Things That Matter

#ImmigrantHealthHeroes Is Highlighting The Immigrant Health Care Workers Keeping Us All Safe

The COVID-19 pandemic is giving people a better understanding of the work health care workers do to keep the public safe. Their responsibilities have life and death consequences and adding a pandemic on top of that exacerbates the already demanding nature of the job. Now, add an immigration crisis and crackdown.

Immigrant health care workers are getting some special love with #ImmigrantHealthHeroes.

Immigrants make up a large portion of the health care industry. According to the New American Economy, 16.4 percent, or 2.8 million, of health care workers are foreign-born people. In New York, the hardest-hit state in the U.S., 34.3 percent of health care workers are foreign-born people. For New Jersey, 30.6 percent of their health care workers are foreign-born and 31.6 percent of health care workers in California are foreign-born people.

The social media movement is giving people a chance to learn more about what our health care workers are dealing with.

“I’ve been volunteering with our free clinic, which is called East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership,” medical student Denisse Rojas told Senator Chuc Schumer. “We serve uninsured patients in East Harlem so folks who unfortunately otherwise may not be able to see a doctor. Because of COVID, we’ve been doing a lot of our appointments over telehealth. The common medical conditions include diabetes and hypertension.”

Communities of color are some of the hardest-hit places in the country. Chicago has seen a surge in cases in the Latino community while the rest of the city is experiencing a decrease in cases. Diabetes is one disease that COVID-19 exacerbates leading to the death of a positive patient.

More than 202,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are joined in battle on the front lines against COVID-19.

DACA recipients, who are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide the fate of the program, make up more than 202,000 health care workers. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the case at any moment. Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are anxiously awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court while doing their part to combat the health pandemic.

The hashtag is bringing attention to Senate Bill 386, which wants to prevent most immigrants from getting residency through employment.

SB 386 is seeking to limit immigration over the next 10 years by no longer allowing immigrants to earn residency and green cards through employment. Indian and Chinese nationals would be exempt meaning they would still be allowed to earn a green card through employment. Currently, the law states that of 140,000 green cards issued through employment a year, there is a cap of 7 percent of the green cards per country. According to the State Department, India, China, and the Phillippines have the longest application lines with India’s stretching for more than half a century.

SB 386 would allow for more people from certain countries to obtain green cards through employment. To be exact, the bill would eliminate the 7 percent limit entirely. However, the language excludes all but two countries on the planet. This would mean that cities like Miami that rely heavily on employing people from Latin America would suffer and struggle to compete globally.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, let’s honor and show love to all of the health care workers fighting the good fight to keep us safe.

Thank you to all of the health care workers out there. Thank you for keeping us safe and fighting to protect us.

READ: Latinas Are Sharing Appreciation Posts For Their Hardworking Immigrant Mothers And We All Need Somebody To Lean On

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A Latina Nurse Named Helen Cordova Was the First Person to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in California

Things That Matter

A Latina Nurse Named Helen Cordova Was the First Person to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in California

Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images

On Monday, the first person in California was administered the COVID-19 vaccine and her name was Helen Cordova. Cordova is an intensive care nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. She is also a brave woman who deserves to be celebrated for her courage.

The doctors, nurses and elected officials (including California Governor Gavin Newson) applauded after Cordova received the vaccine.

“I’m very excited that we have the vaccine, because it provides hope for the future,” Cordova said afterward, according to The Los Angeles Times.

But after she got the vaccine, Cordova went back to work–business as usual. Four other healthcare workers received the vaccine after her, including a respiratory therapy technician named Raul Aguilar.

It is significant that the first Californian to receive the vaccine was Latina, as Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

Latinos make up 39% of California’s population and 40% of frontline workers in California. 58% of the California COVID-19 cases and 48% of COVID-19 related deaths have been from Latinos. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reports that California Latinos are more than twice as likely as white Californians to contract the virus.

To make matters worse, Latinos are more likely to be suspicious of the coronavirus vaccine. “In communities of color in particular, there is a real history of abuse by the medical system that creates a potentially higher level of skepticism,” said Dr. Robert Wachter chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco to the LA Times.

Hopefully, patients like Helen Cordova will inspire confidence in the Latino community that the vaccine is, indeed, both safe and effective.

Shortly after Cordova received the vaccine, Governor Newsome tweeted out: “History made.”

But earlier in the day at Kaiser Permanente, Governor Newsome was slightly more somber, as California (like every other state) is facing its most grim stretch of the pandemic so far. In the last week, the Golden State averaged 32,858 new COVID-19 cases a day.

“We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic,” he said. “So today is hopeful, and it’s reason to be optimistic, but let’s be mindful of where we really are.”

Three other California cities received shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, including San Diego, San Francisco and Eureka. According to reports, the vaccine will become available to the general public in the spring.

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Credit: Getty Images

In this unprecedented year that has pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry past its breaking point, a new kind of medical school is making history. A medical school that caters to Indigenous American medical students.

The school is called Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN), and it will be the first tribally-associated medical school in the U.S.

Largely the brainchild of former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, the project aims to combine the practices of traditional healing practice of the Cherokee people with Western medical teachings.

Bill John Baker’s original goal was to invest money into the Cherokee Nation medical system. His fundraising efforts drew the attention of Oklahoma State University, who approached the then-principal Chief with the idea of opening up a medical school on reservation lands. To him, the decision was a no-brainer.

“After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers. This is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors,” Bill John Baker told Medscape.

As recent reports have detailed, Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC, Indigenous Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 at 3.5 times the rate of white Americans. This is largely due to lingering historical inequities and structural failings that negatively impact the overall health of Indigenous Americans.

One of the solutions to this institutional failing is to recruit and train more doctors of color–in this case, more Indigenous American doctors. As of now, 0.4% of doctors in the U.S. identify themselves as being American Indian or Alaska Native.

Since COMCN is a state school, non-Indigenous students are welcome to study at the school as well. According to the university’s states, 22% of its students identify as Native American, while they make up less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The devastation that COVID-19 has wrought globally has spurred an uptick in medical school applications.

In what has been dubbed the “Fauci Effect”, the number of potential students applying to medical school is up 18% this year from last year. It seems that this global health crisis has sparked a desire in certain people dedicate their lives to medicine.

So COMCN couldn’t come at a better time. America needs more Indigenous doctors and COMCN is here to teach them.

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