African American health

Courtesy of James Roberson

Three times a week, an Uber ride on Indianapolis’ East Side helps to perserve the life of bright-eyed, 11-year-old Jay’Shawn Roberson.

Every other weekday, Jay’Shawn and his snaggletooth smile take a ride from his Brightwood apartment to Riley Hospital for Children for dialysis treatments. James Roberson uses lunch breaks to take his son to outpatient care, leaving Jay’Shawn there so he can return to the job that is a lifeline for his formerly homeless family. 

Pixabay

On Dec. 4, Dr. Susan Moore posted a video from her hospital bed in the Indianapolis area. Short of breath and with an oxygen tube in her nose, she said that she was denied proper care while being treated for COVID-19.

Less than three weeks later, she died from the virus. 


Retha Ferguson | WikiMedia Commons

Drug manufacturers have released promising early results for their COVID-19 vaccines, but skepticism among Americans remains high -- especially for African Americans, who the virus has hit harder than other groups.

At a news conference on Aug. 26, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said it’s crucial for Hoosiers to participate in contact tracing.  

“So If you get a text or a phone call from the state department of health about an important public health matter, please answer the text, answer the call,” she said.  

Justin Hicks/IPB News

On a Friday evening in late June, Liliana Quintero received a call from one of the Spanish interpreters working at a COVID-19 testing site in Goshen, Indiana. The area has one of Indiana’s higher Latinx populations and higher rates of COVID-19 cases, according to state data.

“[He was] saying, ‘Liliana I need to inform you that the nurse who is in charge of this site just told me that each time that she sees Hispanics coming to this site, she's going to call the police,’” recalls Quintero, director of the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition, an Elkhart-based health education and advocacy nonprofit.

This spring, as it became clear COVID-19 was hitting African-Americans especially hard, Indianapolis-area health officials vowed to set up testing sites in “hotspot” neighborhoods. One opened in predominantly Black Arlington Woods, at a respected local institution: Eastern Star Church.

How Redlining, Racism Harm Black Americans' Health

Jun 24, 2020
Carter Barrett, Side Effects Public Media

Systemic racism has a huge impact on the health of Black Americans, and not just in the doctor’s office. In a Facebook Live event, Side Effects Public Media reporter Darian Benson spoke with three experts on topics ranging from generational mistrust to the impact of COVID-19. 

Pixabay

Systemic racism has a big impact on the health of black Americans. They are more likely to have health conditions like diabetes or hypertension- and more likely to die from them. Racism in medicine takes many forms, and one is a foundation of mistrust and misunderstanding.

Justin Hicks, Indiana Public Broadcasting

Systemic racism has a huge impact on the health of African-Americans in the U.S. It's literally a problem from cradle to grave, affecting everything from infant mortality to life expectancy. And now, COVID-19 is taking a disproportionate toll on the community. Here's a sampling of Side Effects  stories highlighting the health care divide — and potential solutions.

Justin Hicks, Indiana Public Broadcasting

Demonstrations are flaring up across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. They’re also calling attention to broader inequalities. One of those areas—health disparities—kills Black Americans in massive numbers.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

With more states reopening, public health experts worried that COVID-19 would continue to spread. Those concerns have been compounded recently as large crowds gathered to protest police brutality and killings of black Americans. 

Side Effects Public Media’s Lauren Bavis spoke with Ogbonnaya Omenka, a professor of public health and health disparities at Butler University, about protesting during a pandemic.

You Asked: Why Is COVID-19 Hitting African-Americans So Hard?

Apr 10, 2020
Photo by Justin Hicks/Indiana Public Broadcasting.

Update: As the case count continues to rise, information on this story is moving quickly and may be out-of-date. We recommend checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ways to stay safe and this John Hopkins tool for the most recent data

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s digital producer Lauren Chapman and reporter Justin Hicks recently joined Side Effects Public Media’s Brittani Howell on Facebook Live to answer questions we’ve received about the new coronavirus and COVID-19.  

For more than a year, NeDina Brocks-Capla avoided one room in her large, brightly colored San Francisco house — the bathroom on the second floor.

"It was really hard to bathe in here, and I found myself not wanting to touch the walls," she explains. The bathroom is where Brocks-Capla's son Kareem Jones died in 2013 at age 36 from sickle cell disease.

It's not just the loss of her son that upsets Brocks-Capla. She believes that if Jones had gotten the proper medical care, he might still be alive today.

Cultural, Economic, Historical Factors Drive Black Breast-Feeding Gap

Sep 7, 2017
Sarah Fentem / Side Effects Public Media

Tahwii Spicer gave birth to her son Reece almost two years ago at home with the help of a midwife. She said almost as soon as he was born, he "army-crawled" up her body to start feeding.

“He was so ravenous!” she said. “He was hungry.


Lag In Brain Donation Hampers Understanding Of Dementia In Blacks

Aug 9, 2017
Anna Gorman / Kaiser Health News

The question came as a shock to Dorothy Reeves: Would she be willing to donate her husband’s brain for research?

Jake Harper / Side Effects Public Media

This year’s Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is in full swing. The event is the Expo organization’s biggest annual fundraiser, which runs through Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center.

For decades, black Americans have been dying at a higher rate than white Americans.

That's still true overall. But now there's some good news about this long, disturbing trend: The overall death rate for black Americans fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2015, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zunika Crenshaw cringes as a tire swing whips her children around in circles just a little too fast. It's a sunny afternoon in the park, in Pleasanton, Calif. As her children play, she keeps a close watch on their breathing.

She says asthma is in her genes.

"You have a family, a person who has four kids, and all of them have it, including me," she says. "And then my mom has it, and my sister's two kids."

A little girl, 3-year-old Jhase, runs over to her, wheezing. Crenshaw grabs an inhaler, and her daughter breathes deeply from it.

With focus groups, researcher looks at race, trauma and mental health in north St. Louis

May 3, 2016

New insight from a Washington University study could improve access to mental health care for African-American men. 

When cracking down on opioids means tougher access for sickle cell patients

Apr 20, 2016

Growing up, as the searing pain of a sickle cell crisis would spread through her veins, Tanjila Bolden-Myers would ask her mother if this time, it would kill her.  

“I ask her now to this day, ‘Mom, how did you look me in my face and not break? Every time I asked you that?’” said Bolden-Myers, now 38. “And she was like, ‘No, baby, you’re not going to die this time. You’re not going to die.’”

More Sickle Cell Patients Survive, But Care Is Hard To Find For Adults

Mar 23, 2016
Janoi Burgess studies for his nursing degree in his room at his home near Miami.
Liam Crotty / KHN

When Janoi Burgess was a child, he thought doctor appointments were fun.

“I used to love it because they had a section where you could play games,” said Burgess, who was born with sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder. “They were really nice and friendly.”

But when he turned 21, the South Florida resident could no longer go to his pediatric specialist. Instead, he “bounced around” to various adult primary care doctors, none of whom seemed well-versed in the details of his condition. When he had a painful sickle cell crisis two years later, his only choice was to go to a hospital emergency department, where, he says, he waited three hours for pain medication.

“They triage you based on severity, and pain is not something that they consider as severe” as other conditions, he recently recalled. “One doctor even said, ‘Your labs are OK so you’re not in pain.’ It was crazy and insulting at the same time.”

In Freddie Gray's Baltimore, The Best Medical Care Is Nearby But Elusive

Feb 15, 2016

A recurring bone infection landed Robert Peace in the hospital five times after a 2004 car accident fractured a hip.

Worlds Apart: Vast Disparities In Treatment Separate Americans With HIV

Jan 4, 2016

A major insurer said recently it would offer life insurance to HIV-positive people because of their rising life expectancies, prompting cheers from AIDS activists. But on the very same day,  the nation’s top disease control official described an America falling far short in its fight against AIDS.

A Church Seeks To Bridge The Mental Health Knowledge Gap

Dec 8, 2015
Alyssa Kapnik Samuel/KHN

For Rev. Donna Allen’s congregation in Oakland, California, the New Revelation Community Church is a place to share with other African-Americans and to find support when facing life’s small and big crises. And for Allen, one of the most important messages is that their community has too often ignored the scourge of mental illness.

“They’ll describe being very depressed, like ‘I don’t want to go on. I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to live anymore,’ ” said Allen. “They’re really describing things that are mental health issues.”