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Barriers to care: Wisconsin Leadership Summit looks at healthcare access in communities of color

Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 09:51:34-04

MILWAUKEE — Some of the best minds and professionals are gathering virtually this week for the Wisconsin Leadership Summit to talk about economic, social and healthcare issues for communities of color.

The pandemic has taken a toll on so many lives and families across our city and state.

"I mean it's really been scary to see some of the data coming in," said Gabe Doyle, Director of Health at United Way of Dane County.

He has seen the numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show COVID-19 deaths have reduced life expectancy for all Americans by 1.5 years - but it's even worse for African American men.

"They decreased by two and a half plus years of life expectancy," said Doyle. "That is because of the highly stressed family systems that were created by the structural and systemic inequities."

It's those health inequities that Doyle wants to address at the virtual Wisconsin Leadership Summit called "Barriers to Care."

TMJ4's Charles Benson: "What part of the conversation has been missing so that more people will have access to health care?"

Doyle: "Well, I think it really starts at the decision maker, centering Black, Hispanic, Latinx, southeastern Asian, indigenous."

Voices at the decision-making level.

Doyle says it's not just about access to healthcare, but connecting with the right healthcare professionals, especially when looking at Wisconsin's high infant mortality rate among communities of color, which leads the nation.

"That makes sense for them location-wise, as well as cultural safety-wise. And then thinking about folks like doulas who have shown evidence to better support the birthing journey," said Doyle .

Doyle, who's father Jim Doyle was a two-term Wisconsin governor, knows it will take long-term policy solutions.

"So, not just making sure that their health is managed when they come through the doors," said Doyle. "But what does it look like when they return to the environment and the neighborhoods in which they live and work and play."

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