The coronavirus pandemic has brought renewed attention to the racial disparities in health care and public health that have plagued Ohio and the Dayton community.
Black Ohioans are 14% of the state’s population but make up 19% of COVID-19 hospitalizations where race is known, according to Ohio Department of Health data.
This is an improvement from earlier in the pandemic. In August, Gov. Mike DeWine declared racism a public health crisis and said Black Ohioans made up 25% of coronavirus cases, 32% of hospitalizations and 19% of COVID-19 deaths.
Even before the pandemic, health data pointed toward disparities. In 2019, Black babies in Montgomery County were about two times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday, according to Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County. Statewide, the gap is wider and the Black infant mortality rate is nearly three times that of white infants, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County passed a resolution in June declaring racism a public health crisis.
As part of our commitment to finding solutions to the most pressing issues in our community, including racism, the Dayton Daily News held an hourlong virtual discussion titled “Does your race affect the quality of your health care?” live on our Facebook page.
The panel included local experts and was hosted by Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson with assistance from reporter Jordan Laird.
“We want our Community Conversation series to help all of us understand important issues that are affecting our region,” Bebbington said. “Health care inequity is holding us back from becoming a place where all families can thrive, and we want this panel discussion to give people answers on what they can do about it.”
The panelists included:
- Andre Harris, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president of operations at Atrium Medical Center
- Ryan Ivory, director of the Dayton area chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
- Cynthia Hammond, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor in the Kettering College department of nursing
- Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services
- Fabrice Juin, coordinator of the Montgomery County Office of Minority Health
- Gina McFarlane-El, CEO of Five Rivers Health Centers
“It is extremely important for people to understand that the racial disparities we are observing during this COVID-19 crisis are the result of deeply rooted issues that have been around long before the start of this pandemic,” Juin said. “The fact that the color of your skin can express so much about your perceived health status and potential health outcomes says a lot more about the inequity within our nation’s health institutions than it does about the individual.”