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See that homeless person that you always step over and ignore? This time, if you ignore his health...you may be sacrificing the good health of you and your family as well
NEW YORK, NY, April 13, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- For the nearly 330 Million Americans confronted with the coronavirus, under served communities and the middle class will have the greatest exposure to the pandemic based on institutionalized norms in poor communication, how they view and how they receive healthcare.
The American dynamic on healthcare statistics surrounding the marginalized, poor and even many segments of the middle class has been well documented. From shocking maternal mortality rates to infant mortality, diabetes care to heart health and cancer survival, it's always been a tale of two distinctly separate Americas--- with countless communities struggling with healthcare equity pre-coronavirus.
Unfortunately, that shameful narrative is nothing new. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a distinct shift in the paradigm in how the average American can look at those without privilege.
Even with such a ferocious global pandemic at hand, access to trustworthy communication channels is an issue for many communities in America. There is a palpable void in communication very much the same way there's a void in more tangible resources like better schools. I proselytize that if we want to bend the curve, we have to first bend human behavior through effective communication.
Hurricane Katrina is a great example in how people with even the most basic privilege view the poor, segments of the middle class and their lack of access. One of the most frequent things said out of ignorance after the hurricane was 'They were told to leave, so why didn't they just go?' But for those who have real world experience in working with these communities, we know that the more intelligent question to ask is; go where? With what money, what car, what gas money and what food? And stay in what hotel? Renting what U-Haul or van to fit their family in? And last but not least, accomplish some of those things with what credit card? It's also a powerful example of how telling someone to do something is just a tool and not a meaningful solution to most real problems. Something that I teach in my basic and advanced communications course.
The lack of basic understanding within many elements of leadership to administer effective community engagement that impacts behaviors and leads to better healthcare (and overall) outcomes is staggering. Sadly, those failures are normally just written off like bad debt.
But the difference is, this time, the plight of the marginalized can't just be written off and siloed as 'those people over there'. With COVID-19, if there's poor community engagement and ineffective communication solutions, the virus will spread to not just "those people over there", but to other communities that quite frankly, normally wouldn't really care about the community that's being decimated. This pandemic doesn't discriminate the way that systems and the people who promulgate those systems do.
See that homeless person that you always step over and ignore? This time, if you ignore his health and fail to help him, you may be sacrificing the good health of you and your family as well. When it comes to COVID-19, there can be no more "those people over there in that community" kinds of mentality anymore. Because by caring for the under served, literally, the life you save, may be your own. As a result, the rich and privileged will be tethered to the poor like never before in the annals of American History.
If this experiment in time succeeds, then not only will we more quickly win the war against the coronavirus and save countless lives---but perhaps accidentally in the process, it will cause more of what has been called "the least of us ", to not be ignored for the first time in our history. Which could eventually turn to twice, three times and more. Creating a new chapter in humanity and how under served communities are normally cared for in America and the world for that matter.
I am an optimist, but I doubt that it will change the system of marginalization and poor healthcare outcomes for good. But I do believe that many, who are in need of care and a tender touch will finally receive it. Perhaps for the first time in their lives. Therefore, in the midst of all of our pain and suffering through these difficult times, I still see a glimmer of hope and something positive.
My parents always taught me that "It's always good when 'those people over there' suddenly becomes you." So, I guess it's a start.
About the author: Solomon Carter leads Emory Healthcare's Physician Group Practices, Patient Financial Services, Office of Professional Development. He also serves as the Executive Director of All Power in His Hands Christian Mission which is a mission/aid organization that operates in Haiti. His work is inspired in part, from his work in Haiti during the cholera outbreak. He is also the architect of the COVID-19 Communications Pallet for Government Leaders, Policy & Healthcare Professionals. The pallet is a mainframe designed to streamline and systematize communication to provide cities and states with greater resources and uniformity in the war against COVID-19. To learn more about it, you can go here: https://youtu.be/GngZK4qhSXM
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