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Addressing health disparities in minority communities

Bill to be filed this session
Posted at 12:06 AM, Jan 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 00:06:49-05

INDIANAPOLIS — In December, the world was reading about Dr. Susan Moore who died of Covid-19. While hospitalized with the virus, she shared social media posts detailing her treatment experience, accusing a doctor of treating her poorly and not taking her pain seriously because she was Black.

"When Dr. Moore's case came about, I think it just really inspired and made a super reason for the legislation to take place," Representative Robin Shackleford said. State Rep. Shackleford is working to address one of the many issues that may contribute to health disparities faced by minority communities.

"The legislation will require health professionals to get two hours of cultural awareness and diversity training," Rep. Shackleford said. "There's accountability in it because if you don't have your completed training certificate each year, you may not get your license that you need to get renewed."

This proposed legislation came about not only because of Dr. Moore, but also because of COVID-19's disproportionate impact on communities of color in Indiana. Some of the health disparities are caused by medical professionals not knowing how to talk to their minority patients.

"Minorities feel like they're not listened to by their health care staff, by their doctors. Sometimes, they feel like they're being talked down to. If they ask questions, they feel intimidated," Rep. Shackleford said. To make sure those experiences are being addressed, the legislation would also create a database to document cases.

"What this will do will create a statewide requirement where we are collecting patients experiences based on their race, religion, their sex, sexual orientation, their disability status," Rep. Shackleford said.

The bill has not been filed yet. Rep. Shackleford tells WRTV, it's still in the review process, but once it's filed, she urges you to reach out to your legislators if this is something you want them to support.