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Racial disparities in healthcare taking center stage on Capitol Hill

Atrium’s CEO is joining political leaders to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Blacks and Latinos.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Our focus today is on COVID-19's disproportionate health impact on Black and Latino seniors,” U.S. Senator Susan Collins said.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated racial disparities that have been in the healthcare system for generations.

Tuesday, US Senator Susan Collins put a spotlight on the issue during a senate special committee hearing on aging.

“Black and Latino residents are infected with the virus at three times the rate of their white neighbors and nearly twice as likelly to die to COVID-19,” Collins said.

Experts point out that older African Americans are more likely to be uninsured, live in communities with low-quality healthcare and rely on public transportation.

Ultimately increasing their risks of COVID-19 due to poor care on pre-existing underlying conditions.

“Kidney disease, serious heart conditions, obesity, sickle cell disease and type 2 diabetes,” Collins said. 

That’s why healthcare leaders like Atrium Health CEO, Eugene Woods are putting their best resources toward those living in nursing homes.

This, as the mortality rate in the US at long term facilities, climbs to 40%. 

“We care for more than 35% of minority patients with most being Latinx,” Woods said.

Woods told the committee that his team is also increasing testing in underserved neighborhoods in the Charlotte area.

Atrium is using Roving Health units to pinpoint geographic hotspots where disparities in COVID-19 testing and treatment are present.

“In three weeks alone, we’ve already distributed nearly 500,000 masks with a specific focus on minority and elderly communities,” Woods said.

Woods believes virtual technology will also make a difference in vulnerable communities.

“I believe this is a glimpse of the future of healthcare using technology increases access including for the most vulnerable among us,” Woods said.

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