Former Surgeon General Discusses Minority Health Disparities During California Trip
On Thursday during a visit to the Monterey Conference Center in California, former U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novello discussed minority health issues and urged doctors to do a better job of reaching out to underserved communities, the Salinas Californian reports. Novello served as surgeon general from 1990 to 1993 under the George H.W. Bush administration. She spoke at a luncheon of the Community Hospital Foundation and its auxiliary that was attended by more than 300 health professionals (Calderon, Salinas Californian, 1/24).
She noted that rather than solely socioeconomic issues, cultural and communication factors also influence health disparities. Other factors include "poverty, lack of good health insurance, lack of good health care and distrust of the system," she said. She added, "Doctors do not take enough time to tell communities of color what they need to do." According to Novello, communication problems between doctors and minority patients could intimidate patients, making them less likely to return for care (Taylor, Monterey County Herald, 1/25).
Novello also suggested that hospitals work with medical schools to recruit minority students and award scholarships, if necessary. She said, "Let's get to (minority) students early and make them believe medicine is a wonderful field they can make a difference in" (Salinas Californian, 1/24).