“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and Latino New Yorkers died from the virus at rates much higher than their representation in the general population,” Fred Mogul writes over at WNYC/Gothamist. “Experts at first theorized that members of these groups worked jobs that put them at greater risk, or that they were more likely to have pervasive chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease. Now researchers and community leaders are assessing another, more nebulous, cause of the disparate death rates: how long it took people to come to the hospital. ‘There are a lot of reasons, but one that has been under-studied is access to care,’ said Dr. Max O’Donnell, a critical care physician at the Columbia University Medical Center and one of the co-authors of a study in The Lancet on the link between the race or ethnicity of Covid-19 patients and the time it took them to receive care. ‘How people have access to primary care doctors or have health insurance or mistrust the medical system are all part of the puzzle.’ O’Donnell and his team found a striking variation by race how long it took the sickest New Yorkers to be admitted to hospitals: for white patients, the median delay was three days of symptoms; for Latinos and Hispanics, it was five days; and for African Americans, it was seven days—or more than twice as long as whites. O’Donnell said other research has concluded that patients who delay care have worse outcomes, though it will take further research to determine how much worse. In the meantime, he said, although ‘we don’t have the body of literature to make certain claims … [that] can’t prevent us from trying to deliver better care … and improve access.’ Still, there’s no question that delaying care has contributed to the death of many people infected by COVID-19.” Fred Mogul, “Black New Yorkers Waited 7 Days On Average To Seek Care For COVID-19. It Cost Some Their Lives,” Gothamist.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder