Racism in Healthcare
Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; How Racism in Healthcare. In Beyond Primary Care blogs I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is an insurance free, membership based family medicine and addiction medicine clinic. Beyond Primary Care is the only Direct Care clinic serving patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County giving families and employers peace of mind with healthcare costs by providing affordable, accessible, and authentic primary care services.
The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being.
In this blog post, I wanted to update my patients and any prospective patients on important discussions to have anytime, but especially now and that is:
Racism in Healthcare
Black lives matter. Black lives matter to us as physicians, community members, and more importantly as fellow humans. I acknowledge that the medical system has repeatedly treated the African American community in ways that lead to unacceptable health outcomes.
Race is a social construct used to separate humans based on the amount of melanin- the amount of pigment- in their skin. We see racism on the other end of the melanin spectrum as well, when individuals produce little or no melanin- a condition called albinism. Race is one of many societal constructs that have systematically oppressed and marginalized groups of people including but not limited to:
- The most visible at this time, the African American community
Data demonstrates that African American women and infants have increased rates of death in childbirth. African Americans have lower life expectancy. More recently African Americans have been disproportionally killed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is due to many factors. We recognize that healthcare workers carry implicit biases that affect the quality of the care they provide, oftentimes unconsciously. In the past, there have been more blatant racists efforts undertaken by the healthcare system,- the Tuskegee Syphilis Study being an egregious example of such shortcomings.
While in medical school, I actively participated in small group sessions aimed at recognizing and addressing medically underserved populations. Accessing basic needs is difficult for minority populations- people like:
- Migrant farm workers
- Prison populations
- Individuals struggling with substance abuse and addictive behaviors
- Individuals lacking financial and medical literacy
- People without safe and affordable housing, etc..
All of these scenarios contribute to poorer health outcomes that affect minority communities the hardest.
The Point Of This Blog Post
One of my favorite medical educators- a Jack McFarland doppelganger- use to tell me and everyone:
“There are no mistakes, just educational opportunities.”
In the spirit of “Dr. Jack”, please do interpret this post as a way to place blame or to shame any group of individuals into defensive posture, but to elevate the discussion surrounding the increasing permeating manner that racism is affecting, and will continue to affect large parts of our community.
Moving Towards A Better Future
We recognize that racism exists. We also recognize that we, the people of Ann Arbor, greater Michigan, and this great nation must unite together to form meaningful solutions. Beyond Primary Care is committed to doing our small part by continuously pushing the status quo of healthcare to become more inclusive and more mindful of the catastrophic financial effects our current healthcare system has on those who are most vulnerable.
It’s small, but it’s what we can do well and what we promise to do for those in our care.
Thank you for reading.
– Dr. Jeff O’Boyle with Beyond Primary Care