Bridging the gaps

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By JILL BOOGREN

612 MASH aims to bridge the gaps in health care, including addressing the racial disparities evident in the system.

According to Kimberly Wooster, BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] patients they see are often treated with what they call “Treat ‘n’ Turf” – “treated for their immediate injury then… turfed out of the hospital with, like, 18 pages of instructions but no real help.” 612 MASH will take care of what they can within their scope of practice then remind the patient or guardian to make an appointment to see a physician or specialist as needed – and help them do it. Even Wooster, who has been in medical research health care for 10 years and is well-practiced at navigating health care and insurance and hospitals, still learns on the fly.

“Okay, where do you expect this person to find this resource if it’s hard for ME to find it, and I already know what I’m looking for?” asked Wooster.

In fact, 612 MASH is doing a case study based on the BIPOC patients they treat on the disparities in health care they’ve faced in hospital establishments. Wooster is looking at the actual discharge instructions, consulting with nurse practitioners and physicians to determine whether this is the standard of care and whether it’s applied uniformly to BIPOC and white people, and engaging with allies in the medical community to see if they received quality of care and appropriate follow-up – beyond just being safely discharged.

Wooster speaks of the importance of closing cultural gaps, which can have dire consequences in health care and which are often dismissed for Black Americans.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, if you’re not born somewhere else you don’t have a real culture that’s different from ours.’ So not extending that grace of cultural understanding, not extending that grace of ‘We come from different places, but my job is to bridge that communication gap as your health care provider,’” she said. Once justice is served at George Floyd Square, Wooster wants to start working with health care providers to bridge that gap.

“We need to take a strong look in the mirror and really either internalize those lessons we were all taught in undergrad in medical school, or get out of the medical field,” she said. “’Cause all your patients are patients. I don’t care if you don’t like them, don’t know them, don’t understand them, you’re gonna have to find a way to cross that bridge. ‘Cause they cross the bridge by getting to you.”

612 MASH is also working on developing community education, including basic first aid and training that can buy time in an emergency.

“It can be 10 minutes before an ambulance gets to you. If you have someone having a heart attack or experiencing an overdose, the training I can give you is not going to make you a medical professional, but it will buy you that time,” said Wooster.

Part of the 612 MASH mission is to “accelerate the People’s control for equality.” Bridging the gaps is vital to moving forward. For more information, see www.612MASH.org or contact 612mash@gmail.com.

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