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Strong Hospital Ethics Committee calls for end to special treatment of wealthy individuals

Members of Strong Memorial Hospital’s Ethics Committee are calling for an end to “programs of special privilege” at the University of Rochester Medical Center.More than 20 faculty, staff, and community members signed a letter sent to University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf and URMC CEO Mark Taubman calling for the elimination of the Executive Health and Special Patient Relations programs. Those programs provide exclusive and extensive care to wealthy patients.

In the letter, dated Feb. 2, committee members expressed dismay that university donors were allowed to access a vaccine clinic meant for employees. The vaccination effort was run through the medical center’s Executive Health Program. WXXI News broke the story last week.

The letter stated, in part: “Programs, such as Special Patient Relations, perpetuate a two-tiered health system where those who are wealthy, and predominately white, enjoy unfettered access to health care while across the city and the region, countless others struggle to find access to the most basic levels of care. This type of preferential treatment also demonstrates a callous indifference to the larger social reckoning around issues of racial justice that define this cultural moment. These programs represent the worst of who we have been, not who we claim to want to be.”

Signatories also expressed their support for UR student demands, which include equity in vaccine clinic locations and distribution, data transparency, and the elimination of programs of special privilege.

Below is the full letter.

Mangelsdorf and Taubman have not replied to a request for comment. 

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.
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