New U of M study reveals more disparities in pandemic health
DETROIT (WXYZ) – Data from the University of Michigan shows people of color have a more than 50% chance of being readmitted to hospital within 60 days of discharge.
Valerie Williams, a resident of Farmington Hills, is still struggling with symptoms of COVID-19 a year later.
“It’s emotionally draining,” she adds.
Since receiving COVID-19 last summer, Williams has been in and out of the hospital three times. She was just in the ER two weeks ago.
“The severe asthma and other respiratory issues that we all think are related to this COVID experience,” says Williams.
She is one of many black COVID-19 survivors who are resisting hospital after being released according to a new student directed by Dr. Sheria Robinson-Lane and her team at U of M.
“Our big discovery that we found was that there wasn’t as much medical follow-up as you might expect after infection with COVID-19,” Robinson-Lane said.
The assistant professor and her team examined health disparities in more than 2,200 COVID-19 patients discharged from Michigan hospitals. Black patients experienced the poorest medical follow-up.
“I think racism plays a role in the way people are seen, treated and received medical care,” adds Robinson-Lane.
Williams tells us she never received a follow-up call.
“I thought it was really weird that no one called me,” she adds.
Dr Ijeoma Nnodim Opara says health inequalities lead to readmissions.
“We know that the way our patients are 100% discharged has an impact on health outcomes,” said Dr. Opara.
She is also the director of health, equity and justice in medicine at Wayne State University.
Dr Opara believes black patients should receive fair and safe care in order to prevent them from going to the hospital.
“Appointments cannot be made on behalf of the patient. We cannot ask ourselves if the patient has the resources he needs, whether it be transport or childcare, ”she adds.
Another result of the study? Black patients experience the longest delays in returning to work.
Robinson-Lane says some employers don’t adapt to their recovery needs, which can often force people to work even if they’re not licensed.
“I have had patients who have been seriously ill and still try to negotiate with me to get them home, so they don’t have to take time off work,” Opara tells us.
Researchers say this data, including underlying health issues, is another reason communities of color should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“COVID is much more dangerous than the vaccine,” adds Robinson-Lane.
Doctors say it’s also time for healthcare systems to take responsibility
“To examine our processes, our policy or the practices of our employees, the cultural norms of our healthcare system. Are they really fair and just? Do they express value for the lives of black people? ” she asks.
His advice to patients and families is to stand up for your interests.
Click here to access COVID-19 resources for caregivers.
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