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SIU Forum to Discuss Racial Inequalities, Impacts on Health Care

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Understanding the effects of racism and other inequities within the health care system is the focus of a lecture and forum on February 9 and 10 in Springfield.

Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, will present the keynote address, “A New Legacy: Trust, Truth and Anti-racism in Medicine” via WebEx. It is scheduled to begin at 5 pm, Tuesday, February 9.

The morning after Dr. Crear-Perry’s presentation, SIU School of Medicine will host a virtual forum starting at 9 am, Wednesday, February 10, via Zoom. Dr. Ann-Gel Palermo, senior associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will facilitate discussions at the forum.

Health care inequities can hide in plain sight in America. For example, research shows a troubling trend of high maternal and infant mortality rates in the U.S., with Black women at three to four times the risk as White women of death from pregnancy-related causes. The risk persists regardless of socio-economic differences, with Black infants experiencing twice the rate of mortality as non-Hispanic White infants.

In addition, many Black people and other people of color have a distrust of the health care system due to historical inequities in medical research and access to care. These problems challenge public health officials as they attempt to administer COVID vaccinations nationwide.

The Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD Forum on Health Inequities and Disparities will provide an outlet for community members to have an open and honest conversation about trust, race and health. Guests will work together to recommend actionable solutions and strengthen community partnerships. HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Health System and the SIU Foundation are underwriting the cost of the annual forum. Area activists, social service providers and the general public are invited.

The events are named after the first African-American physician in the United States to build and operate a private surgical hospital. The New Home Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Illinois, was established in 1909. Dr. Kenniebrew founded the hospital because he was refused admitting privileges at area hospitals.

“The presentation and community forum honor the legacy of Dr. Kenniebrew as a trailblazer and humanitarian in the region and continue his work of fighting inequities,” said Wendi El-Amin, MD, associate dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at SIU School of Medicine.

Contact Malisa Cruz, mcruz76@siumed.edu to register for the forum. Register for the lecture at siumed.edu/cpd. (Under Learners, click on Conferences.) WebEx information will be sent to guests.

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