by Kevin Schofield
Last month, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released an updated “Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map” for the state. It calculates the environmental risks for communities throughout the state, in terms of the potential negative impacts to their health.
Continue reading Weekend Reads | Mapping Environmental Health Disparities
by Amanda Ong
Ahmed Ali came to the New Holly neighborhood of southeast Seattle in 1998 with his family as Somalian refugees. Twenty years later, in 2018, Ali opened Othello Station Pharmacy in the very same neighborhood. It is one of the only independent, Black-owned pharmacies in Seattle. And unlike huge pharmacy chains, Othello Station Pharmacy offers a community approach and understanding to the labyrinth of the health care system.
“I managed a Walgreens for some time, and I just decided that I really wanted to do something different, because I saw a lot of disparities in access, availability, and resources for a large number of the Black population in southeast Seattle and south King County,” Ali said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “To actually reduce disparities when it comes to Black and Brown folks, I think the easiest and fastest way to actually address those issues is through community-owned health systems.”
Continue reading Community Care at Independent, Black-Owned Othello Station Pharmacy
by Kevin Schofield
This weekend’s “long read” focuses on two medical research papers exploring how the U.S. health care system has changed over the past two decades: the money going into the system and the outcomes for individuals. And it’s not a pretty picture.
Let’s start with a paper from a group of researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here in Seattle, looking at health care spending from 2002 through 2016 and broken out by race and ethnicity. Total spending has grown dramatically, from about $1.5 trillion annually in 2002 to over $2.4 trillion in 2016. The amount spent per person increases as they age, from a low of about $3,000 per year for children in 2016 to more than $15,000 per year for those over the age of 65. There are some significant differences in spending across racial and ethnic lines, with Asians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics seeing some of the lowest levels of spending across all age groups and white and multiracial individuals seeing the highest spending.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: The Evolution of Our Health Care System
by Susan Fried
About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Fathers and Sons Together Barbershop Event Encourages Hope
by Jonathan Mulenga and Fatima Zavala
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed racial health disparities, specifically impacting African American and Latino communities. Coronavirus hit at disproportionate rates for communities of color. On May 9, 2021 the rate of cases for COVID-19, for instance, in white communities was 2,754 per 100,000, while Latino communities had a rate of 9,992 per 100,000 people. In King County, 62% of white communities are vaccinated while only 46% of the Latino population have been vaccinated. Latino Americans are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Though jarring, this is not surprising.
Continue reading OPINION: Communities Forgotten — Latinos During the Pandemic
by Roy Fisher
When I first thought about getting vaccinated, it wasn’t about whether I would or not, it was about when. I did not want to be part of the initial rollout, figuring some kinks would need to be worked out. I likened it to getting the newest cell phone when they’re released. The first edition consistently seems to have something not quite right but then they get it figured out over subsequent releases. I thought the vaccine would follow a similar course. Let’s get the first year under our belts and see what kind of outcomes there are. No way did I think there would be an effective vaccine available in 2020.
Continue reading OPINION: I Got Vaccinated to Support My Community
by Asqual Getaneh, MD
In February 2020, International Community Health Services (ICHS) was the first of the nation’s nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers — serving 30 million people, most of them low-income immigrants and refugees — with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Our staff have seen the tragic costs of a pandemic that has infected more than 100 million people worldwide and claimed more than 2 million deaths. So, when the first doses of the Moderna vaccine rolled through our doors on Dec. 23, we felt ready.
Continue reading OPINION: More Will Die From Covid Without Meaningful Change to Health Care
by Dr. Stephan Blanford and Misha Werschkul
Since the pandemic’s onset, Washington families have experienced a rolling crisis in jobs, hunger, health, and education. The prospect of eviction hangs over far too many. Food insecurity has skyrocketed. Child care facilities have closed, many of them permanently. And a rocky transition to remote learning is now impeding students’ educational progress. The acute stress on children and families may harm kids’ health, their education, and their ability to earn a living.
Continue reading OPINION: Washington’s Children Shouldn’t Have to Relive Our Past Mistakes
by Jadenne Cabahug
Edna Cortez has worked as a registered nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital for the past 30 years — and she received a commemorative pin to mark the occasion. Cortez wears another pin these days during the pandemic: she places a button with a picture of her face on top of her scrub hat to help her young patients feel less afraid.
She usually keeps her face covered while working, like all nurses do during the pandemic. Cortez has to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, goggles, face shields, and gowns. Not everyone has access to the same equipment, or the right kind.
Cortez is among the state’s essential workers — in health care and other professions — who have been put at higher risk from COVID-19 and other environmental health factors in 2020.
Continue reading Essential Workers — Including Those in Health Care — Hit Hard by COVID-19 and Environmental Health Threats
By Carolyn Bick
When Marva Harris first adopted grandson Jeremiah in 2013, the then-infant’s tiny body was covered in eczema from head to toe. While a United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that it’s increasingly more common for Black children to suffer from the skin disease, Jeremiah was “in pretty bad shape.” Continue reading Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic to Open Second Location