While President Barack Obama’s 2010 health reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, greatly expanded insurance access, it excluded undocumented immigrants across the country. This likely contributed to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on undocumented Californians. Health equity and immigrant rights advocates have been urging California leaders to broaden health coverage for nearly a decade.
California’s leaders must build a diverse and culturally competent health workforce. This starts with making investments in the communities that are most vulnerable and medically underserved.
Policymakers should work to expand health career pipeline programs for underrepresented students. Programs such as Health Career Connection have driven talented students of color into health care and public health careers for years. Full disclosure: I’m an alum.
I share this part of my grandfather’s story to illustrate the real and lasting impacts of institutional racism: The same policies that cultivated wealth for White people in the United States prohibited the accumulation of wealth for Black people.
Today, as we face the impact of COVID-19 and the racial inequities it is revealing, our leaders have an opportunity to do better. Now is an opportune time to create equitable policies.
When I started my pediatric training, I expected to see kids with “typical” complaints, such as asthma attacks, ear infections, lacerations or maybe a COVID-19 case. Instead our emergency department was flooded with children and teens who suffered from anxiety, suicide attempts, and suspected physical or sexual abuse.
At least 10 times a day, the best care for my patients was for them to see a psychiatrist or a social worker.
The pandemic and protests have laid bare the depths of our nation’s disparities. Your race should not determine whether you live or die. It should not influence whether your doctor listens to you, or whether you can breathe clean air.
But—too often—it does.
In my own family, I’ve seen the results of racism and redlining play out over generations in Los Angeles, limiting where some family members could purchase homes, raise their children and retire.
For years, public health programs have worked hard to make immunization equitable, shielding all children from preventable illnesses. If children fall behind in their vaccination schedule, immunity will begin to wane, and the likelihood of vaccine-preventable outbreaks will increase in the coming months.
If you haven’t heard from your pediatrician yet, call your medical home to ask how and when they plan to resume well visits and vaccinations.
As a pediatrician and a father, I can tell you that children are able to sense fear among caregivers. I encourage parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children to understand what they’ve heard, answer their questions and provide comfort.
We’re all in this together and solidarity will get us through this pandemic.
Many teen victims do not tell their family or friends about the abuse, in part because they believe violence is “normal” in a relationship. Some fear not being believed or that their abusers will cause more harm to them or their loved ones.
Eleven-year-old Jaime was diagnosed with leukemia and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. He’s a U.S. citizen but his mother is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. “His mother told me that when they get home after his chemo, Jaime closes all of the curtains and locks the doors,” explained Jacqueline Casillas, my colleague and director of Pediatric Oncology at Miller’s Children’s Hospital in Long Beach. He’s afraid that his mother will be deported because she takes him to the doctor.
The rising cost of higher education makes food a luxury for some college students. Students are often embarrassed that they need food—but they’re not alone. Among Cal State students, 41 percent reported food insecurity in a 2016-17 survey across all 23 campuses.