Racial disparities in health care due to factors such as unequal access to health insurance, income inequality, and bias in the health care system have long been known.
These inequities have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color that frequently face high-risk working and living conditions.
As New Jersey proceeds with reopening plans, there are opportunities to incorporate measures to improve health outcomes for minority groups and to address social determinants of health more broadly. Equity actions being examined include:
- Prioritizing vaccine administration (when available) for at-risk communities;
- Incorporating racial equity metrics and firsthand input from groups acutely affected by COVID-19;
- Expanding telemedicine especially when personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply;
- Implementing community-based local contact tracing programs.
On July 29, NJ Spotlight and NJTV News convened a virtual roundtable with health care leaders, public officials, and administrators to explore how progress can be made toward alleviating racial inequities in health outcomes as New Jersey recovers from the pandemic.
Michellene Davis, Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health
David A. Ansell, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Associate Provost for Community Affairs, Rush University, Chicago
Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr., MD, Chair, Health Committee; Member, Appropriations and Science, Innovation and Technology Committees, New Jersey State General Assembly; Director, Burlington County Health Department
Shereef M. Elnahal, MD, MBA, President & Chief Executive Officer, University Hospital
Denise V. Rodgers, MD, FAAFP, Vice Chancellor for Interprofessional Programs, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; RBHS Chair in Interprofessional Education, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Lilo H. Stainton, Health Care Reporter, NJ Spotlight