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“Discrimination in Health Care” describes how Black citizens are mistreated

Ryan Beebe

Two hundred and sixty five: the number of participants that attended the SEAT at the Table event on Friday afternoon to discuss “Discrimination in Healthcare”.

SEAT (Social justice, Equity, Accountability, Transformation) at the Table is a series of events ran by Springfield College about different topics that educate anyone attending the events about the topics of equity for all.

The event “Discrimination in Healthcare” was about how Black citizens have been mistreated in health care and about racism within the industry.

There were four speakers at the event.

The first speaker, Raj Omoru, is a senior in health sciences at Springfield College and has also been a Patient Care Technician for the past four years at Baystate Medical Center.

Omoru discussed a study called “Racial Bias and Pain Assessment in Treatment Recommendations and False Beliefs About Biological Differences Between Blacks and Whites.” He explained the difference between a bias of a doctor and a regular person was not by much. A doctor showed less bias but still showed some bias which then led to their treatment recommendation on pain and a bunch of other services. He explained there is a history that led to this bias. 

Omoru also talked about John Marion Sims, who is “the godfather of gynecology by experimenting on black women who were slaves.” He did not use anesthesia on these women.

“A secret is not something unrevealed but something that is told quietly in a whisper and the history of black experimentation and medical research is always told in a whisper,” Omoru quoted. “Do not let the lion tell the giraffe story.”

The next speaker, Ocean Eversly, is also a student at Springfield College, studying in the school of social work. Eversly is a third-semester student who is 62 years old and in her second career.

The third speaker, Christie Idiong, is a professor at Springfield College. 

Idiong shared her screen and showed a PowerPoint that had a symbol that looked like both the number “13” and the letter “B.” She had everyone guess if they saw the letter or the number. She explained that multiple realities can exist and what you surround yourself with shapes your view. She said, “When George Floyd was murdered there was a reawakening and another view shown. Those who saw 13 began to see that the letter B existed as well.”

She also said, “A 2016 study showed that there were still perceptions that Black people don’t feel pain because they have thicker skin.” She explained that medical students thought this because it came from years and years of being taught these lies.

The final speaker, Christina Huebner Torres, is the Vice President of Research and Population Health at Caring Health Center, which is a neighbor to Springfield College.

She talked about her experiences with healthcare being in community-based organizations for her entire career.

“People of color with a college education may still have a worse outcome than a white person without an education,” Huebner Torres said.

To address these issues in the local environment, she said, “At Caring Health Center they see the differences in the care of patients and therefore they are the largest refugee health assessment site in the state and serve patients with 35 languages and 70% of their patients are identified as lower income.” 

Omoru wrapped up the session by thanking the speakers for leading the research and telling their narrative. 

Photo: Office of Multicultural Affairs

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