By Josephine Reid – There have been more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 in Georgia during the pandemic. The Metro Atlanta Chapters of Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated, along with Atlanta Councilwoman Andrea Boone and The Fulton County Mobile Vaccine Unit, rolled up their sleeves on Saturday, February 5 to serve metro Atlanta families and contribute to ending racial disparities when it comes to health and vaccine access.
The Stay Well Health Fairs, presented by the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, have been held across the United States over the last few months. These events make room for Black doctors, mostly female, to serve as trusted messengers and be accessible for Black residents in each community. The Atlanta drive-through event, held at the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center, gave residents the free opportunity to get COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone 5 and older, as well as booster shots, flu shots, health resources, and access to a panel discussion with local trusted Black healthcare professionals.
Atlanta is the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King, who called for justice in healthcare. In 1966, Dr. King said, “Injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.” His words still hold weight as we witness the disparities of Black people throughout this pandemic.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who challenged the prejudice that prevented African Americans from pursuing careers in medicine became the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1864.
“I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others,” said Crumpler.
In current day, Black female doctors such as Dr. Samira Brown are working to bridge these gaps and are making Women’s history on the cusp of Women’s History Month. Dr. Brown, a Cobb physician who is a widely respected pediatrician in Atlanta, participated in the Stay Well Atlanta event and spoke more on this topic.
“We’re working really hard to make sure we have representation in terms of having more doctors of color. The Cobb Institute is critical to that. In my training, the Cobb Institute was so helpful to me, and it’s so meaningful to be in a position where I can help other [people of color and women] not only obtain an MD, but then also give quality care and really advocate and stand up for our community. Unfortunately, COVID is yet another health disparity and we have a lot of work to do in the United States, so it is definitely an honor to participate in any way that we can in terms of turning those health disparities around,” said Dr. Brown.
Research suggests that patient-provider racial and gender harmony can have many benefits. A black female patient receiving care from a black female doctor has more trust, better communication and shared medical decision-making. In addition, studies indicate that racial and ethnic minority physicians are more likely to practice primary care and serve in underserved communities than their white counterparts.
In less than a year, the Stay Well events nationwide have vaccinated more than 1,000 people in predominately Black neighborhoods so far.
Local doctors and trusted messengers in Atlanta and beyond are working to bridge the gap to get accessibility, truthful information, and health resources to communities that need it most.
“We want you to come out [to the Stay Well Health Fair] to make sure that you’re protecting yourself and certainly your family and our community as a whole,” said Dr. Brown.
To find vaccines and boosters near you, visit vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.
For resources and toolkits to help you build vaccine confidence in your community, visit the We Can Do This website.
Josephine Reid is a member of the Public Relations Team for Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the Cobb Institute.