He was shot by a stranger, but was treated like a criminal when he reached an ambulance

When Greg Jackson Jr. thinks of the night he was shot, the most painful part of the memory is not that he nearly died. It’s not the six surgeries he underwent, six months chained to the bed, or the image of his younger cousin who used a shirt as a harness to save his life. It’s not even a thought of an attacker.

What causes a flood of resentment is his admission to the hospital. After he was jumped from the ambulance on a stretcher, still dressed in bloody clothes, police officers, not doctors or nurses, greeted him and began to ask him questions. Where was he when the shots sounded? What role did he play in the quarrel? Why did he come out so late?
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“At first I was seen as a criminal and then as a human being.” “I was first treated as a criminal and then a human,” says Jackson, who was walking home from an engagement with his cousins ​​when he was shot dead on April 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. men arguing. One of the men panicked and opened fire, opening two arteries in Jackson’s right calf.

Jackson says he endured three rockets before being evaluated by paramedics who did not interfere with police. By the time he was taken to the operating room, doctors told him he had lost so much blood that without surgery he would have had to live about 26 minutes. At the time Jackson was 28, he oversaw efforts to prevent gun violence for the nonprofit Organization of Action. But in the ambulance he was a young black man, he said, he was seen as a suspect and not as an outsider.

“I will never forget that I could have died during the interrogation,” he says.

“Mature space for prejudices and differences”

Eight years later, gun violence in the United States has risen to record levels. In 2020, the number of homicides increased by almost 30% compared to 2019, the highest figure in a year in the history of the FBI numbers from the agency. Exacerbated by the pandemic and the convergence of other factors, the surge disproportionately affects black Americans, who say supporters suffer 18 times more gunshot wounds than white people, and what happens next.

Read more: Children and teenagers are shot in record numbers

In Philadelphia, Dr. Theodore Corbyn saw with his own eyes how young black men with gunshot or stab wounds were treated as suspects, even if they were admitted to ambulances as victims. As a black man, Corbyn says he speaks out in those moments of injustice, but some colleagues don’t. “The emergency department is a very fast-paced and dynamic environment,” says Corbin, a professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. “There is a comfortable space to show bias and disagreement.” This dynamic represents deeper levels of institutional racism that go beyond the actions of a single provider, according to Dr. John Rich, a professor at the Drexel School of Public Health.

“There is an opinion that young black men are not just shot. They are being shot, ”Rich said. “Providers believe it could never have happened to them if they hadn’t somehow looked for it.”

Craig F. Walker – Boston Globe / Getty ImagesDr. Alain Geary during a vigil in Boston on June 4, 2020 in support of racial justice following the murder of George Floyd.

It is no coincidence that such an attitude exists, the researchers say, given who the suppliers are. Of the approximately 919,000 practicing physicians in the country, only about 5% are black and more than 56% are white, according to the latest data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) numbers for those whose race or ethnicity is known. This spring, UCLA study it turned out that over 120 years the percentage of black doctors in the U.S. had risen to 5% from 1%, and the percentage of black men had not increased since 1940. even wider. Of the more than 43,000 emergency medicine practitioners in 2018, about 69% were white and 4.5% were black, according to study posted in American Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2020.

A year and a half later with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic it is impossible to miss the impact of race on health care. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s black Americans twice as likely like white Americans who will die from COVID-19, and even more likely they will be hospitalized from the virus. However, black and Hispanic people are less likely to be vaccinated against the disease than people of other racial and ethnic groups, according to Disease Control Center,, Kaiser Family Foundation and several research. They may also be less likely to vaccinate their children, which health workers believe will make black families even more vulnerable to the virus. In the new survey Of the more than 1,400 parents of children in Illinois under the age of 18, researchers found that the most severely affected by the pandemic demographic groups had the highest fluctuations in the COVID-19 vaccine for children. Nearly half of black parents were reluctant to vaccinate their child, compared with 26% of white parents, the survey found, attributing vaccine fluctuations to distrust of government and research.

As a reason for their distrust, lead many black adults 1932-1972 Taskigi’s experimentin which hundreds of black men in Alabama were used to study syphilis without their knowledge and consent. But experts say another reason for widespread mistrust is more modern: the shortage of black doctors across the country. “It’s really dangerous and sad,” said Dr. Rachel Villanueva, president of the National Medical Association, which represents black doctors and patients. “It’s a time when people really need to trust their doctors and health officials.”

Read more: Black veterinarians say the field requires racial diversity

Study after study found that racial inequality permeates health care. Widely cited 2002 report from the Institute of Medicine recorded numerous medical procedures or conditions in which black people received inferior care, including heart disease and cancer. “It’s not just conspiracy theories,” Villanueva says. “That’s what people went through.”

In September, Yale University researchers found that even black children were more likely than whites in emergency departments. restrained restraint because of an alleged threat to himself and others. And when it comes to pain management, new study found that from 2007 to 2014, in the early stages of the national opioid crisis, primary care physicians were more likely to prescribe opioids to their white patients who complained of new low back pain than to their black, Asian, and Hispanic patients. Patients of different colors were more likely to receive Advil or another less potent analgesic. Dr Dan Lee, the study’s author, says the results show that doctors’ bias probably led them to determine that “some patients’ pain deserves opioids and others’ pain doesn’t.”

Living with their pain

For Rachel Jeter, a 29-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, it means living with unpredictable bouts of sharp, shooting pains on her face caused by trigeminal neuralgia. During the first ambulance visit in 2016, shortly after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, the doctor handed her 800 mg. ibuprofen before sending home. At the second visit in 2017, she was not prescribed anything.

When Jeter scrolled through his support groups for trigeminal neuralgia on Facebook, the discrepancy was hard to ignore. Most members were white and were positive about ambulance visits due to their outbreaks. They received opioid prescriptions and compassion, says Jetter, who received neither. “It’s impossible to be black and have any chronic diseases and not notice the imbalances,” says Jetter, who left these support groups because of differences.

When the pain comes, Jeter says she feels like her face is electrocuted, sometimes lasting an hour. She cannot touch her face, blow her nose or put on glasses until the pain subsides. “I didn’t have to live that way,” Jeter says.

Read more: Why do so many Americans still distrust COVID-19 vaccines

In Virginia, 43-year-old Jaime Sanders also thought twice before seeing a doctor, even if throbbing pain in chronic migraine attacks causes vomiting and diarrhea. Most often she has sought emergency care in the past, she said doctors believed she faked pain to get drugs. To be more serious, Sanders began applying mascara and intentionally looking more presentable before leaving his home.

“If I showed up in pajamas, in a hood and slippers, they might assume I was low-income and would treat me less.” “If I showed up in pajamas, a hood and slippers, they might assume I’m low-income and they treat me less,” she says. “It’s already hard enough when I appear with a polished look.” She weighs whether the visit is worth battling a burning headache to put in the extra effort. In most cases this is not the case. “I prefer to stay home and suffer,” she says.

Jaime grinders
Courtesy of Jaime SandersJaime grinders

Not in two years he was shot, Greg Jackson Jr. not only learned to walk again, he completed his first half marathon even when he was never a runner. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could survive this moment and not let it slow down,” he says.

In August, he became the new executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, a nonprofit organization led by blacks working to end gun violence. The work introduced him to many people who talked about how unfair hospital treatment exacerbated their injuries and worsened their chances of a healthy recovery. He is concerned that these meetings may in fact cause more violence.

“If you don’t feel like your government or your hospitals are concerned about saving your life, you should do your best to protect yourself,” he says. “So if we don’t do better with the victims, we basically encourage them to act.”

Potential ripple effect

The ripple effect can be huge. According to the Arms Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks shooting incidents, this year at least 15,000 people have been killed with guns and more than 30,000 injured. Jackson wonders how many of those who got into the waiting rooms of the ambulance were subjected to the hostility he faced while fighting for his life.

Vilaneva says health outcomes improve in color communities when health care workers better reflect patient populations, but there is an additional hurdle due to the lack of role models or teachers. “We always say,‘ You can’t be what you don’t see, ’” she says.

The pandemic also did not help. The AAMC says that by 2034, the U.S. could cut 124,000 doctors. The burnout, which has worsened due to the pandemic, could cause doctors to cut working hours or retire earlier than usual, AAMC Senate President David Scarton said in May.

But the national movement for racial justice is caused The murders of George Floyd in May 2020 gave many in the world of medicine sparkles of hope. Villanueva, Corbin, and Rich saw colleagues pause to reflect on their biases in treating colored patients. And a large number of health organizations have begun to look inside and ask if more can be done to improve justice and increase the number of under-represented minority groups, Villanueva says. On September 21, the AAMC announced that it had a health center was established to address health inequalities through research and collaboration with public health organizations and community organizations.

“It made people more aware of what had been in our faces for so long,” Corbin says. “Slowly in some spaces it’s happening.”

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