I can still recall the stories my mother would tell us kids about her night shifts as an Emergency Room nurse at Mercy Hospital in Detroit. We would listen to her, riveted, soaking in life’s lessons, like don’t smoke because, if you do, one day you won’t be able to breathe, or how reckless driving can wreck far more than a car.
When I began fourth grade, my mother decided to go back into nursing, this time at a neighborhood physician’s practice as an allergy nurse. My school chums used to give me a hard time because it was my mother who administered their regular allergy shots. Despite the grief they gave me, I could tell that deep down they cared about her because she cared about them.
It was about that time when my mother, growing increasingly concerned about the inequity in the American health system suffered disproportionately by women, persuaded the physician and his practice to provide greater access to low-income and poor patients, many single mothers barely getting by. She knew that someone, something had to be done to help those “The System” was leaving behind.
I can’t help but think back on those days when I see reports that show women continue to face disparity in health access, care, and outcomes. Thankfully, entities like the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) Health & Safety Programs are fighting to give farmworker women and their families the power to secure equitable care. At the national level, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), seeks to advance the science and practice of health equity to improve women’s health, aid high-risk communities, and see policies and strategies implemented that promote the elimination of health disparities across the nation to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
We need to change that and change it now. Call or write President Biden. Call or write your elected officials in Congress. Tell them that we as a nation can fix these problems if we simply recognize the problem and make the necessary changes to The System. I promise you: it won’t hurt as much as one of my mom’s allergy shots. Promise.
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