The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine (NASEM)'s Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness hosted a webinar in late January on “Serious Illness Care, Structural Racism, and Health Disparities in the Era of COVID-19”. Moderated by Brittany Chambers with speakers Karen Bullock, Zara Cooper, Dara Duncan, and Jeffrey T. Garland, the discussion uncovered the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic and structural racism have affected communities and clinicians of color. As research shows, structural racism directly contributes to the socioeconomic divides, which in turn affects health outcomes.
“The socioeconomic status influences housing conditions, accessibility of good nutrition, quality of education, employment opportunities, occupation type, ability to work from home, access to healthcare, use of public transportation, and it goes on and on,” said Dr. Cooper. “In fact, intervening at the level of healthcare, it’s too late. We really haven’t laid the foundation to really take care of these people.”
Panelists also shared about known models helping to address health disparities, such as the work of faith-based organizations, as well as the importance of collecting race, ethnicity, and language data to affect change in treatment and vaccination rates.