Expert Says Pandemic Put a ‘Lens’ on Health Disparities for People Outside the Medical Field

The director at the Center for Cancer Health Equity, The University of Ohio Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses how the pandemic put a spotlight on issues of equity within the health care system.

One positive takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that it brought attention to issues of health care equity, said Chastity M. Washington, MPH, CHES, director at the Center for Cancer Health Equity, The University of Ohio Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital.

Washington presented on Cancer Health Equity in the COVID-19 Era at the 5th Annual School of Nursing Oncology. In an interview with Oncology Nursing News®, Washington discussed how the pandemic brought public awareness to health disparities and how she hopes to see the momentum for change continue in the post-COVID era.

“People saw, in real time almost, the impacts of these health disparities.When you saw those COVID-19 numbers going up everyday on the news, on social media, and the stories about how it affects Black and brown people more than others. That, along with other things throughout the pandemic year, has really gone a long way to sort of support our efforts in health disparities. There’s been a lot of movements, a lot of change, within the health care institution and other places, there’s been diversity and equity work that has been taking place.

“So there’s been a spotlight on that, and a lot of resources and efforts put toward that, so I think that is one positive, as well as the expansion of telemedicine abilities and things we can bill for. I think those were good things out of this horrible pandemic and I hope they will keep those telemedicine expansions and that the momentum around diversity equity and health disparity work will continue.”