by Alyssa Castro, We’Ced Youth Media
On February 2nd, 2013 I attended the African American Women’s Health Forum in Merced. I arrived to the event a bit late but upon entering, the conversation began with talk about the historical root of distrust or skepticism that people, including some members of the African-American community, bring in to the doctors office. Dr Sandra Davis, a retired health care consultant and activist whose career in health care started in 1978, led the conversation as the keynote speaker.
Dr. Davis began her talk with a startling anecdote: In 1986 the Central Valley only had one doctor that accepted women with Medi-Cal. There was a perception that Medi-Cal patients were sicker or more of a hassle to handle as a patient. Around 1995 is when the perception began to shift. More monetary incentives, or funding, were being provided for Medi-Cal and data was gathered showing that families on Medi-Cal weren’t “sicker” than other families. Programs that encouraged mothers to take their children for screenings or check ups were also provided but as a child got older the health care programs encouraging screenings became more limited. Many of the audience members shared anecdotes about neighborhood conditions and having to find transportation to the Hospital. Transportation is essential and without it having to get to a hospital on the opposite side of town (a more “comfortable” side of town) where a resident lives from has proven to be a barrier to accessing Health care. In order to access it an individual needs to be able to get to health clinics and without transportation it will only escalate potential health issues even further. “Build a place where people can get to it.” Says Dr. Sandra.
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