Armed with a new study showing low percentages of African-Americans working in or getting contracts from local hospitals, the state NAACP is exploring filing a class-action lawsuit.
State NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile and New Haven chapter President James Rawlings, the state organization’s Health Committee chair, discussed those plans in an interview with the Independent.
They pointed to results of a newly “Economic Reciprocity Initiative Healthcare Survey.”
Based on statistics from 2009 and 2010 provided by 25 Connecticut hospitals, the survey found few blacks and Latinos on boards of directors and low percentages at most levels of employment, from nurses to doctors. The study found African-Americans represented at “above-average” rates in the lowest-skilled jobs at hospitals but otherwise as low as 2.4 percent to 6.7 percent of the director, nursing, and professional ranks. Meanwhile, according to the report, only 12 percent of Connecticut hospitals have training programs aimed at racial minorities.
Click here to read the study and view breakdowns by individual hospital. (Also see four charts with sample results posted in the body of this story.)
Perhaps the most noticeable figure: Out of more than $5 billion hospitals spent statewide with vendors, a mere $500,000 went to black businesses.
“Our community suffers when we don’t have economic equity,” said Rawlings, a former Yale-New Haven Hospital administrator. Besides the loss of potential jobs, he argued, those purchasing practices can even hurt people’s health: If people don’t have jobs, they often lack insurance. “Or they have Medicaid—which is almost like no insurance. Nobody takes those cards.”
Esdaile noted that the survey showed the UConn Health Center spending a grand total of $30,000 out of $1.2 billion in purchases on a black contractor. A plumber.
“It was during the Christmas holiday. They couldn’t find anyone [else] to do the job. They gave him $30,000,” Esdaile remarked.
“Can black vendors deliver crutches? Can black people deliver wheelchairs? Can black people deliver cotton balls? Flowers and balloons in the gift shop? Computers? TVs?”
Here in New Haven, Esdaile observed, “Yale-New Haven is right in the Hill section. [The former] St. Raphael’s is in the Dwight community. All of the major hospitals in the state of Connecticut are in our communities. They are huge economic engines” and have “ostracized us.”
Esdaile said the NAACP has begun consulting with attorneys about filing a class-action lawsuit seeking aggressive action by hospitals to improve minority recruitment, hiring, purchasing, and leadership policing.
One of those attorneys is New Haven legal-aid lawyer Alexis Smith, former president of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association (named after the city of New Haven’s first African-American corporation counsel).
Smith said attorneys are at the “very early stages of looking at this.” She said any potential legal claims would probably be made under Title VI and Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act. The argument would be that hospitals receiving federal dollars “have certain requirements” in its hiring and other practices.
“We are disappointed that Scot Esdaile is considering a lawsuit,” responded Michele L. Sharp, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Hospital Association, which represents the institutions covered by the NAACP study.
Sharp called the study an outdated “snapshot in time.” She argued that hospitals have made dramatic strides since the time period covered by the study. The CHA has formed a “first in the nation” “diversity collaborative” to look at minority hiring and purchasing. She pointed as well to a committee on “supplier diversity” that has held four forums over the past four years. (CHA provided the video at left about the latter effort; click here to read about the most recent event.)
Twenty-eight hospitals across Connecticut has assigned over 150 staffers to the diversity collaborative’s work, Sharp said. CHA has worked with American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management, the Hispanic Health Council, the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, and the NAACP on the effort as well, she said.
“Connecticut hospitals, like hospitals across the country, have as their mission to provide quality equitable care to all patients. We recognize that across the nation and in Connecticut, health disparities and low levels of hospital workforce diversity in general and among hospital leadership have been troubling and persistent issues,” the CHA stated in a release responding to the NAACP report.
The collaborative launched on Oct. 25, 2011. The data revealed in the NAACP report covered 2009 and 2010, Sharp noted. She said hospitals have also made gains in minority hiring since that time.
Esdaile said he looks forward to finding out about that. The NAACP—which he said had to fight, with the help of the governor’s office, to get hospitals to fill out the original survey—is planning to send out a new survey to chart what progress has been made.
posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on August 19, 2013 12:53pm
Purchasing: “Here in New Haven, Esdaile observed, “Yale-New Haven is right in the Hill section. [The former] St. Raphael’s is in the Dwight community. All of the major hospitals in the state of Connecticut are in our communities. They are huge economic engines” and have “ostracized us.””
And…I haven’t seen too many businesses in these neighborhoods that could be considered “vendors”.
How about redirecting your time spent researching this potential lawsuit by volunteering time in the communities mentioned to help the good people with the knowledge needed to start businesses? Then Yale will be able to source locally.
Recruiting: “Esdaile said the NAACP has begun consulting with attorneys about filing a class-action lawsuit seeking aggressive action by hospitals to improve minority recruitment, hiring”:
Fighting for equality but asking for special departments? I’m confused.
On having more racial diversity on boards, developing “leadership policing.” Now this is something that would be good. It would reflect on the hospital’s desire to be racially diverse. Things happen from the top down afterall.
posted by: robn on August 19, 2013 12:58pm
Good luck with that. The US Census says that CTs pop is @10% African American which means that most large hospitals have double that in AA employment.
posted by: Walt on August 19, 2013 1:58pm
Was in St.Raphe’s Campus recently for a new hip
Really did not want and did not get a Doctor or nurse from affirmative action programs,
NAACP is right if fully -qualified candidates do not get hired because of race, but that must be proven. Otherwise this is just sour grapes.
posted by: Perspective on August 19, 2013 3:05pm
“Armed with a new study showing low percentages of African-Americans working in or getting contracts from local hospitals, the state NAACP is exploring filing a class-action lawsuit. State NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile and New Haven chapter President James Rawlings, the state organization’s Health Committee chair, discussed those plans in an interview with the Independent.” Lets see the study that indicates the number of qualified employees that were “overlooked”. I also find it amazing that some businesses are considered ‘black’ businesses. What exactly is that? And dont give me the “owned by a black person”, because my next question is what is your definition of black?
posted by: westville man on August 19, 2013 3:56pm
Robn, The correct figure as of 2012 is 13.1%, if you are going to quote your source!
What these charts do not show, and I opin is a critical consideration is rates of minority hire compared to the number of available minorities qualified.
posted by: westville man on August 20, 2013 8:30am
Robn, I now see that you mean to quote CT only, not the country, so i now understand your 11.2% though I’m still surprised you would use 10%. My mistake on the 2nd part and apologies. But I think if you look at the demographics near the hospitals, instead of statewide, we might get a better perpective on why the numbers are skewed. The closer one lives to the hospital, the more likely in the pool of potential employees.
YNHH and St.Raph’s AA employment is between 20%-25%
In any event, the local numbers aren’t what the NAACP is griping about…they’re contemplating filing suit against hospitals statewide.
(On a personal note: I do find YNHH and STR’s AA nurse numbers to be surprisingly, shockingly low. Would love to see data on nationwide and state AA nurse graduation rates to see if there’s a correlation)
posted by: Walt on August 20, 2013 9:22am
Both hospitals are for the region, not the City or neighborhood or only adjacent streets as you imply
Financing for the hospitals is City-wide, region-wide, Statewide, plus federal and used to include religious funds too,
With what I read about the N.H. School System, the closer you limit hospital employment to only the areas surrounding both N.H, hospitals, the less likely you are to find qualified applicants for good jobs, although some would undoubtedly exist
I was directly involved with the original Black Coalition and its Board of Directors. At that time ( a heck of a long time ago) the NAACP was a sensible, active organization always balanced as was its director, the late Bob Bowles , (although it was from Bob that I received admonitions as I had never heard of the then new concept of favoritism via affirmative action ) with goals of course favoring its main constituency
Now it seems mainly centered on getting headlines and seems more radical and sometimes could fairly be described as racist
If they have a pool of qualified applicants who have been turned down by the hospitals, they should produce it and probably sue.
Otherwise it is just more B.S. to be ignored
posted by: robn on August 20, 2013 9:28am
Found an interesting blurb in the JBHE.
In 2002, Blacks were 8 percent of all students enrolled in entry-level bachelor’s degree programs in nursing. By 2006, the Black percentage of total enrollments reached 12.1 percent, but has since declined to 10.3 percent.
YNHH and STR numbers don’t look out of line if (IF) the absorption rate of graduating nurses is slow. Dunno.
posted by: westville man on August 20, 2013 10:00am
Thanks for that Robn. And Walt, I agree with you on some points and not others. But suffice it to say that I believe that both Scott X, and the attorney they may eventually hire, know they have to produce the evidence of racism. It wont be simply percentages. But I ask that you think about this- if Goodspeed Opera house or the Guilford Emergency walk in were nearly completely staffed with Black workers: 1- would the good folks of those communities question it? and 2- would they assume the white applicants werent qualified? I find we whites cry “reverse racism” if its us getting shut out and point to the issue of qualifications if it’s Blacks that are.
posted by: Edward_H on August 20, 2013 5:58pm
Walt : Love reading your comments!
posted by: Edward_H on August 20, 2013 6:03pm
I am a American who happens to be Black and the NAACP I read about in history books is a far cry from the NAACP I read about in the news today. Where the NAACP I read about while in school was a respected organization at the forefront of fighting for equality for all today’s NAACP seems to concentrate on making up fake controversies in order to get their name in the media. People who spew the following nonsense get no respect or money from me.
The NAACP and the KKK are the same to me, relics of the past that need to be thrown in the dustbin of history.
posted by: Walt on August 20, 2013 10:26pm
posted by: Walt on August 21, 2013 9:29am
You may be right re your opinions on NAACP lawyers, but my guess is that the threat of suing the hospitals is just the usual tactic ( Like Revs Sharpton and Jackson on the national scene) of bullying big organizations which are overly sensitive to public relations, into making major concessions, not because of facts, but just to stop continuous negative comments in the press, which unduly bug the big-wigs of the corporations involved,
Just conjecture by both of us.
Let’ look at it again in a few months and see who is right—-did the NAACP really produce facts and sue or did the hospital honchos negotiate some special deal just to keep the NAACP off their backs
My bet is some compromise, no suit, and both sides will either claim victory or just fade away.
We shall see.
posted by: Art Vandelay on August 22, 2013 9:16pm
I’m a charter member of the NAAWP. I’m contemplating filing a lawsuit against the NFL and NBA for the disproportionate number of the people I represent in these professional organizations. Get my point!
posted by: A Contrarian on August 23, 2013 1:22pm
The Entitlement/Resentment/Diversity Industry must be about as big as the Military-Industrial Complex by now.