This narrative was born out of a desire to examine the effects of healthcare disparities among minority populations. As a medical student, I had the opportunity to spend a 4-week rotation working with physicians specializing in palliative care during what is arguably the most challenging public health crisis in over a century. This provided a unique perspective that allowed the observation of the intersection of healthcare systems with underserved and vulnerable minority populations, and palliative medicine. It also allowed us to observe the negative consequences it has had, particularly during a hard-hitting global pandemic. The paper gives a brief introduction to the problem of healthcare disparities as described by the WHO and CDC. We discuss some of the statistical data that show how certain demographics like workers in service industries, or meat-packing facilities are more likely to contract the COVID-19 virus, and how these same populations are disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to their limited access to healthcare systems. We then discuss the case of a COVID-19 patient that was treated by a multidisciplinary team during this period. This patient, like many others, was an immigrant with limited proficiency in the English language, as well as a limited medical education. We provide details about his medical course during his admission, and we try to highlight some of the pitfalls in the healthcare system as it relates to this patient’s prognosis and healthcare outcome.
This article is associated with the Policy & Measurement lens of The Beryl Institute Experience Framework. (http://bit.ly/ExperienceFramework)
Macaulay DO, Khandelwal C, Rosen L. A student's lesson in healthcare disparities. Patient Experience Journal. 2020; 7(3):20-23. doi: 10.35680/2372-0247.1534.