Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on the death of Earl Moore Jr.
COMMUNITY AND FAITH IN EQUITABLE CARE SHAKEN
This week, our community learned of the tragic death of Earl Moore, age 35, of Springfield Illinois. According to the Sangamon County Coroner’s Office, Mr. Moore died from “compressional and positional asphyxia due to prone face-down restraint on a paramedic transportation cot/stretcher by tightened straps across the back.” While SIU Medicine was not involved in this incident or Mr. Moore’s care, we acknowledge the impact of this tragedy on our community.
Mr. Moore’s obituary states that he was a son, a brother and a grandson. He was a graduate of Lanphier High School, a manager at McDonalds for more than 18 years, and a lifelong member of our Springfield community. As a physician, I am horrified that this death occurred at the hands of those who were called to help. Even as county officials charge two EMTs for first- degree murder, we know that there will be no true repair to the harm that was inflicted on Mr. Moore and a community still wrestling at the intersection of race, trauma and trust.
SIU Medicine has worked hard to strengthen and build trust within our community. We have brought attention and focus to the work of building relationships with those who have been historically marginalized, displaced and oppressed by health systems and organizations. The death of Earl Moore Jr. from asphyxiation while in custody of the health community will again challenge this critical work. Trauma again will be experienced by people in our community as they hear of this tragedy and watch the body cam footage. This will erode trust.
Physicians take an oath to do no harm, and every health care worker commits themselves to caring for and protecting the health and wellbeing of others. Mr. Moore’s death at the hands of health care professionals who were summoned to help him shatters that oath and commitment.
It is important to remember that harm can be both active and passive. Passive harm occurs when we witness violence and say nothing. Statements of condemnation are a first step in interrupting further harm. This is a way that we collectively name the injury and call out the behavior that led to it. Statements like this and others that will be made in the days and weeks ahead are only the first step. They must be followed by meaningful and sustained actions to build greater equity and to rebuild trust in the healthcare system in our community.
About four years ago, Dr. Kruse declared that SIU Medicine would embark on the work of becoming an antiracist institution. The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will continue its unrelenting work of antiracism, equity and justice. We will continue to care for our community and build trust through community outreach and forums on health inequities. We will continue to build on our internal antiracism and anti-oppression work through expansive antibias trainings, trauma-responsive leadership development and culture change in response to the needs of our community, patients, students, residents, faculty and staff.
We stand ready to support health care workers across the community who are seeking resources and training to address historic and present harms within our community. We ask that you please support our community and join the family of Earl Moore Jr. in mourning his death.
Wendi Wills El-Amin, MD