How Insurance Works

What Covid-19 Disparities Mean To Black Doctors & Nurses


I had one shift where
I saw about 84 patients. The first 21 days, we had to
work consecutively without an off day. These are 12, 13-hour shifts. You know, I did seven days in a
row of 12-hour shifts in an ICU that’s all Covid patients. That’s definitely a huge shift from
my usual world of gastroenterology. So I was the first
faculty doing that Covid week. All of our patients ended
up being Covid-19 positive. Some of those patients ended
up passing away, unfortunately, but we had to keep on moving. I’ve been working as a primary care
doctor over the last four years now. This is certainly the wildest thing
any of us has seen. Typically, we see very diverse
racially and socioeconomically patient population. And it was interesting because I
mentioned to our staff a few weeks ago, I said, “Do you notice that more
of our patients coming in, they look like us?” And everyone
said, “Oh, absolutely.” Historically, African Americans and other
minorities, such as Hispanics, have disproportionate numbers of hypertension,
diabetes, high cholesterol. These things are hard and challenging
to manage on their own. They also weaken the immune system,
weaken the ability to heal. Unfortunately, those diseases tend to track
with structural and systemic factors around the country, and those include
lower income, lower rates of employment, lower rates of access to insurance. When you put a crisis on top of a
crisis, these communities are going to do the most poorly. The patients that I noticed that didn’t
do too well, they were actually the patients who are obese, who had a BMI,
a body mass index, greater than 30, 35. Those were the patients that we
saw who needed the ventilators. They needed machines to
help them breathe. Diabetes is unfortunately 60% more common
in African Americans than in our white counterparts. The risk of diabetes is higher due
to issues around diet, due to issues around treatment of other chronic conditions
that worsen diabetes, such as obesity. You know, really getting through
to people of color, especially elders, in regard to their
diet is definitely challenging. You know, they grew up eating the
scraps of food, you know, the portions of food high in
salt and high in fat. I know from growing up
in Detroit in a low-income family that when you have to feed
your family, buying fresh fruits and vegetables is not
necessarily affordable. And so, if you’re turning to the
calorie-dense foods, you’ll get your family fed. Unfortunately, what comes with that,
though, is obesity and diabetes and high blood pressure. Food deserts really influence
the way people eat. If you don’t have access to the
green vegetables or the healthy fruits, unfortunately, you’re going to be more likely
to buy the chips, the soda, the processed foods and increase
one’s rates of diabetes. We started seeing more black and brown
patients over the last few weeks, and some of them were essential workers, they
didn’t have the luxury of working from home. And we saw less white
patients or patients that could work remotely from home. It was, as
I said, incredibly striking. Right now we know that there are still
states, for example, that did not expand Medicaid to be able to ensure
that the lowest income Americans, who unfortunately in our society tend to be
from black and brown backgrounds, have access to insurance. We know there are about 27 million uninsured
in the country right now, and a much higher proportion of those
individuals are black and Hispanic. We’ve had a number of patients come in to
our urgent care at the front desk and asking if you know, how much they will have
to pay, how much do they have for the visit, how much they have to
pay if they were to get testing. So these are real concerns and absolutely
a barrier, especially for people who are undocumented and who
don’t have insurance. Many people don’t know how to advocate
their health because maybe they’ve not had the resources or they’re not
comfortable going to the doctor. So, yes, you see that they’ll show up
when things are so bad, you know, they’re knocking on death’s door
for lack of better words. Workforce diversity, we know, is one
of the solutions to addressing racial health care disparities. And the fact is that, especially
among physicians and nurses and other healthcare professionals, our numbers are quite
low when you compare our numbers in the U.S. population. So if you were to ask
me, you know, overall, is it diverse here in terms of the
physician population, I’d say to a degree. In terms of diverse, in
terms of a large number of underrepresented minorities? I would say no. Me,
I’m the first African American advanced endoscopy fellow here,
period, you know? And it’s… you know, I
started this fellowship in 2019. We’re in 2020 now and to say
that I’m the first African American advanced endoscopy fellow here
is really mind-blowing. Yale does an excellent job of
really trying to recruit minorities. It’s just, you know,
it’s a slow process. You know, when you’re in the healthcare
setting, it’s already a scary and trying time to begin with. When you don’t see anyone that looks
like you, that can be even more concerning. And so I’ve definitely seen that
time and time again where patients are just so excited to
see another black doctor. And actually, you know, they will go out
of their way to to find a black doctor. When you go into the room and
then you say, you know, “I’m Dr. Campbell,” you just see a lot of times
their face just lights up with this pride and it’s like, “Wow, I’m just really
happy to see you here as a physician.” I think it makes all the
difference when you can see someone who looks like you. You know, the patients are just, as
you can imagine, more receptive to what you’re saying. I feel that there’s
even a sense of ease or calm that might not be there otherwise. Growing up, it was quite normal
for me to see loved ones and family and friends dying in their
’40s and ’50s and thinking that that was normal. As I got older
and went off to college and so forth, I came to realize
that, no, that’s not normal. Those are disparities
and they’re avoidable. People who have been doing this work,
we knew that these disparities existed, and we knew that this pandemic would
only worsen or even just expose these inequities. And so what I’m hoping
is that, you know, that this horrible, terrible time, this basically
nightmare that we’re in, actually something good comes out of it. And that good would be for public
health officials, for government officials to really think about how we can prevent
this from happening in the future.


Reader Comments

  1. Respect to each and everyone, who is working while the rest of humanity is trying to keep themself safe. Love and thanks to each of you. ❤️

  2. I will never understand American media’s obsession with skin color. Why can’t someone just be a “doctor”? Why do they have to be a “black doctor” or “white doctor”?

  3. A lot of respect to those in the medical field, but why does there needs to be a segment about race and skin color?

  4. Let’s continue to talk about why this is and work on ways to prevent this in the future! Food deserts, systemic and infrastructural racism! I love this video to proved insight!!

  5. Stop making this a race issue. All different nurses and doctors are treating people. It does not matter what they race is.

  6. I was in Jersey City medical center for 6 weeks with this covert 19 virus I like to thank everybody that the hospitals were saved my life also you have to fight if you want to live.

  7. America doesn't deserve to be called things like "the free world" or " the greatest country " and all other self proclaimed titles, you have a long way to go to reach the level of social equality and democracy that exists in countries like Denmark and Singapore.

  8. What does race have anything to do with this 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

  9. Why is it that people always throw a fit when black people's issues or achievements are highlighted? Without fail they'll pop up on some "Whhhhat about us. Why is everything always about race?". You don't understand what it's like never seeing any positive representations of your people available.

  10. Thank you for this segment.

    For all those who continue to ignore this and sit in your white privilege and white rage on why this was even produced: 🖕🏾

  11. Another reason why universal health carw works. Doesn’t matter on the colour of your skin or how much you make. Everyone gets the same treatment. God bless Canada 🇨🇦

  12. Each day each of you wake up and walk into the flames. You don’t complain and are on the front lines.
    Most people died because they did not have healthcare and did not want to go to the hospital.
    Thank each of you . 👏🏼👏🏼🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

  13. Supply vs demand… Obviously there's a shortage of black American health industry professionals, against a persistent demand for the services from their American families who have shorter life expectancy than any other racial groups of Americans. The most fundamental economics justifies paying these professionals much more than others providing the same services.

    Thanks CNBC for being courageous enough to tell this story.

  14. Seeing a doctor who looks like me is so true! I get excited whenever I see a black doctor. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare where I live in California. This is one of the reasons for me relocating to a different state. We definitely need more black health care professionals.

  15. they are doctors and nurses…not black or white, respect everyone equally. when you are dying no grammar is going to help you

  16. Whahahahaha I guess there’s only black people on health care. Don’t promote racism we all the same race human race

  17. WE NEED MORE BLACK DOCTORS! And we need Hispanic doctors as well, working in a hospital that works with members of a poor community we need doctors who can relate to these patients

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