The Swetland Center is proud to promote the work of our very own Jennifer King, PhD. This article was originally published online on First Year Cleveland's blog.
Defined as part of a population that is different from others [...] often subjected to differential treatment.
As members of African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latin(x) communities, we may face an uneven playing field of economic, social, and environmental factors or disadvantages that often put us at greater risk of experiencing health disparities that present as a chronic disease (pre-existing conditions including asthma, diabetes, obesity, hypertension), lowered quality of life, and even lowered length of life. For example, residents of Cleveland's Hough neighborhood live nearly 24 fewer years than their neighbors in Shaker Heights who are less than 7 miles away.
As we recognize National Minority Health Month, it is important to acknowledge the impact of pre-existing conditions among minority groups, which is on full display with the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis. Celebrities including Beyoncé and Colin Kaepernick are using their platforms to shine a bright light on the disparities experienced by our communities on a daily basis, which is producing the highest death rates among those who may only account for one-third of the area's total population (learn about the Know Your Rights Camp response to COVID-19). In particular, members of the African American community are disproportionately testing positive and dying from complications of the virus.
Take an active role in your own health
Though we know that in time, updates from the COVID-19 taskforce will end, and mandates for social and physical distancing will be lifted, it remains essential that we take an active role in our health and well-being, especially when the future of health care will be forever changed. Whether we engage with providers through continued telemedicine or return to traditional appointments, let's take a moment to consider how to be advocates for our own health after COVID-19:
- Keep a list of your medical questions and concerns in a notebook or your phone
- Firmly address any questions and concerns you may have during each appointment (see this sample appointment format that can be customized to your needs)
- Trust your gut – if something doesn't seem "right," you are entitled to get a second (or even third) opinion
Most importantly, the key to advocating for your health is having confidence in the strength and impact of your voice. Our ancestors have moved mountains through song, chant, and mantra – it is our duty to continue moving their legacies forward by making sure we are healthy enough to do so.
To learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting our most vulnerable communities, please visit The COVID Tracking Project.