Advocates for Black Hoosiers host forum to discuss racism as a ‘public health crisis’

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INDIANAPOLIS — There will be a virtual forum to discuss claims of disproportionate care for certain Indianapolis area communities Tuesday night. 

Advocates for Black Hoosiers will be speaking with local hospital and community leaders about racism as a public health crisis. 

The forum is hosted by the Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch and the Indianapolis Recorder. They say they are willing to work with leaders to help fix the disparity that certain communities experience. 

According to Dr. Joseph Tucker Edmonds with the local NAACP branch, Black Americans are dying more often and at younger ages in hospitals. He says the pandemic only heightened what was already an issue. 

Tucker Edmonds will be one of the moderators at the events. He is on the education committee for the NAAC[ and serves as an assistant professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at IUPUI. 

He says some of the reasons behind this are a lack of representation in healthcare workers. He also says some African Americans don’t get equal care or get care that is not culturally competent.  

“What we hope is that these CEOs of these hospital corporations will recognize that the Black community is alarmed and concerned. That they are taking very distinct and organized roles to advocate for the Black community more broadly. That we want good quality care. We want care that is equal and equitable,” said Edmonds. 

He even says local hospital and community leaders have acknowledged that there are disproportionate outcomes and now they want to move forward to discuss what’s being done to change that. 

“So we’re asking them to really show us the money. Show us where the resources are being spent. How they’re changing policies. And where we should be looking. Websites, data points, who can we call when we see things are not going the way they are suggesting,” 

Tucker Edmonds also says Black communities have seen disproportionate care during the coronavirus pandemic, but that has only heightened what was already an issue. 

“So coronavirus is just one example of the disproportionate impact but also the disproportionate types of care or the unequal types of care that we want to talk to these CEOs about. How do we treat African Americans better, so that they actually have greater mortality, lower mortality rates and better outcomes,” Edmonds said. 

“COVID-19 will just be one example of the ways that hopefully these hospitals are changing their practices and their protocol in relationship to the black community. And helping us move forward from a pattern of desperate and problematic care to one where it is equal and fair for everyone that walks into those hospital doors.” 

IU Health, Eskenazi Health and Community Health leaders are all scheduled to take part in the forum as well as a member from the City-County Council. The virtual event starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

It can be streamed on Facebook Live and on Zoom

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