By J.J. McQueen
Special to the AFRO
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversation around pediatric healthcare for African Americans has been the epi-center of many medical professionals. As a whole, the idea of approaching the health of minorities has slowly become an essential cause. Even with the growing focus of how to address the question and the needs of people of color, one question remains: who do we trust?
At Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, in Baltimore, there’s a lone infection preventionist (I.P.). Her name is Erica Jones, she comes from a lineage of medical professionals dating back to her great-grandfather who was a graduate of the Meharry Medical College and worked as a medical doctor during the yellow fever epidemic of the early 1900s.
I.P.’s work with patients, physicians and government agencies to protect the health of individuals and the public. They gather and analyze infection data, educate medical professionals, facilitate emergency preparedness plans, assist scientists and communicate with agencies like the CDC and the Health Department to help prevent and control outbreak scenarios.
Serving as the outgoing president of the Greater Baltimore chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), Jones has been able to implement ideas that not only enhance the lives of those that she serves with, but also those in her area.
When asked what evidence-based advice she would have to offer the African-American community in relation to COVID-19 she shared these thoughts: “In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 we need to understand the many factors that put our communities at risk. One of the biggest factors has been the spread of misinformation. Secondly, low vaccination rates. Thirdly, multi-generational households with members who may include school aged children, working adults who work outside the home often as front-line staff members, and older adults such as grandparents.
Jones added that underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension have a great impact on the Black community. “In the event that one should fall in one of those health-categories, and should contract COVID-19, suggested CDC quarantine measures should be followed. Specifically, for children that display mild symptoms.”
When asked how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the Black community, Jones suggested going back to the basics of hand washing, staying home when sick, avoiding others and crowds when sick. “If we stick to a few basic steps, we can stop the spread of additional illnesses such as the flu, and the common cold. These same basics also apply to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
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