Health Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan

An Update on the Covington & Burling Assessment, From Dr. Jeff Sperring, CEO

August 9, 2021


I’m writing to share that the Hospital Board of Trustees voted to release Covington’s Detailed Recommendations and 11 Finding Statements resulting from the assessment of Seattle Children’s efforts to combat racism and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. The board heard your feedback that this was needed to realize Seattle Children’s vision of becoming an anti-racist organization. This decision also aligns with the Assessment Committee's request.

I am grateful to the Board for making this decision. You will see a public statement shortly from Board chair Susan Betcher to share this news with patients and their families and the community.

I’ve heard from many of you that more information and detail was required for Seattle Children’s to implement meaningful change, show respect to those who shared their personal experiences with Covington, and to identify and bridge gaps in our current anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion goals and policies. We also recognize that we must honor our commitment of confidentiality for those who participated.

This assessment made clear that Seattle Children’s has not lived up to the standards and the values we set for ourselves. As your CEO, I commit to you we will do better, and this work is my top priority. We must collectively challenge and continue to change the culture, structures and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism in our organization.

I am resolved as the leader of this organization to drive that change as we start addressing the findings and recommendations. The Board completed its process and, as CEO, I will now take on Covington’s call for Seattle Children’s to “lead the way” and ask each of you to join me in the work ahead.

Today, we are also announcing members of the internal Task Force who were nominated and invited to work directly with Seattle Children’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to create an action plan to address Covington’s findings and recommendations. We are grateful to these leaders for their commitment to this work. The Task Force represents a cross-section of the organization, and its members have the right expertise and experience to ensure the work achieves its objective. Even after finalizing the action plan it is our intention to continue seeking feedback and incorporating and iterating as we move forward.

ELT looks forward to sharing the details of that plan by September 1. We recognize this will be the starting point but know that the plan will evolve based on your feedback. We are also committed to providing public-facing outcomes to track our progress. We have asked Covington to stay engaged with us and assess our progress to assure that our changes are consistent with what they heard from you, our patients, families and community. I acknowledge that we cannot truly deserve your trust and that of patients and families if we are not able to show meaningful progress consistently and continuously.

Seattle Children’s is committed to this work not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because the work of dismantling systemic and institutional racism in healthcare is critical. This is our responsibility, and l expect to be held accountable for results.

As always, thank you for your unwavering commitment to our patients, families and each other. Your support for this effort is essential and truly appreciated.