My Mission to Combat Racial Disparities in Healthcare
Intersectionality: Why is it such an important topic to explore in the healthcare industry? As many of you know, March is Women’s History Month. To show our support as well as shed some light on intersectionality and its impact in healthcare, DispatchHealth is showcasing one woman’s inspiring journey. Latricia Lacy is an APP in the Las Vegas market and joined DispatchHealth in January 2019. Here’s her story:
“My name is Latricia, and I am a nurse practitioner. I have been a registered nurse for a total of 13 years with the last 5 years being dedicated to working as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I decided to become a nurse because I had multiple family members who worked in healthcare, one being an aunt who I looked up to and who also was a registered nurse. The road to becoming an NP has been long, as I started as a phlebotomist then worked up to RN then eventually NP, and I am currently pursuing my DNP.
Both of my parents were born in Louisiana. My father was born on a plantation, and both of my parents attended segregated schools and were not offered the ability to desegregate until their senior year in high school. Although both of my parents experienced racism and discrimination growing up in the south, they raised us to love and treat everyone the same. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I later moved to Las Vegas when I was six years old after my parents decided to relocate for work. During my first year in Las Vegas, I had my first encounter with racism as we relocated to a predominantly white neighborhood which was a contrast from the diverse community in New Orleans. I was often reminded that I was different and not welcomed in my community as one of the only Black children in the neighborhood. I decided to go into healthcare after experiencing an encounter at a local hospital where I was provided with less-than-adequate care due to the color of my skin and the assumption that both of my parents did not have adequate health insurance—although they did. After that encounter, I knew that racism and discrimination in healthcare was real, and that I wanted to be a part of the change.
My experience as an African American provider has been mostly positive. I have experienced the occasional patient who requests not to have a Black provider or nurse, or for an older or more experienced provider, but I have never let it influence my ability to care for my patients. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed other medical professionals practice with discriminatory and racist tendencies. As a Black woman and a Black medical professional I have found myself working hard to fight against such sentiments and behaviors in order to offer all patients quality healthcare. I urge all my colleagues to do the same. My experiences with discrimination in the medical profession have taught me to be a bigger voice and advocate for people who look like me and for myself.
I want everyone to know that every Black person does not have the same experience, but our experiences are our own. I want people to know that Black people do sometimes come off as defensive, hostile, or even angry because of countless negative experiences in regards to racism and discrimination in healthcare. The many disparities that exist in healthcare amongst Blacks are a result of historical discrimination and mistreatment. Today Blacks and people of color are disproportionately dying of COVID-19 and disparities based on race are a factor. I would like to highlight Mary Eliza Mahoney who was the first AA nurse to graduate from an American School of Nursing in the US in 1879. She later went on to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) as Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC) did not allow AA nurses into their association.”