Viewpoint: Access to long-COVID care financially, racially disproportionate

Although Black and Hispanic men are disproportionately hospitalized for COVID-19, white women pay visit COVID recovery centers most often, leading leaders to question where underserved populations are getting post-acute care. 

Daniela Lamas, MD, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital, examined this phenomenon in a Sept. 26 opinion piece for The New York Times

Many COVID-19 patients in Brigham and Women's ICU were transported there from hospitals in outlying communities, and many did not speak English, Dr. Lamas said. Black and Hispanic men were a primary demographic, according to Dr. Lamas. 

However, at the hospital's Covid Recovery Center, most patients have been self-referrals who had not been hospitalized for the coronavirus. Eighty percent of the more than 1,200 patients seen from April 2021 to April 2022 were white, and 70 percent were female, Dr. Lamas said. 

Dr. Nisha Viswanathan, MD, director of the long COVID program at the University of California Los Angeles, told Dr. Lamas she disproportionately sees patients who are financially well off and adept at navigating the healthcare system.

Outreach efforts are important to address access barriers such as language and transportation, so Brigham and Women's Covid Recovery Center has built partnerships with community organizations, according to Elizabeth Gay, MD, the center's director. 

“Looking at the data, we know we’re not seeing the patients who bore the brunt of Covid hospitalizations,” Dr. Gay told Dr. Lamas.

 

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