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Voices for Change: UCSF and GLIDE Collaborate to Address Racial Disparities in Healthcare

Rabbi Michael Lezak in deep dialogue with Men-In-Progress, shedding light on healthcare disparities.

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, a pioneering healthcare institution, is always looking for ways to resolve the disparity in healthcare. Their commitment to inclusivity and dedication to dismantling structural racism is evident through their partnership with GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice’s (CSJ) Men-In-Progress program (MIP).   

Over the past 18 months, CSJ has collaborated with UCSF’s Department of Hospital Medicine in meetings at UCSF’s Center for Health Equity to discuss ways of improving healthcare practices and addressing racial health disparities within communities of color.   

On Wednesday, August 27th, 2023, GLIDE held its second MIP cohort to discuss structural racism in healthcare. Rabbi Michael Lezak, GLIDE’s Social Justice Director for the Center for Social Justice, orchestrated this profound listening session (funded by a generous grant from the Robert Johnson Foundation) and facilitated by the global design firm IDEO for the MIP participants to share their stories. 

The session focused on recognizing and addressing healthcare disparities, aiming to delve deeper by seeking solutions and fostering meaningful dialogue. Each male participant received a Visa gift card to acknowledge participation and input.   

“San Francisco should open up more detox centers which will provide jobs and save lives,” said Jamien Johnson, a MIP cohort member. “It’s essential that we can voice our desires to change the healthcare system, given the historically strained relationship between the medical professionals and people of color.” 

Johnson reflected on how compassionate healthcare can be transformative and how a medical doctor in his recent past made an incredible difference during his recovery and rehabilitation. “When I recovered, went to rehab, and this particular doctor remembered me…I felt valued and cared for.” 

“My gratitude extends to UCSF and Rabbi Michael Lezak for integrating Men in Progress into this crucial dialogue by carving a path for their voices,” said Saundra Haggerty, GLIDE’s Violence Intervention Programs Manager and the coordinator of MIP. “I’m optimistic that these dialogues will lead to impactful changes in our healthcare system.”  

With the invaluable support of the grant, GLIDE has been able to share a vital space with the MIP participants. This environment enabled them to voice their experiences, revealing the profound healthcare challenges people of color face. Their feedback on accessing medical care in San Francisco is being shared with the medical staff at UCSF.

By presenting these firsthand accounts, we afforded UCSF professionals an unparalleled perspective into these systemic disparities. Our proactive initiatives in collaboration with UCSF, fortified by this grant, serve as a mirror reflecting these issues and as a beacon, guiding us toward the formulation of impactful solutions.