Racism is a public health problem, says Kent Hospital chief
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) While Gov. Gina Raimondo expressed concern that large protests in the state over the murder of George Floyd could lead to further spread of COVID-19, a doctor at Kent Hospital said those protests have sparked conversations about the link between racism and health disparities.
“We were prepared for a surge that never happened in our state, ” said Dr. Laura Forman, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Kent Hospital. “So if there is one, whether or not it’s related to protests and the reopening of the state, we’ve increased capacity and are able to handle it.”
Forman said the hospital has been looking for ways to address racism and equality head on.
“Because of systemic racism there are disparities to access to health care,” Forman said. “Who has access and the quality, unequal treatment with the care… and it’s been going on for a very long time.”
Racism and acts of violence, Forman said, are two public health emergencies that limit healthcare providers ability to protect patients.
Meanwhile, at her briefing Wednesday, Raimondo said staff from the Rhode Island Department of Health will be on hand at a protest planned for Providence on Friday. Staff will be distributing masks and information on distancing and where to get tests.