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Why Black Patients Don’t Trust the Healthcare System | Bayo Curry-Winchell | TEDxReno​

Why Black Patients Don’t Trust the Healthcare System | Bayo Curry-Winchell | TEDxReno

Does the healthcare system work for you? Do you think it would work the same way if you were of a different race?

Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell took the TEDxReno stage in 2022 to help illuminate some of the systemic and racist practices within the healthcare system that contribute to the Black community’s lack of trust in the system. A well-known study is one example that contributes to this mistrust. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a government-sponsored program that tricked Black men into suffering the terrible symptoms of syphilis for decades and knowingly withheld penicillin treatments while watching them deteriorate from the disease.

While the syphilis study is widely known and dates back decades, there are many current systemic racial practices and policies in place that need to be addressed if we are going to give equal treatment to the Black community. For example, to assess kidney disease today, the predominant practice is to add a marker for Black patients that shows their kidneys as healthier than non-black patients. This marker makes no sense. Black kidneys and White kidneys are the same. This practice leads to poor outcomes for no reason other than the fact that it has always been done this way. This practice is keeping 31,000 Black Americans off the kidney transplant list. It is keeping 300,000 from qualifying for a nephrology referral. It is keeping three million plus outside the threshold for stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD). This practice strongly impacts Black Americans’ ability to access equal healthcare in America. It is also a glaring example of glaring institutional racism.

And did you know that Black people are dying at a higher rate than their white counterparts?

How do we bridge the divide and grow a foundation of trust? Through representation. If a Black person who mistrusts the healthcare system can find someone in healthcare that they see themselves in, it helps build trust. We need Black doctors in the field, providing great care and calling out racism and biased practices. The current percentage of Black doctors is low. In the male-dominated medical profession, it is even more important for Black female doctors to enter the field. If we ever hope to bring equal representation to the healthcare system, it must begin with representation.

For more, watch Dr. Curry-Winchell’s TEDxReno talk in full here. 

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