Health News Roundup

How some barbershops are fighting health disparities in their communities, and more in this week’s roundup

This Black barbershop offers a shape-up and a checkup to fight health disparities
Courtland Milloy, The Washington Post, September 8
Millennium Barber Salon is one of 20 African American-owned barbershops in Maryland that operates in association with a network of Black health-care professionals — physicians, dentists, psychologists, nutritionists, among others. Customers come to these salons for haircuts and receive so much more. Upon arriving, he — or she — goes to a health-care kiosk and fills out a questionnaire: Do you have health insurance? Do you have a primary care physician? When was your most recent physical exam? Depending on how a customer answers the questionnaire, he or she may leave the barbershop with not only a haircut but also a list of doctors along with instructions for how to obtain health insurance and prepare healthier meals.

Why Black aging matters, too
Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News, September 3
Old. Chronically ill. Black. People who fit this description are more likely to die from COVID-19 than any other group in the country according to a new Kaiser Health News analysis. Yet, while disparities in race and age have been discussed in relation to the coronavirus, how they intersect has received little attention.
Related: Residents in majority-Black nursing homes suffer higher covid-19 death rates, analysis finds Sidnee King, Joel Jacobs, The Washington Post, September 9

With science and scripture, a pastor fights COVID-19 vaccine skepticism
Amy Sokolow, STAT, August 31
As a pastor in a church in the area of Baltimore hit hardest by COVID-19, Terris King knows his decision to keep services remote is the right one, even if it’s unpopular. Since the beginning of the pandemic, King, 60, has been fighting an uphill battle, weaving together science and scripture in the hopes his approximately 300 congregants will adhere to public health guidelines: mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.

Without an ‘ounce of empathy’: Their stories show the dangers of being Black and pregnant
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, USA Today, September 9
Black women are dying in childbirth 2½ times more often than white women, according to data released earlier this year by the National Center for Health Statistics. Despite the fact that Black women make up about 13% of the population of American women, they die in numbers not far behind white women, who make up 60%. From 2006 to 2017, the most recent years analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,432 Black women died compared with 2,756 white women. Researchers are pointing to institutional racism from the health care system, including unconscious bias and overt racism from health care providers, contributing to racial disparities in mortality rates.

During pandemic, Black families put trust in Black doctors
Leah Willingham, Associated Press, September 7
As a Black primary care physician practicing in Mississippi, Janice Bacon works at an all-African American-run trio of community health centers in Hinds County, where the population is overwhelmingly Black — and where the most coronavirus cases have been reported in the state. Most of the families that she and the more than 50 other doctors, nurses and social workers serve are African American, low-income and living with health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and asthma that are more common among Black Americans. Research suggests that Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors and nurses. Yet, only 5% of doctors nationwide are Black.