February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements of Black Americans and recognition of their central role in our country’s history. A different theme is assigned to Black History Month each year, and in 2022, it is “Black Health and Wellness”. According to the Association for the Study of Life of African American Life and History (ASALH), this theme acknowledges the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners and “considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.” As healthcare specialists ourselves, DispatchHealth is excited to celebrate Black History Month and this year’s theme by acknowledging a few of the many Black achievements in medicine and healthcare.
1891: The First Black-Owned Hospital Is Opened
Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., apprenticed with a surgeon, earned his medical degree, and started working as a surgeon himself in 1884. However, discrimination laws at the time barred Black doctors from working on a hospital staff, so Dr. Williams opened his own practice—and the nation’s first, Black-owned hospital—in 1891.
1939: A Discovery in Blood Plasma
While attending medical school, Dr. Charles Drew developed an interest in blood transfusions and the properties of blood. This led to him discovering that plasma could be dried and reconstituted when needed, making it an effective substitute for whole blood transfusions.
1986: The Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is Established
The Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was created in 1986 “to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.” Dr. Herbert Nickens was named the first director.
1990: The First Black Woman to Direct a Public Health Service Bureau
Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston is an accomplished medical professional who published the results of a groundbreaking national study on the treatment of sickle cell disease in children. In 1990, she became both the first woman and the first Black woman to direct a public health service bureau as director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. In this role, she focused on improving healthcare services for minority and underserved communities.
While these and many other impressive achievements in medicine have helped bridge racial disparities, steps can continue being taken to make healthcare more accessible for Black Americans. Patients, healthcare providers, insurance companies, and other parties must promote health equity by addressing bias and discrimination and making an effort to tear down systematic barriers within the healthcare system.
How DispatchHealth Helps With Accessible Healthcare
DispatchHealth helps make healthcare more accessible by bringing the power of the hospital to the comfort of our patients’ homes. We recognize that getting to a doctor’s office or urgent care center can be difficult for many reasons, but this doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t receive the proper care they need. DispatchHealth makes it easier by providing comprehensive in-home testing and treatment for a range of conditions. We even send detailed reports to patients’ primary care physicians, call in any necessary prescriptions, and work with many major insurance providers. Explore our site to learn more about our services or request a visit here.
For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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