Health News Roundup

A COVID-19 vaccine: Transparency and communication are key to building trust in the Black community, and more in this week’s roundup

Community leaders say Connecticut must address trust issues in Black communities ahead of COVID-19 vaccine 
Nicole Leonard, WNPR, October 21
Public health experts and advocates say Connecticut needs to figure out how to gain trust and confidence from people in Black communities when it comes time to distribute and administer a future COVID-19 vaccine. But a history of medical malice and unethical experimentation on Black people, dating back all the way to slavery, can serve as a major barrier.

‘All you want is to be believed’: The impacts of unconscious bias in health care
April Dembosky, KQED, Kaiser Health News, October 21
At nearly every turn during Karla Monterroso’s emergency room visit, providers dismissed her symptoms and concerns. Her low blood pressure? That’s a false reading. Her cycling oxygen levels? The machine’s wrong. The shooting pains in her leg? Probably just a cyst. Her experiences, she reasons, are part of why people of color are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. It is not merely because they’re more likely to have frontline jobs that expose them to it and the underlying conditions that make COVID-19 worse, but also the unconscious bias of doctors that affects the care they provide to people of color.

Hospital bills for uninsured COVID-19 patients are covered, but no one tells them
Blake Farmer, NPR, October 22
When Darius Settles died from COVID-19, his family and the city of Nashville were shocked. Even the mayor noted the passing of a 30-year-old without any underlying conditions — one of the city’s youngest fatalities at that point. Settles was also uninsured and had just been sent home from an emergency room for the second time and he was worried about medical bills. An investigation into his death found that, like many uninsured COVID-19 patients, he had never been told that cost shouldn’t be a concern. Most major health systems participate in a program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in which uninsured patients with COVID-19 have their bills covered. There is no requirement for these hospitals or health systems to let their patients know that they won’t be responsible for their medical bills after receiving care.

Most US home health aides ‘can’t afford not to work’ – even without PPE
Eli Cahan, The Guardian, October 16
During the pandemic, home health aides have been key to the COVID-19 response holding up the US healthcare system by keeping the most vulnerable patients – seniors and the disabled – out of hospitals. Yet even as they have put themselves at risk, this workforce of 2.3 million – of whom nine in 10 are women, nearly two-thirds are minorities and almost one-third foreign-born – has largely been overlooked. Home health aides have often been responsible for providing their own protective equipment and disinfectant during widespread shortages. Many of them have worked tirelessly through the pandemic on poverty-level wages, without overtime pay, hazard pay, sick leave and health insurance.