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Today’s top news highlights: Addressing racism in maternity care, group forms to protect health professionals from retaliation


 

Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Addressing racism in the maternal mortality crisis

The emerging racial disparities in COVID-19 incidence and outcomes in the United States are on a collision course with long-standing racial disparities in U.S. maternal care and mortality. “The saying is that ‘the virus doesn’t discriminate,’ but it understands our biases, right? So, the virus takes advantage of the weaknesses in our system,” said Joia A. Crear-Perry, MD, an ob.gyn. and founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, a New Orleans–based research, training, and advocacy organization working to optimize black maternal and infant health. This article is part of an ongoing feature series on the crisis in maternal mortality in the United States. Here we explore potential solutions for addressing the inequities as proposed by thought leaders and key stakeholders. Read more.

A ‘Beacon’ for physicians, nurses facing retaliation

Sejal Hathi, MD, and two colleagues had long kicked around the idea of starting a nonprofit group that would center on civic and legal advocacy. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the three friends – who have a mix of legal, medical, and advocacy backgrounds – began chatting by email and through Zoom video meetings about how to make the plan a reality. The new organization – named Beacon – quickly mobilized, assembled their team, and launched a website. Beacon’s first project now aims to highlight and protect the legal rights of medical professionals who speak out about personal protection equipment supply and other matters of public concern related to coronavirus. “There are a flurry of reports coming our way about physicians and nurses, as well as other health care workers, who are for whatever reason being disciplined or retaliated against for simply seeking appropriate safety policies at their workplaces,” Dr. Hathi said. “What we’ve found is that many of them don’t even know what their options look like. Doctors, nurses, health care workers are not the typical type to engage politically, to speak out, [or to] advocate for themselves.” Read more.

COVID-19 ravages the Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation has the most cases of the COVID-19 virus of any tribe in the United States, and numbers as of May 31, 2020, are 5,348, with 246 confirmed deaths. These devastating numbers, which might be leveling off, are associated with Navajo people having higher-than-average rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is compounded with 30%-40% of homes having no electricity or running water, and a poverty rate of about 38%. “We endured and learned from each Naayee, hunger, and death to name a few adversities. The COVID-19 pandemic, or “Big Cough” (Dikos Nitsaa’igii -19 in Navajo language), is a monster confronting the Navajo today. It has had significant impact on our nation and people,” Mary Hasbah Roessel, MD, a Navajo board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Santa Fe, N.M., wrote in a commentary on MDedge. Read more.

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