At 12:00pm on Thursday, June 4, team members at Advocate Aurora Health, one of the five Anchor Institutions of the Near West Side neighborhood, came together and kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to show solidarity with people of color and those out protesting. The AAH Leadership Team, including Carrie Killoran (President of Greater Milwaukee), Keeley Hayes (VP of Nursing Administration), and Alexandra Urrutia-Comas (VP of Operations), sat down with Near West Side Partners Executive Director, Keith Stanley, to talk about the gathering.

Killoran explained that the event was system-wide and occurred somewhat organically across all Aurora sites. At Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where Killoran, Hayes, and Urrutia-Comas work, a “sea of people” gathered in the driveway in front of the hospital. Healthcare workers, team members on their lunch breaks, and even those who were working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic were present at the event– masks and all.

Pictured left: Advocate Aurora team members at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee (photo courtesy of Milwaukee Business Journal)

Team members that could not leave the bedside were invited to take a moment at their work stations to reflect. Urrutia-Comas mentioned that even team members in the cafeteria were able to participate because the Food and Nutrition Services Manager was able to close the cafeteria for a short period of time.

Hayes noted that you could “feel the sincerity” of those who had gathered and that “Sinai is special already, but this really solidifies our uniqueness.” Urrutia-Comas agreed by noting “where you work matters” and it was important to her that her organization took a stance, continues to take a stance, and acts in alliance with its values.

Pictured above: AAH and NWSP teams on a Zoom call to discuss AAH’s Kneeling for Solidarity (from left to right: Carrie Killoran, Keeley Hayes, Emma Hazeltine, Keith Stanley, Alexandra Urrutia-Comas)

Killoran said Aurora’s mission is to help people live well. And while this “relates first and foremost to health, it goes beyond that.” Hayes added that “the first step to resolution is acknowledgement. And acknowledging we have a systemic problem in this country, and not pretending like it doesn’t exist, and calling it out, is the first step toward resolution.”

Thank you again to Carrie Killoran, Keeley Hayes, and Alexandra Urrutia-Comas for their willingness to be interviewed about this important topic.

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