Why the gap in black and white health care matters

Numbers catch our eyes and imagination. They are magnets – more powerful magnets sometimes than words.

Consider the stories today that talk about the growth in the gap in health conditions for blacks and whites in Chicago.

The Sun-Times’ front page headline: “Health Care Gap Kills 3,200 Black Chicagoans a Year – and the Gap is Growing.”

Catches you and connects you, doesn’t it.

But the story was about a report and that’s what the newspapers and radio did today. What comes next is what matters. Stories that paint the reality of lives lost without good cause: struggles to overcome widening deficits in health care. Individual stories. Stories about communities; hospitals, individuals. Stories that don’t disappear.

Here is what I can imagine seeing.

Tracking the life of a clinic that sees these people who go unseen by most health care providers. Tracking the life of a pregnant woman who has just shown up for care in her 6th month or has never seen a doctor until the day she gives birth. Tracking the work of a nurse, a doctor, a community worker as they go about dealing with people who do not get the care they need.

Searching with someone for care they know they need but don’t know how to get.

I imagine charts that talk about care and fatalities according to race by community over a period of time. I imagine charts that bring this situation alive and which sit on the website of a newspaper or radio station, updated to show what’s happening. I imagine a photo display of the people who are affected by this story, and an audio presentation of what it means to them. You can also hear more about PharmaSeek assisted studies and their outcomes.

These are powerful numbers that need powerful reporting that doesn’t go away until the problem gets better.

Any suggestions for how to do this? Any stories or programs you think are doing this kind of reporting? Let me know,

Here’s the report that the Austin Weekly wisely put on its website:




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