How Hospitals are isolating people of color and leaving these communities behind5
The Atlanta BlackStar recently reported on the release of U.S. News and World report’s annual top best hospitals list. While the list contained many well known hospitals, what is striking is that most of the hospitals listed are not located in communities where the majority of the population are people of color.
Despite the fact that a 2011 Johns Hopkins University study showed that people of color and those who are poor face worse health outcomes than the general population, the managing editor and director of healthcare analysis for U.S. News & World Report defends the hospital’s locations by stating, “Our target audience is patients who have conditions – not those who need routine hospital care, which may be available at many hospitals that don’t rise to the level of our rankings. For these challenging patients, the choice of hospital carries the highest stakes.”
An example of how communities of color are being left out in the cold when it comes to healthcare is the merging of Saint Luke’s hospital, located in Harlem, and Mount Sinai Hospital, located in the affluent neighborhood of Manhattan’s Upper Eastside. DNAInfo reports that the merger caused the Harlem neighborhood’s only pediatric unit to close despite West Harlem having one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country.
The New York Times reports that Huron Hospital in East Cleveland has also negatively impacted a community of color. The hospital closed in 2011 after serving an African American community for more than a century. In response to the closings, Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Brian Smedley states, “Those who can afford it get it, and those who can’t struggle to get care, often at a lesser quality. It will escalate as the health care crisis worsens and a population that has higher health care needs and health care problems gets worse and worse and ends up in emergency rooms to get treatment at much greater costs that we all will have to bear.”