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Indiana representative pushes for implicit bias training for hospitals

For years, Rep. Robin Shackleford has pushed legislation for mandatory Cultural Implicit Bias and Diversity Training for all Indiana health care professionals.

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana lawmaker wants to create legislation that could make a difference for both patients and health care professionals.

"We've known for years that there needs to be a better relationship between a doctor and a nurse and a Black female when it comes to taking care of them," State Rep. Robin Shackleford said.

For years, Shackleford has pushed legislation for mandatory Cultural Implicit Bias and Diversity Training for all Indiana health care professionals.

She said disparities have long existed between health care providers and minority patients.

"In Indiana, where we have one of the highest rates of maternal mortality –especially among Black women – and poor health outcomes for many of our most vulnerable residents, this legislation is extremely urgent," Shackleford said.

Shackleford's push gained momentum after the death of prominent Indiana Dr. Susan Moore.

Moore posted disturbing video from her hospital bed at IU North in December 2020, saying she was denied treatment and pain medication because she was Black.

Credit: Susan Moore/Facebook
Dr. Susan Moore died after documenting insufficient treatment at IU Health North Hospital.

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In the video, Moore said, "They made me feel like I was a drug addict, and he knew I was a physician."

A review team found Moore's death did not directly correlate to how she was treated.

"But they did decide it wasn't compassionate care," Shackleford said. "And we have to be more caring when we're talking about taking care of Black females and women of color."

RELATED: IU Health CEO responds after Black doctor dies of COVID-19, documenting racist treatment at Carmel hospital

Shackleford said she may now be getting some help from one of the more powerful voices in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris came to the Statehouse in Indianapolis this week for an open forum with lawmakers, outside of the special session discussing abortion legislation.

"I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to ask the VP while she was here, what exactly we can do at the federal level to get this done," Shackleford said.

Harris passed similar legislation when she was California's attorney general.

"She will be willing to help out any way she can and follow up to see how we can we get it done either in Congress or at an executive level," Shackleford said.

The goal is to help create change for all Indiana hospitals.

"With the vice president's help, I hope we can get that movement," Shackleford said.

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