January 25, 2010

Film, workshops to address racism in health care

Producer/director Crystal Emery’s film The Deadliest Disease in America will be screened at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, in Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus.

The 55-minute film will be followed by four workshops: “What Racism Looks Like in Health Care Delivery and Why You Should Report It,” “Doctor/Patient Communication,” “Empowering Community Organizations to Work With Legislators for Change” and “Prostate Cancer: Access Denied.” This event is designed to bring together medical students, faculty and East Baltimore residents to conduct robust dialogues about the topic.

The screening will initiate the Annual Health Equity, Access and Diversity (Moving A.H.E.A.D.) Film and Lecture Series at Johns Hopkins Medicine and is sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Cultural Competence, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and the schools of Public Health and Nursing.

The documentary follows four individuals, including the filmmaker, whose personal stories add to the national debate on our country’s health care crisis. Emery, whose arms and legs are paralyzed as a result of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of muscular dystrophy, shares her own experience as an African-American encountering racism while navigating the health care system. She says she hopes that sharing these stories will stimulate conversations that move individuals to action.

Thomas LaVeist, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, says, “Racial and ethnic disparities in health care quality have been well documented, and as minorities eventually become the majority of the U.S. population, the health status of our nation will be a reflection of the health status of racial and ethnic minorities. The implications for raising health care costs are clear,” he says. “The Deadliest Disease in America is an important step in bringing that awareness into the mainstream of our training programs.”

“Racism is indeed a deadly disease that can affect all of us regardless of race, color or ethnicity,” says David G. Nichols, vice dean for education and professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine in the School of Medicine. “Like any disease, the first step toward healing is to acknowledge that the disease exists and to begin talking about it openly. Crystal Emery’s film bravely opens that door for a fearless conversation.”

The Deadliest Disease in America is produced by URU, The Right to Be, a nonprofit, community-based organization that focuses on reducing disparities and achieving greater health equity in the United States.

The evening will end with a Question & Answer session. For more information about the film and to view a trailer, go to www.urutherighttobe.org. To RSVP for the event, go to www.urutherighttobe.org/register or call 443-287-5569.