CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Dr. Tracy Downs, UVA’s Chief Diversity & Community Engagement Officer, says COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of color.
“We’ve always said that race was an individual variable linked to disease or lack of health,” said Dr. Downs.
He says that racism, low socioeconomic status and being uninsured are the true roots of the greater impact on African Americans.
dr. Max Luna, director of the Latino Health Initiative, says the problem extends to the Latinx population.
“In the central Virginia area, less than 50% of the Latinx community has access to primary care and people had to be referred by their primary care physician to get a COVID test,” said Dr. Luna.
He says UVA intervened quickly to resolve this in the early stages of the pandemic.
“UVA performed early-stage COVID testing without the need for a doctor’s referral,” said Dr. Luna.
They both say UVA Health is focused on equity and inclusive practices to encourage vaccine skeptics to roll up their sleeves
“We know trust has been a challenge in all parts of this country and Charlottesville is definitely in that equation too, so having someone you trust and often for African Americans, someone from a similar background can be helpful in someone taking that decision to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Downs.
The representation goes a step further for people who do not speak English. By bypassing language barriers, you build a level of trust with patients.
“We’ve seen that our colored doctors and color nurses are somehow able to either speak in less jargon or in a relational way that allows one to process and make their own decision,” said Dr. . Downs.
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