New Report Examines Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes and Rehab Medicine Access
As the pandemic has spread across the United States, it has become abundantly clear that Black patients, inclusive of African Americans, have experienced a higher morbidity and mortality. A new report by researchers including Drs. Julie Silver and Ross Zafonte from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School/Spaulding Rehabilitation together with colleagues from Yale School of Medicine, the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Long School of Medicine, and a private practice in New Orleans, was published titled “African American Patient Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes - A Call to Action for Physiatrists to Provide Rehabilitation Care to Black Survivors in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
For all of us across the PM&R discipline, it is clear that the COVID-19 Pandemic has exposed inequities to care that fundamentally have negative impacts on outcomes for Black patient populations. In this report, we feel is incumbent on all Physiatrists to act now to address these inequities both in the near and short term,” said Julie Silver, MD, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Physiatrists can provide care for the sequelae faced by survivors and prioritize rehabilitation services. Programs must be administered in a way that is geographically accessible to Black communities and demonstrate cultural competence. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a core aspect of medical rehabilitation. The fundamental tools and interventions of pulmonary rehabilitation are extremely important and have a new role in the treatment of COVID-19.
The report documents that Black populations have a higher percentage of COVID-19 confirmed cases, confirmed deaths, and case mortality on a county-level analysis. These findings support many city and statewide analyses, and there is a need for targeted resources, including rehabilitation care, to examine and address this at-risk population.