In tenth COVID-19 response call, Congresswoman Kelly hears about healthcare disparities

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information provided by the Office of Robin Kelly

MATTESON, Ill. (April 21, 2020) – While limited data released so far show a clear and shocking trend in COVID-19 among African Americans, it is not surprising, said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. Kelly is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and she held a conference call with young, frontline healthcare workers who provide services in high-risk communities.

“The trend simply highlights health disparities that have tragically existed for generations,” said Kelly. “By hearing from healthcare leaders on the frontline, Congress can work to better target resources immediately while working to address these disparities to prevent future disproportionate impacts on at-risk communities.”

Participating healthcare professionals raised several strategies to address racial disparities in healthcare outcomes, including the need for targeted prevention materials for low-income communities, communities of color and non-English speakers; providing access to and insurance coverage for COVID-19 testing as well as providing access to personal protective equipment (PPE). They also pointed out the need to expand telemedicine into communities of color and examine the long-term impact of COVID-19 on asthma and lung disorders, and the role of racism in COVID-19 death disparities.

Participants in the conference call were drawn from the National Minority Quality Forum’s (NMQF) 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health Awardees, a nationwide network of more than 100 young leaders working in American communities to address health disparities.

“Through our 40 under 40 program, NMQF has worked to build a national network of experts, researchers, and providers working to end health disparities. As this pandemic continues to highlight long-lingering healthcare disparities, we can leverage this network to understand the reality on the ground and craft better policies to address the disproportionate number of deaths being experienced in communities of color,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, president and CEO of NMQF.

The conference call was the 10th in Congresswoman Kelly’s series of virtual meetings with constituents concerning the pandemic. Previous calls were held with local elected officials, small business owners, first responders, farmers and school superintendents. Kelly will be speaking with 2nd Congressional District educators on Tuesday, April 21.