Page 15 - Scene Magazine 45-09 September 2020
P. 15

  For Your Health
BY COURTNEY SMITH, PA-C, DayOne Family Healthcare
    specific to black Americans, and make recommendations for what we as citi- zens, patients, and healthcare providers can do to cause change. In this article, my use of “we” will refer to all citizens, and my use of “you” will refer to my black Battle Creek neighbors. I believe that black health is important, and this article is dedicated to helping find ways to improve your health.
I think that encouraging inher-
ent racial bias training for healthcare professionals would be a great place to start. I also think we should help more black students to become healthcare providers. Mentorship, scholarships,
and favorable admissions processes at universities could all be important steps to bolster the number of black physicians and healthcare providers in general.
As citizens, supporting initiatives that improve access to healthcare would help more black Americans establish a strong relationship with a primary care provid- er, which could reduce premature disease and death.
We should all dream of and make plans to create a future where no racial group
is so starkly disadvantaged. Hopefully Battle Creek can become a healthy place for black citizens and neighbors through
a combination of improved racial equity training for healthcare professionals, ele- vating black men and women to become healthcare professionals, and building strong community relationships. What if Battle Creek became the healthiest place for black Americans?
The healthcare inequity affecting
our black neighbors is widespread and affects all ages. We know that black Americans suffer from hypertension, diabetes, and strokes at earlier ages than white individuals1. We also know that young black Americans (age 18-49) are twice as likely to die of heart disease than white Americans1. Black Americans are more likely to die earlier than white Americans of all causes1. There are several variables that contribute to these disparities; most of these variables are socioeconomic. Centuries of racism and discrimination have un-
doubtedly left this pop-
ulation in a vulnerable
socioeconomic position,
and it’s literally killing
them. Black women
are two to three times
more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes
than white women2. When
cared for by white physi-
cians, black babies are three
times more likely to die in the
hospital than white babies3.
Although the disparity shrinks
when black physicians cared
for black babies, black ba-
bies have more than twice
the infant mortality rate
than white babies4. There
is undoubtedly a problem
in healthcare-delivery to
black Americans, and we
1 https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aahealth/index.html 2 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-
racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html 3 https://www.pnas.org/content/eary/
2020/08/12/1913405117
4 https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/
browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=23
5 https://medlineplus.gov/africanamericanhealth.html
With more re- cent attention to the systemic oppres- sion and subse- quent disadvan- tages facing black Americans, I want to highlight some health problems
as healthcare providers and citizens need to be part of the solution.
Ask if your healthcare provider should be more aggressively treating your medical conditions. Ask if you are due for any routine screening, such as blood work, Pap smear, mammogram, or colonoscopy.
In Support of Battle Creek’s Black Community
So what can you do to be a good advocate for your health? Finding a healthcare provider you trust would be a great place to start. If you’re looking for a new primary care provider, ask your family, friends, or coworkers if their healthcare provider does an excellent job caring for them. A great healthcare pro- vider should take into account all aspects of what makes you unique, including your ethnicity. When you sit down with your primary care provider, I urge you
to ask questions; it may save your life. Ask if your blood work results have been interpreted correctly and adjusted for your ethnicity. Common measures such
References
as kidney function and hemoglobin A1c may need to be adjusted for black men and women5.
Ask if a recommended medication will affect you
differently because you’re black. For example, some common blood pressure
medications do not
work as well in black men
and women
as in white individuals.
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