For those of us who survived 2020, many clung to optimism as we looked forward to 2021. The nation witnessed an insurgence on the capitol then a peaceful transition in leadership. The COVID-19 vaccine offered the promise of some return to normalcy and interacting with friends, family and co-workers again. Continued efforts to protect the essential workers, fight for social justice and police reform has re-invigorated both grassroots efforts and national policy changes.
On the heels of the Derek Chauvin trial, the country still grapples with how to keep police accountable for their actions, while simultaneously confronting other police shootings of Ma’Khia Bryant, Andrew Brown Jr. and others on the same day of the verdict.
Reede Scholars nationwide have risen to the challenge of confronting health equity as it relates to new surges of the pandemic, access and acceptance of the vaccine and discussing racism as a public health issue.
As we look forward to this year's 12th Annual Health Equity Symposium, entitled Policing Reform and Public Health we will take a deep dive into the history of policing in this country, current policies and innovative solutions to address the issue.
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Deploying To A Hesitant Community Near You: ‘Trusted Messengers’
Joseph Betancourt, chief equity and inclusion officer at MGH, acknowledged it’s an “uphill battle,” since messengers must counter more than mere hesitancy about the vaccine.
“There’s a history of racism, discrimination, medical experimentation, segregation, issues related to immigration, mistrust, you know, language barriers, difficulty engaging or understanding health care providers. For all those reasons, we believed and understand it's important to engage our communities of color around the vaccine,” Betancourt told GBH News.
Betancourt said MGH and the other hospitals within the Mass General Brigham health care network are now deploying about 140 caregivers of color across the state through social media town halls, question-and-answer sessions and appearances alongside the hospital’s outreach van in hot spot communities.
The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) announced Wednesday that it has recruited its first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
Dr. Roderick King, a physician whose career spans more than three decades, will join UMMS this summer.
He is now the CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation and Senior Associate Dean of Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
King told WYPR that it’s a little early to outline specific goals for his new role.
“The first step would be to kind of understand what's already going on within the health system,” King said. “Next is then trying to get really a good working operational definition of what we mean by diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Another one of his priorities will be reconnecting with Baltimore. An alum of Johns Hopkins University, King left the city in 1987.
He says while the city has changed a lot, it still grapples with a long history of medical institutions abusing communities of color. That history, he says, can be a catalyst for change.
“For me, this is an exciting time to leverage some of the historical contexts in Baltimore and the Maryland area to really tackle some of these issues,” King said.
King said diversity, equity and inclusion is not just his official work, but also his lifelong passion.
His father, a graduate of Howard University and a family practice physician, and his mother, both dedicated their lives to fighting health inequities.
They set up their practices in Brooklyn, NY, where King said he witnessed communities of color struggling with a rise in health issues and youth violence.
“I grew up with that environment,” King said. “And I'm looking forward to building on that legacy, because it's part of who I am, and really what I've tried to do with my career over the past 30 to 40 years.”
King said this past year may mark a turning point in the way medical institutions address racism and bias within their own institutions.
For example, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately harmed Black Americans, and has made more Americans aware of the country’s deep racial inequities.
“That's just another reminder. In addition to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many other African Americans,” King said. “And now we're seeing some of the hurtful, anti-Asian attacks that are happening across the country.”
King believes the country is ready for change.
“And I think the health systems are well poised to really be a major leader in this area, and to really catalyze this change that needs to happen within our communities,” he said.
Dr. Marshala Lee is a board-certified family medicine physician, the director of the Harrington Value Institute (HVI) Community Partnership Fund at ChristianaCare, and the director of the HVI Translational Research Internship. She also serves as the lead physician at Shortlidge Academy’s School-based health center and is a founding member of ChristianaCare’s Physician Diversity Alliance Employee Resource Group, where she supports efforts to strengthen community partnerships, mentors premedical students from underrepresented backgrounds, and develops new models of patient-centered health care that address the social determinants of health.
In Dr. Lee’s current role, she created a gap-year internship program and MCAT-prep training program for students from underrepresented backgrounds in Delaware. She also has mentored more than 50 students from underrepresented backgrounds. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Lee has led efforts to provide personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccines to underserved communities. Dr. Lee has presented on a number of panels and published several papers that highlight the importance of workforce diversity, health equity, and racism/bias in medicine. Dr. Lee works effectively with local communities, legislators, state leaders, and national society leaders to enact policy change to address health disparities.
Congratulations to Reede Scholar, Kimberly Chang
UCSF is honored to award Dr. Kimberly Chang the 2021 UCSF Alumni Humanitarian Service Award. This award recognizes an alumni who has made a transformative contribution to their local community, the nation, or the world helping make it a better place through noteworthy, positive change to the human condition through healthcare and science. In the eighteen years since graduating from UCSF, Dr. Chang has spearheaded a movement and effectively created systemic change to address human trafficking (HT) as a healthcare issue.
Current Fellows, Magdala Chery, DO MBS and Shelly Dionne Taylor, DMD named
2021 National Minority Quality Forum “40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health” Award Recipients.
Annually, since 2016, NMQF has selected 40 minority health leaders under the age of 40 who have been leading the charge to better patient outcomes and build sustainable healthy communities. These leaders are clinicians, patient advocates, researchers and policy makers. Despite the unexpected trials in health care in 2021, these 40 leaders persevered in strengthening their communities and reducing health disparities.
Reede Scholar, Rhea Boyd, featured in the New York Times
Black People Need Better Vaccine Access, Not Better Vaccine Attitudes
The focus on “hesitancy” as the driver of lower Covid-19 vaccination rates misses the real problem, and opportunity.
Reprinted: Opinion, The New York Times, March 5, 2021
Despite having one of the highest risks of dying from Covid-19, about twice that of white Americans, Black Americans remain one of the least vaccinated racial or ethnic groups, with data showing that only 5.7 percent have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Many are quick to blame “vaccine hesitancy” as the reason, putting the onus on Black Americans to develop better attitudes around vaccination. But this hyper-focus on hesitancy implicitly blames Black communities for their undervaccination, and it obscures opportunities to address the primary barrier to Covid-19 vaccination: access.
Access matters. A closer look at the data reveals that when Black people are given the opportunity, they do get vaccinated.
After the federally funded Vaccines for Children program eliminated cost as a barrier to vaccine access for children in the 1990s, racial disparities in vaccination rates narrowed significantly. Since about 2005, Black children are just as likely to have received the recommended M.M.R. and polio vaccines as any other children, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the vaccination rates of children are, in part, a reflection of their parents and caregivers’ attitudes about vaccines, then it suggests that Black caregivers generally support vaccination.
Another study looking at flu vaccination in Detroit showed that among Medicare Part B recipients (people who have a health care plan that covers many vaccines) Black adults 65 years and older are just as likely to accept the flu vaccine as white adults, if their health care provider offers it to them.
Even now, during the pandemic, survey data has shown that interest in Covid-19 vaccination is increasing among Black adults. Sixty-one percent of Black Americans say they plan to get a Covid-19 vaccine or have already received one, up from 42 percent who said in November that they planned to get vaccinated, according to new data from Pew Research Center.
As many as 27 percent of Black Americans in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey still say they may decline Covid-19 vaccination or only get it if required, and as many as 37 percent say they will “wait and see.” But those sentiments must be considered alongside evidence of gaps in Black people’s access to information about vaccines. In another recent study, 41 percent of Black adults reported knowing “little or nothing” about how vaccines are created and tested, and 30 percent reported knowing “only a little or nothing” about how vaccines generally work.
To fully expand access to Covid-19 vaccines, health care must name, challenge and eliminate the anti-Black racism that continues to place vital health care services just beyond Black Americans’ reach. This includes access to health insurance, access to a health care provider, access to credible information about vaccines and convenient access to vaccines.
At each of these steps, Black health care workers are leading the way. In Philadelphia, Black health workers are running walk-up vaccine clinics that don’t require appointments made online or over the phone. Health workers in Oakland have built a testing site that doesn’t require any personal documentation to receive a test. Black health workers and I am disseminating credible Covid-19 information online and through social media.
As a Black physician, I know from experience that Black people are some of the most sophisticated and discerning health care consumers in the country. This comes from necessity. Many Black Americans need not resurrect the ghosts of the Tuskegee experiment to recall a moment in which they’ve endured medical mistreatment. As KQED recently reported, researchers say Tuskegee rarely comes up when Black people share concerns about Covid-19 vaccines. Rather, issues like racism in health care and safety concerns are cited much more often.
Ultimately, while the standards of care in the United States are exceptional, and among the highest in the world, it is important to acknowledge that anti-Black racism keeps the health care system from systematically applying that high standard to Black people. For example, just as surgeons don’t prepare patients for surgery by simply saying, “Just trust me, I’ll see you in the operating room,” when it comes to acceptance of Covid-19 vaccination, the U.S. health system should stop engaging Black communities by asking for their blind trust. Black people deserve to make this important medical decision like all other patient populations, equipped with the access they need to insurance coverage, reliable care, credible information and actual vaccines.
Rhea Boyd, M.D., M.P.H. is a pediatrician, public health advocate and scholar who writes and teaches about the impact of racism and inequity on health. She co-developed a national campaign to provide Black communities with information about Covid-19 vaccines.
Reede Scholar, Kim Rhoads, featured in the New Yorker
What the San Francisco Bay Area Can Teach Us About Fighting a Pandemic
The region’s hyper-local response has lessons for us as we confront the winter wave and begin to distribute vaccines.
Kim Rhoads, a cancer researcher and associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at U.C.S.F., and Kevin Epps, a community-outreach coordinator and documentarian—he is known for his 2003 film “Straight Outta Hunters Point”—brought to Havlir’s team an intimate knowledge of the southern neighborhoods of San Francisco, as well as a wide range of contacts, built over decades, who could spread the word. “If you don’t have community buy-in, there’s always going to be a level of distrust that makes these things almost impossible to run,” Rhoads told me. Over the course of a week, Epps executed what he called a “guerrilla marketing campaign” in District 10, which includes Hunters Point, Bayview, and Sunnydale. “This was door-to-door, posters, putting it out on social media,” Epps said. “I even was out on the corner with a bullhorn.” Epps combatted rampant misinformation. “Early on, a lot of Black people had heard they couldn’t get the virus,” he said. “Even more didn’t want to sign up for testing because they heard Google was running it and thought all their information was going to get stolen.” (The testing sites run by Havlir and her colleagues used Chan-Zuckerberg BioHub/U.C.S.F. labs; Verily, a research organization that is operated by Google’s parent company, runs most of the testing in the Bay Area.) “They’ve all known me for years,” Epps concluded. “That got through some of the trust issues.”
Addressing these issues requires a redirection of our collective attention. Our society has a habit of ignoring essential workers and the indigent elderly; we readily scrutinize the behaviors of the able-bodied and the financially comfortable but look away from the settings where risk and suffering are placed on the most vulnerable. “The public has this blind spot about essential workers,” Rhoads said. “If you can shelter in place, and there’s no real threat to your family, you have no real impetus to look at the problem for what it is. Someone has to keep the essential work going so that other people can stay home and program algorithms for Google. And as long as you don’t acknowledge that the real problem is that some people get to stay home while others need to go in to dangerous jobs or basically starve, you don’t have to do anything to fix it. You don’t have to look the actual problem in the face, and the zero-sum game of capitalism can just keep rolling along.”
Health outcomes in this country continue to be sub-optimal between Americans and compared to other developed countries. Join us as we speak with Health Equity Experts & Leaders to discuss innovative approaches to narrow the gap and improve the quality of life for all.
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The Office of DICP helped launch our “Social Hour“, an hour where current Fellows and Reede Scholars can meet, connect, mentor, and Fellowship with one another. During these trying times of social distancing, the Social Hours were a welcomed virtual get together.
As life gets back to the previous norm, we will continue the quarterly social hour to connect Fellows with alumni as a means of developing bonds. Having an avenue to stay in touch throughout the year also engenders greater participation among Reede Scholars.
Feedback from Fellows and Scholars has been positive. “It was good, very helpful”, stated Shelley Taylor, a current Fellow. Topics varied from pearls of wisdom regarding the annual practicum presentation, to advice on how to negotiate future contracted positions.
If you would like to participate and have not received notification, please add Thomas Dichter, at thomas_dichter@hms.Harvard.edu to your contacts to assure email delivery.
Dr. Joan Reede participated in Harvard Medical School's STAND AGAINST RACISM held on April 23, 2021
A big thank you to those who have already submitted dues!
Reede Scholars Executive Leadership
President: Mary E Fleming, MD, MPH
Secretary: Nicole del Castillo, MD, MPH
Treasurer: Don Lee, MD, MPH
The REEDE NEWS quarterly newsletter seeks writers, contributors, and an assistant editor.
Our newsletter captures the accomplishments and special recognition of our members. Highlighting these events, for historical documentation and preservation, is an important function of our organization. If you are interested in being a part of the REEDE NEWS NEWSLETTER team, please contact us at: email@example.com.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH), the Minority Research Grant Program (MRGP) announced a notice of funding opportunity for researchers at minority-serving institutions (MSIs).
The funding opportunity allows researchers at MSIs to build their portfolios while funding studies pertinent to the health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities, rural residents, people with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, and the LGBTQ community. Two awards will be made to one or more eligible institutions.
Review the notice of funding opportunityCMS-1W1-21-002. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, June 11, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Positions Available : Tufts University School of Dental Medicine seeks candidates for the position of Chair in the Department of Public Health and Community Service, at the Associate Professor or Professor level.