Tobey Hospital staff join fight against racial injustice

Jun 11, 2020

Staff at Tobey Hospital took a moment of silence in memory of George Floyd, to express solidarity in the fight against systemic racism and injustice on Thursday, June 11. 

Floyd was killed on May 25, after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes. Since then, protests and demonstrations have been organized in all 50 states and many countries abroad.

On June 11, healthcare workers across Massachusetts held a moment of silence for eight minutes, and 46 seconds, the amount of time the officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck. 

At Tobey, a crowd of about 20 hospital staff and Southcoast Health administrators participated by kneeling or bowing their heads, while  holding signs that read “Justice for George Floyd,” and “8:46.” 

Many other hospital employees participated from inside Tobey, since they were not able to leave their work at the time of the demonstration. 

The state-wide demonstration was organized by United Healthcare Workers East. Kim Higgins represented the union at the Tobey demonstration, and spoke directly to the participants. 

After eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence, Higgins addressed the crowd, saying that healthcare workers in this country are currently faced with two public health crises, COVID-19, and racism. Throughout the nation, people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 

She stressed the importance of healthcare workers standing together to take action against racial disparities and inequities in health care and said that “we know that this [moment of silence] is just the first step in making that happen.”

Christine D’Acci retired from her job at Tobey Hospital after working there for 43 years. She said she returned to Tobey to take part in the demonstration because “I feel strongly that Black lives matter,” and that “we can all do better” in the fight against racism. 

Tobey housekeeper Aida Sargo said she participated to show solidarity, and help create change going forward. 

Respiratory Therapist Mary MacLeod also joined the moment of silence, saying that standing against systemic racism is extremely important. 

Keith Hovan, the President and CEO of Southcoast Health joined his employees by kneeling in memory of Floyd. 

Hovan acknowledged that racial disparities exist in the American healthcare system, and that it is important for healthcare providers to “be a voice for those who need to be heard.”