RHODE ISLAND: DEMAND HEALTH EQUITY - SURVIVE COVID19
The COVID19 pandemic that we are currently facing has pushed communities within Rhode Island’s urban core into a state of despair. The social, economic, education and healthcare disparities that had already afflicted communities of color and those Rhode Island families living paycheck to paycheck are now widening, compounded by a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions, growing social isolation and misinformation, our communities are at risks of confronting extraordinary barriers to COVID19 testing, transportation and language services support, and equitable healthcare.
We understand that the State of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Department of Health have shared an intention to expand testing services,
We are concerned about the lack of specification around plans to expand testing in the urban core communities, which have been most impacted by COVID19. For instance, it has recently been reported that 45% of total confirmed COVID19 cases represent latinos, who represent 15% of the state's total population.
We call on our leaders to join us in assessing the testing challenges faced within this crisis through a socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and healthcare equity lens, and by doing so, to consider the following improvements to our current testing system:
- Additional testing sites within walking distance of urban core communities
- Transparency as it relates to testing selection/exclusion “criteria” with real-time visibility of any changes that will take place should the health crisis worsen.
While we understand that the State of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Department of Health have communicated an intention to extend additional transportation resources,
We have concerns that the current MTM system may be insufficient in supplying the demand for transportation to testing sites for symptomatic individuals with medicare, as the number of cases increases. Additionally, the program is not accessible by everyone. The lack of transportation for many, may result in symptomatic individuals using public transportation to reach testing sites. Currently, 15 persons are allowed on every public bus, which predisposes non-infected persons using the public transport system to close proximity encounters with potentially infected persons. This is unacceptable from a public health standpoint, and predisposes vulnerable communities to higher infection rates.
We call on our leaders to join us in assessing the transportation challenges faced within this crisis through a socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and healthcare equity lens, and by doing so, to consider the following improvements to our current transportation system:
- Mobile testing vehicles to reach vulnerable populations such as, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children.
- A novel public transportation system solely dedicated to securely transporting symptomatic persons who are dependent upon the public transportation system to testing sites, and a system that would be available to all residents, citizens, and immigrant members of our community. We believe that there are sufficient resources, including state/city owned buses, that can be repurposed to support communities at this time, and to protect them from future resurgences, which that could arise from within the public transport system.
While we understand that the State of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Department of Health have communicated an intention to utilize existing translational services and to possibly expand the use of additional translational resources,
We have concerns that the translation of public health information has not been translated into the many languages represented within our communities. Additionally, outreach efforts to diverse communities in their respective languages has been minimal at best. Lastly, there has not been a reliable system communicated to the public, which would direct them to supportive translation and interpretation services as they navigate through the testing system, transportation system, and other healthcare areas.
We call on our leaders to join us in assessing the lack of accessible translation and interpretation services within this crisis through a socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and healthcare equity lens, and by doing so, to consider the following improvements to our current translation services/programs:
- Expanded translation and interpretation services for all state-run hotlines, communication outreach efforts, and other programs pertaining to public health information, testing, transportation, healthcare coordination, and essential services.
We, as a community, stand in solidarity, and request that state leadership take proactive measures to effect these programmatic and structural changes, which are needed to ensure equitable care for all communities in the State of Rhode Island.