Nurses at Moab Regional Hospital gathered Tuesday, June 9 for a moment of self-reflection and to affirm their support for the Black Lives Matter movement that, in the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, has been reinvigorated with protests in cities nationwide — Moab included.
Following the form of Colin Kaepernick, former starting NFL quarterback who began taking a knee during pre-game performances of the national anthem in 2016 to protest racism and police brutality, the nurses took a knee together before walking a lap around the hospital campus, holding signs with the words “Black lives matter,” “We’re here for you; here for all,” “Matter is the minimum,” and other messages.
One nurse at the demonstration, Mikenna Clokey, created a sign listing some of the stark contrasts in health outcomes that black Americans experience compared to their white counterparts. Compared to white Americans, black Americans are more likely to be undertreated for pain, die during childbirth, experience the loss of an infant, develop and die from heart disease, become diabetic, receive fewer diagnostic procedures, receive fewer health interventions, not be referred to a specialist, experience mistrust and poor communication during care, and die at an earlier age.
One health outcome not listed on the sign but mentioned during the group’s discussion before the short march was in regard to COVID-19: Black people are dying at a rate double their share of the population, accounting for 24% of deaths in the U.S. caused by the disease but only 13% of the population.
In another racial health disparity, the Navajo Nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus. The nation has experienced an infection rate of 3.4%, according to its department of health, compared to an infection rate of 1.9% in New York City.
San Juan County, which partially overlaps with the Navajo Nation, has reported 337 positive tests for COVID-19 as of June 9. Of those, all but 20 were from the Navajo Nation.
Besides the Native American and black population, other racial and ethnic groups are also afflicted by health disparities.
In Moab, the second largest ethnic group after whites is Hispanics — 88% compared to 10%. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Hispanics experience 35% less heart disease and 49% less cancer than whites but have a 50% higher death rate from diabetes, 24% more poorly controlled high blood pressure, 23% more obesity and 28% less screening for colon and rectal cancers.