Systemic Racism in Health Care

The Visalia Delta Times and Tulare County Voices held a second forum on systemic racism that focused on the discussion of systemic racism in healthcare.

The forum discussed the topic of barriers people of color face in health care and possible solutions to better the problem. The panelists included Ambar Rodriguez, Mayra Becerra, Reyna Rodriguez, Dr. Omar Guzman, and Lori D. Winston, MD. Ambar Rodriguez, Kaweah Delta Hospital District trustee, discussed how communities of color don’t have accessible information on healthcare and are vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Dr. Guzman added that there is a lack of health literacy, lack of access to physicians and specialty care with patients. Therefore, people of color are not receiving adequate health care.

Mayra Becerra shared a personal story about a friend when asked about systemic racism in the Ivanhoe health care community. She stated that her friend was a victim of a shooting and the doctor questioned his involvement in what happened to him. The doctor also disregarded his pain because they did not want him to become an addict. Becerra states that this situation still upsets her years later because of its blatant racism in assuming this person of color would become a drug addict and how it was enough not to provide sufficient medical care.

Dr. Omar Guzman brought up the pipeline program to create doctors who were born, raised in the Central Valley through an academy at Orosi high school and how it will tackle implicit bias in health care. Lori Winston, MD., explains how in comparison to Illinois where she moved from, there is a difference with medicine in the central valley where not all doctors accept Medi-Cal which makes it harder for people to receive care. Dr. Winston then mentioned the residency program at Kaweah Delta will help more physicians to stay within the central valley.

With all the information and acknowledgment of systemic racism in health care, the conversation then steered over to where the problem stems from. Dr. Guzman brings up the fact that the policies being made in health care on who becomes a physician and how the fight for equity is needed. The topic of how bias in health care harms patients was brought and how it creates a cycle of being dismissed until the problem becomes obvious. Things like how patients’ symptoms are not taken seriously to the point that these people of color distance themselves from the act of seeking out care.

The overall conversation of the forum revolved around how the bias and structural racism within healthcare actively puts people of color at a disadvantage. This forum was held on Facebook live on the Visalia Times-Delta account and it is now uploaded onto the Visalia Times-Delta youtube channel. The viewer’s questions were also answered on the live and contact info for the panelist is also given. The live video can be accessed here: