I’m talking #MinorityHealth at the White House

As a blogger I have been privileged to attend so many amazing events and interact with so many amazing and inspiring people.  To date, this may be the most amazing and honoring experience yet.  I have been invited to participate in a live in-person Minority Health Blogger Town Hall hosted by the Department of Health & Human Services on Tuesday, April 24th at 12:30 p.m. at the White House. The event will be an interactive, open dialogue with stakeholder groups and bloggers to highlight what the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, means for racial and ethnic minorities. We will also discuss racial and ethnic heath disparities and how the Administration is addressing these disparities.

As a person in the medical field, you would imagine that I know quite a bit about the healthcare system and yet many times I just throw my hands up in the air and say, it’s too complicated, it is what it is.  I don’t know nearly enough about it but I should.   Ironically enough I am a nurse because I want to help people.  I embraced everything I feared my whole life, medicine, science and became a nurse.  I want to take what I see as the natural extension of being a mom and loving others in an area that I was so uncomfortable in and embrace it while helping others to do the same.  In this day and age, and especially now with children of my own and their whole futures to look forward to, I simply cannot live in the dark.  Its sad to hear generations of ill-feeling towards the healthcare system on my families part.  The fear in both my now deceased grandparents eyes and voices when they had to see a doctor or enter a hospital for care.  It is forever burned in my mind, my grandmother holding my hand, I was very young,just starting college at the time, begging me not to take her to the hospital because she feared once she was there, she’d never leave.  The sad fact is both my grandparents never left the hospital alive once they entered.  Not that their fears were reality based, only because they feared the healthcare system so much they only entered it too late.

The debate even post passing of the Affordable Healthcare Act is still very active.  I have to admit, I am very nervous to be doing this.  I myself have many questions and this town hall is a ground-breaking opportunity for us, (for me!), to interact with key stakeholders, to look pass the misunderstandings and misconceptions and get right at the heart of the truth.  When I finally sat down to really understand what the state of the healthcare system is in the US, I was shocked.  It really gave me a raw look at what an incredibly privileged life I live.  I have always had health insurance and never understood growing up what that meant to my parents who were obsessive about making sure we always had coverage, to fully understand that fear I once thought was absolutely ludicrous in my grandparents’ eyes.  It shocked me to learn that most minorities, not just my “old-school” grandparents have a poor view of healthcare in America.  With strong research showing that improving patients’ perception of their care is important to improving outcomes, it’s upsetting to see how prevalent this view is. Negative experiences can lead to less time spent with a physician and poor communications between doctor and patient which only can lead a to a vicious cycle of an even more declining view of the healthcare system.

This year’s theme, Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUNITY!, is a call to action for all of us to work together to reduce health disparities.  Join us and learn more about how the Administration is working to improve the health of minority communities and achieve health equity for all Americans.  I’m particularly interested in what specifically they are doing to reach the minorities on a one to one basis.  What are they doing locally?  How will they measure their success?  How can someone like me, simply a mom, help to foster change?  What can I do as a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, to change decades of thought and perceived history?    What questions do you have?

You can watch the Townhall live at www.whitehouse.gov/live. Please submit questions in advance using the hashtag #MinorityHealth or on their Facebook page.  Or leave me a comment!

WHAT: Minority Health Townhall
WHEN: Tuesday, April 24th, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Watch live at www.whitehouse.gov/live or join the conversation on Twitter at #MinorityHealth
WHO: Cecilia Munoz, Director of Domestic Policy Council, The White HouseKathleen Sebelius, Secretary, US Department of Health & Human Services

Dr. Regina Benjamin, Surgeon General, US Department of Health & Human Services

Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health & Director of the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services

Mayra Alvarez, Director of Public Health Policy, Office of Health Reform, US Department of Health & Human Services

B. Smith, Iconic Restaurateur, Author, and Lifestyle Expert

Dr. Dirk Schroeder, Executive Vice President, Univision’s HolaDoctor

Dr. Tyeese Gaines, Health Editor of theGrio

To view the National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report, visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr11.htm

To learn more about the Affordable Healthcare Act, visit: healthcare.gov

A great documentary about healthcare around the world to watch is: Frontline: Sick Around the World

A great documentary to watch about the state of the nation’s healthcare system and why an overhaul is necessary is: Frontline: Sick Around the America