All the panelists agreed that building trust with the public will be key to getting cancer care back on track.
“I don’t think anyone trusts the healthcare community right now, but we already had this baseline distrust of healthcare among many minority communities, and now with COVID-19, the African American community in particular is seeing people go into the hospital and never come back,” said Richardson.
For Warner, the onus really falls on healthcare institutions. “We have to be proactive and not leave the burden of deciding when and how to return to care up to patients,” she said.
“What we need to focus on as much as possible is to get people to realize it is safe to come see the doctor,” said Johns Hopkins oncologist Brawley. “We have to make it safe for them to come see us, and then we have to convince them it is safe to come see us.”
Venturing out to her mammography appointment in early June, Richardson said she felt safe. “Everything was just the way it was supposed to be, everyone was masked, everyone was washing their hands,” she said.
Yet, by mid-June she had contracted COVID-19. “I don’t know where I got it,” she said. “No matter how careful you are, understand that if you’re in a total red spot, as I am, you can just get it.”
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