Panel of URI alumni discuss working on front lines during pandemic

The group also noted how the pandemic has exacerbated disparities in healthcare in poorer communities and communities of color.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A panel of URI alumni who now work on the front lines in health care shared their stories Wednesday night of the Covid-19 pandemic at its height this past spring.

“We need to learn from the past several months so that we can create a system that is better able to respond to a pandemic,” said Director of the URI Academic Health Collaborative Elizabeth Roberts

The panel, made up of doctors, nurses, and public health workers spoke about how much the pandemic has laid bare the health inequities between different communities, and how much patient and worker mental health have been affected.

“It’s not easy telling a family member over the phone that their family member has passed or is expected to pass,” said James Lemieux, a nurse at Kent Hospital.

“When they were anxious, they just wanted to speak to somebody,” said Doctor of Pharmacy Eugenio Fernandez. “So what I didn’t anticipate was becoming the neighborhood psychologist.”

The group also noted how the pandemic has exacerbated disparities in healthcare in poorer communities and communities of color.

“People with brown skin – we’re dying at a disproportionately higher rate,” said Psychologist Dr. Trudy-Anne Gayle

With the pandemic far from over, they had one main recommendation going forward.

“Wearing your mask is key,” said Fernandez.

Dr. Gayle also urged flexibility, saying it’s important to be understanding if a school or business has to close to protect public health.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island, Your Health