Medical professionals call for health care, social equality
Published in Thomasville Times-Enterprise | Pat Donahue | June 15, 2020
THOMASVILLE — Medical professionals and others gathered at the Thomas County Historic Courthouse on Sunday afternoon to call for an end to disparities in health care and justice.
The event, “White Coats for Black Lives,” brought to light inequities for blacks in health care and in the justice system.
“So today we stand in unity, we stand in solidarity, we stand together to make it better for all of our lives and our future generations to come,” said event organizer Dr. Linda Walden. “Black lives matter no matter who you are, where they’re from. What happened to George Floyd reflects the burden of being black in America.”
Said Dr. Brittany Crenshaw, “In the more recent years, and with the advent of social media, the daily occurrence of racial injustice and inequality has been displayed for all to see. Black people have endured the repeated trauma of injustice on a daily basis.”
Blacks make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, Dr. Walden noted, but their rate of contracting COVID-19 far exceeds that. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s statistics, positive cases among blacks are almost equal to those of whites.
“Yet, we have the most cases when it comes to COVID-19 and all these other diseases, diabetes, hypertension,” Dr. Walden said. “We’ve got to do something more. As physicians, we have to end these health care disparities. We need to make sure they are getting their tests done, they are getting their medicines. And we have to hold patients accountable too.”
Former Cairo mayor Booker Gainor, now a candidate for the state Legislature, called for the expansion of Medicare in the state. He also pointed out the state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.
Dr. Coy Irvin, who is Archbold Medical Center’s chief medical officer, added that health care disparity is a huge problem.
“And it begins with education,” he said. “It has to do with poverty, obesity, nutrition, how I do get post-op care, how do I get a ride to the doctor. They go home and they don’t have the support they need.”
There are other changes to be made, Dr. Walden and other speakers pointed out.
“When I think about all of what my people have gone through for 401 years,” she said as she turned emotional, “and it hasn’t gotten any better. Even as a physician. You would think it would have stopped by now.”