Race, gender, socio-economic status and sexual orientation are all common factors that determine risk in a health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. This public health crisis has exposed large health inequities in many populations, resulting in devastating and even life-and-death consequences.
“During a crisis like we are facing with coronavirus, it becomes convenient to abandon commitments to principals of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “This cannot be allowed to happen.”
As of mid-April, African Americans made up 33 percent of all confirmed cases in Michigan – and 40 percent of the deaths from COVID-19. In addition, the Kaiser Family Foundation has reported that those with a lower household income level are at higher risk of serious illness if infected with the coronavirus.
There are several reasons why these populations are experiencing higher COVID-19 infection rates including underlying health conditions, occupational environment and living situations. There are also barriers to seeking treatment that put some minorities at a disadvantage such as a lack of health insurance and transportation, language barriers and a fear of trust.
Metro Health is educating the community on these health inequities through a video series released today at https://uofmhealthwest.org/covid-19-updates/diversity-equity-inclusion/. Featuring Dr. Booker, these five videos address the important topics of: Health Inequities, Economic Impact, Building a Culture of Equity, Xenophobia and Preparing for the Future. Along with each video are valuable resources for people to continue to educate themselves on the topics.
“Even in the best of times, healthcare does not look the same for all people. It is not equitable. A pandemic shines a bright light on those inequities,” said Dr. Booker. “Metro Health is taking an even greater responsibility and accountability to educate the community on this topic and ensure no one is left behind.”