out – whether through little ways or life-changing ones – no matter how daunting the journey that lay ahead.

Keith A. Hovan
President & CEO
Southcoast Health