Minority Health Disparities | Michelle's Story

Author: Johns Hopkins Medicine

The world has got to change. I lived in a community that was so prosperous, with doctors, and lawyers, and politicians. Now we have drug dealers, and corner stores that they don't sell anything but the wrong things. You cannot deny the impact that it has on people's health. I have been in West Baltimore my entire life. As far as money, my mother didn't have any money. I don't wanna say she was poor, I'll say low income.

Poor we were though. In the 50s we didn't have many choices, as far as health care. The healthcare system then was limited, it was not good for us.

And medicine costing so much that my family said sometimes, will I eat, or will I pay for my medicine? I just love my daughters when they come over, and we get together and we cook and prepare meals together. It's healthy meals. When my oldest went to college, she came back with a different diet. Now what happens is, if I do a meatloaf it's turkey instead of ground beef. I make spaghetti, I make chili, stuff like that. It's with turkey and chicken. We grew up we ate pork, we ate bacon, we ate fresh shoulder, we ate pork chops.

I did not think it was not healthy eating, because this is what we were accustomed to. I was in denial, I didn't want to face the fact that I was becoming a diabetic The impact is the fact that my family ended up with heart disease, emphysema, diabetes, cancer. My mother's sister, her daughter died of diabetes.

Minority Health Disparities | Michelle's Story

She was an amputee. My mother died of a massive heart attack and To address health disparities, we need to understand why they exist. That they're not due to one single factor. They're the result of policy decisions we make as a society. They're due to the environment, health education, insurance and access to care, access to healthy food and stress. Those stresses are actually experienced disproportionately by people who are poor, and people who have been historically disadvantaged in this society.

Solutions to these problems cannot just be medical, it's systemic. And that means everybody has to get involved. If we want a nation to be strong, the people in that nation have to be healthy They have to be well. If there's anything that we can do to stamp out disparities, we need to do it by any means necessary. Hi Miss Simmons. Here at East Baltimore Medical Center most of the patients are underserved. We need nice deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Michelle is a terrific success story.

There was actually a year where she had lost her job, and before she found a new one she had no health insurance. And she still managed to buy her medicines out of pocket, paid out of pocket to come and have doctor visits. She was really invested in her own health.

That's something that Dr Cooper's' research is looking at. Why patients don't invest in their health like we wish they would? The next thing on the agenda is the community update, so I'm gonna turn- Michelle joined our Community Advisory Board in 2011 We provide education to the community about health and about research. We offer training programs for community health workers. We can be sure that we are meeting the needs of people appropriately. And that we're not leaving out certain groups of people that have traditionally not been included in conversations related to health and healthcare.

Our strong relationship with a community is just essential. There's no way we could do what we're doing without their input. And my work is just one of many initiatives here at Hopkins. Miss Simmons is a great example of happens when get it right as clinicians, and as an institution.

I am a fighter. I am a believer. I stand for what's right. And what's right is people's health. And I will never give up, as long as I have breath in my body. One of the things that is so important is that people have, what I call a liberated future. And it's hard to be liberated when you're not healthy. And when I say liberated, I mean freedom to be all that God meant for you to be.

When we don't deal with disparities, then what we're doing is denying people an opportunity to give back to the world. And so, we've gotta fight it. We've gotta fight it with everything we've got.

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Minority Health Disparities | Michelle's Story

The world has got to change. I lived in a community that was so prosperous, with doctors, and lawyers, and politicians. Now we have drug dealers, and corner stores that they don't…

By: Johns Hopkins Medicine