When I start to think about my role now at the Dalio Center for Health Justice, one of the things that very much propels me and what I do every day is thinking about my dad and thinking about his experience in the hospital and thinking about what could have been done differently for him. And unfortunately he is not with us today but it is that experience which has absolutely transformed the way I think about healthcare and the way I think about my role in healthcare and what I can do to eliminate gaps in care for our most vulnerable populations.
On the importance of communication
Dr. Iyasere: Being able to translate the language of medicine, not only into approachable language, but then also to share in that experience with your patients is so important and so meaningful. And I think it’s something that we all need to learn how to do, how to take some of the burden from our patients and share the experience with them.
Dr. Crawford: In this day and age, there’s so much information that it’s hard for anyone to sift through it. And there has to be people [who are] able to relay medicine and health [information] to people who are coming to us for that help…. I hope that patients that are out there know that they deserve everything from their caregivers and they should not accept care that they think is substandard. They shouldn’t be afraid if they don’t understand something to be able to ask a question.
On addressing vaccine hesitancy and gaining trust
Dr. Crawford: If my friends know that I got a vaccine and they were like, “Dr. Crawford, you got a vaccine?” And I would say, yeah, you give me two more shots if need be because I know that this is safe because my colleagues work on this and we all participate in this and we know that it’s safe. …. And I think we’re at this point where medicine has opened up their arms and said, we are offering our help. And now it’s just a matter of the population, our community to say, “Well, we accept your help.” And I think we just have to continue to open up our arms and continue to educate and use our platforms to reach as many people as possible.
Dr. Iyasere: This is the beginning of not rewriting history but reckoning with history and saying, we recognize why people don’t trust vaccines. We recognize why people feel uncomfortable and we will do whatever we can as a healthcare community to rebuild those bridges, to build the foundations of trust in our communities and to say, this is our safest way to make sure that we save lives in our country.
On building a foundation for the future
Dr. Crawford: As program director for our Gastroenterology Fellowship, I try to teach my trainees …. When there are patients in the hospital, advocate for your patients, treat them like your mother was in the hospital. If this patient’s not getting a procedure, is that the right thing to do? Would you let your mom hang out without getting a procedure if it was scheduled for this time, or at least communicate as to what the barriers are, but don’t let people stay in the dark, you have to be really engaged with everyone.
Dr. Iyasere: I think one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in recent memory, we did a pop-up vaccine site at Abyssinian Baptist Church and seeing so many people of color come in to be vaccinated, I was tearful. … It made me think like, OK, I’m not going to stop until we reach everybody. So I do see that change in how people are reflecting and thinking. And I think that the more that we can bring communities together, I think that not just for now, it’s not just about vaccination, that’s a huge part of it, but as I said, it’s really sowing seeds for the future.