Featured Expert:

Dr. Dominic Mack, MPH a professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and the Director of the National Center for primary care.

Dr. Mack is a family physician by trade in the healthcare arena. His role includes leading initiatives in regards to training education, developing programs that touch primary care providers, primary care systems, and federal programs as well as big data research. Mostly his efforts are focused around health equity. “Our mission and Morehouse visions are based on health equity and having equitable health care for all people”.

Addressing health disparities amid a global pandemic, Coronavirus pandemic

As far as disparities, we’ve heard about the disparity relating to the morbidity and the mortality that occurs with the viruses in ethnic minority groups, African Americans in particular, but also other ethnic and minority groups across this nation. The immediate concern is how do we have equitable access to care for testing those populations and hopefully vaccinations to be on board soon. But, also we have pre-existing chronic diseases, during this time, those haven’t gone away. The question is how do we improve the care, even in times of pandemic, not just those who are suffering from acute health problems, but also those who have chronic health problems, all those social determinants that affect our health.

We see now that violence has increased and with increased violence, you get an injury, you get shootings. That affects the health of the community. One of the other things that are set in our model is the social determinants of health are so important when it comes to the health of communities. And they affect transportation, food deserts, things of that nature. Therefore, during times of pandemics, this is exacerbated. Of course, this is not the first pandemic and not the first disaster. If you look back to Hurricane Katrina, and how diverse populations affected diverse communities, it’s the same way with this pandemic. If you have a population of folks, including African Americans, and others, that are unequally impacted during “normal times” when pandemics affect the impact is multiple So that’s what’s happening now around COVID.

Health equity is personal

I was once a teenager and I grew up in an African American neighborhood, in the south. As I grew up, I’ve seen family members have health problems. I’ve had health problems and had to access the healthcare system. And then as a physician, I’ve seen disparities among my patients. I’ve seen it from my personal patient, but I’ve also seen it from other institutions especially in the research that we do, the environmental scans that we do, to how people are accessing health. Lastly, I’ve also witnessed how minority physicians and health professionals are treated in the environment. So, from multiple aspects, achieving health equity personal. It’s inspired me to try to do things to be a part of things that can help with overcoming the disparities.

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This discussion is brought to you by the SOS Council, an initiative driven by the Charles Barkley Foundation & the SynsorMed, in an effort to eliminate healthcare disparities exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.