PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - If COVID-19 has shown us one thing, it’s highlighting just how bad the health care system may be failing communities of color over any other group.
Phoenix is one of five cities chosen for a study looking at lung health and minority communities have higher infection and death rates.
“There was a part in my life when I couldn’t afford health care,” said Aldophus Kendell.
Kendell knows all too well what it means to go without.
“You know it’s hard being in between work,” said Kendell.
But going without health care and skipping annual checkups was by far the worst.
“Yes, I have enough conditions to be in the encyclopedia,” said Kendell.
Since the outbreak, people like Kendell, minorities, often on a lower social-economic level, have been getting sicker and dying faster.
“They are more likely to contract a chronic respiratory disease which puts them again at significant risk not only of COVID-19 but the severe side effects of that,” said Rudy Anderson.
There are several barriers making it harder for minorities to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anderson is with the CHEST Foundation, a national nonprofit taking a closer looking into lung health in the Valley this week.
“To really listen in to many of the folks that have been disadvantaged or felt marginalized,” said Anderson.
They’re also raising awareness about the virus, which can leave worse lung damage than smoking as seen repeatedly in chest X-rays.
“But also due to the fact, there’s a lack of trust and build up between the health care system and patients,” said Anderson.
Kendell now works with a coalition of groups, including the CHEST Foundation, to get minorities vaccinated by addressing the mistrust rooted in structural racism.
“We see this disparity, it’s now the Jim Crow of health care,” said Kendell.
The group will be taking the information they compile this week, look at the biggest issues facing Valley communities and fund new initiatives and programs addressing specific community needs.