FORT WORTH, TX (October 6, 2020) – Hampton University Pre-Health students were invited to participate in a health disparities movie screening and discussion with former Surgeons General, focusing on health disparities in the era of COVID-19. The movie screening of the documentary, “Open Season: Racism and Health Disparities, the Two Deadliest Diseases in America” by filmmaker Crystal R. Emery and Roundtable event was a collaboration between Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center (TCU-UNTHSC) School of Medicine.
The film addresses the role of racism in COVID-19 outcomes, by looking at structural racism built into this country and its healthcare system. Emery shows a Black woman going to the doctor, trying to get her child seen but she owes a balance. The front office will not let the woman see the doctor without paying the balance. In contrast, a White woman goes to the same doctor and has a similar outstanding balance, but the receptionist lets the woman see the doctor.
“This film gives voice to those whose voices we never hear. Many want to go back to the way it was before the pandemic, but Black and Brown cannot go back to the inequality. We have to take care of ourselves and demand those take better care of us,” said Emery.
After the film aired, there was a roundtable discussion featuring five former U.S. Surgeons General: Dr. Richard Carmona, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Antonia Novello, and Dr. David Satcher.
“Discussing disparities in health is important. Seeing the impact of disparities when a virus comes along like COVID-19, and how we suffer disproportionately, through deaths, through hospitalization. It’s hard to separate health disparities from racism and other issues that impact on how we suffer during a crisis like COVID-19,” said Dr. Satcher.
Hampton University pre-health students were invited to watch the movie and listen to the roundtable discussion. “It’s important for our students to participate in discussions like these, because many of the health disparities occur in the African American community. Many of our students are going into careers in medicine and healthcare, so this is a chance to hear from these experienced individuals and learn from the experts,” said Prof. Michael Druitt, Hampton University Pre-Health program director. He also thanked Dr. Lisa McBride, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at TCU for her leadership role in hosting the event.
This health disparity discussion was also a collaborative effort for Hampton to participate in an event with TCU and UNTHSC. “The presentation of this film and discussion with the Surgeon Generals are incredible opportunities for our students, and medical students everywhere, to better understand the insidious nature of health care disparities and to acquire skills to grow beyond them,” said Dr. Stuart D. Flynn, Founding Dean of the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, which was a presenting partner in the panel discussion. “The more light that we can shine on these issues, the more we can empower change, forging us closer to building a system that is fair and equitable for all.”