The Relationship Between Race and Healthcare

As part of our Future of Healthcare series, Steve Adubato sits down with Clenton Coleman, MD, Chief of Nephrology, Holy Name Medical Center, to discuss how race and healthcare are directly related, why African Americans are less likely to be organ donors and how repealing the Affordable Care Act will affect the nation.

2/2/19 #234






"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. We're coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Brick City, Newark, New Jersey. It's our honor to introduce, joining us for the first time, Doctor Clenton Coleman. He's with... affiliated with Holy Name Medical Center. And your area of expertise is? Internal Medicine and Nephrology. Which is kidney disease and high blood pressure. But you're also very aware of, concerned about, and need to talk about, want to talk about, the fact that race and healthcare... directly related. How so? You know, with the United States, there's been some history of mistrust in the healthcare system. We know that black males as a demographic have the lowest life expectancy of any major demographic group. They're more likely to develop cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. And these are all preventable diseases. And they're also less likely to be involved in the organ donation process. The reasons for that are many. Partly it's education, lack of access to healthcare, or mistrust of the healthcare system. So, you know, there's been a lot of race issues, and as we know, race issues in society have always paralleled race issues in healthcare, which has led to a mistrust... Sure. ...of the healthcare system. Doctor, let's break this down a little bit. We were talking before we got on the air, 13 percent of the population? Right. African-American. 4 percent? Yes. Of all physicians African-American? Right. Why is that relevant? It's extremely important. By the way, why is the number so low? Well there's many reasons, right? and I... Sorry for asking two questions at once. Go ahead. Yeah. But I preface to say that getting into medical school is difficult for everyone, right? So medical schools, as we know, have been segregated until the late 1960s. So with that, there's been a late start. And there's only been a few institutions that accepted black students to go into medical school. Right. There's also been cuts in medical education financing. Medical school is really expensive. So most students leave with about $200,000 in debt. Also there have been shifts away from minority health programs and affirmative action. So these young, talented black children aren't able to go through medical school for... The opportunities aren't there? Exactly. For many reasons. So a black... a patient who happens to be African-American? He or she... and by the way, is it more African-American men that are distrustful? Yes. If you will? Definitely. And would...? All things being, quote-unquote, "equal"? Right. Big leap, big question. Yeah. Would rather have a doctor of color?..."