Doctors move from hospitals to COVID-19 testing sites to treat communities of color

One doctor in Miami started her own COVID-19 testing site while another in New York City partnered with a group of testing sites in order to better treat these underserved populations.
7:26 | 08/06/20

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Transcript for Doctors move from hospitals to COVID-19 testing sites to treat communities of color
Behind these face masks, doctors on a mission of mercy. They're in covid-stricken south Florida, unloading test kits. The moment we arrived, there were people who had been lined up since 4:00 in the morning needing a test. For months, Dr. Jaclyn and her colleagues were on the front lines working to bring testing to hard-hit poor and immigrant communities in New York City. Now they've gone from one battlefield in Latino neighborhoods in the bronx to another here in Florida. Just living through the process over again, it was exactly the same situation we saw in March. Medical experts say testing is a key tool in stopping the virus' spread, but lack of this testing is unequal. We will continue to be at risk of getting coronavirus. All of us need to solve this problem of inequitable access to testing. ABC news and 538 analyzed test sites, using census data and test site info from castlight and found that in and around many cities, testing locations were more scarce in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods than in their white, wealthier counter parts. It's exacerbation of preexisting inequalities. Companies offering testing, many of those are located in predominantly white neighborhoods because of inability to make enough profit in low-income communities. As a result of that, communities of color have less access to The study revealed particularly large disparities in testing access in and around San Antonio, Baltimore, los Angeles and south Florida. To help address this inequality, Dr. Dell Mont has been volunteering here for weeks. It's devastating that the communities that need it the most, the communities where we could have made a great impact have not had access to testing. Born in Venezuela, Dr. Dell Mont has been working without her family for weeks. She's devoted her career to helping immigrants. It's an unprecedented time. I feel that all the resources I've achieved during my career, my administrative skills, my clinical skills, empathy, coming from a family with limited resources, understanding that there are definitely differences in the communities. 16-year-old Natalie Choi's family also had limited resources. Her whole family has been sick for almost three weeks. My mom, my dad, my little brother, then my two little baby siblings, and my grand paw all live with me. And pretty much everyone experienced symptoms, including the babies. You live in what's called a multi-generational family. How realistic is it for you guys to have social distanced within the house? Since my dad was the first one to test positive, it was easy to stay in his bedroom and bathroom, but then we couldn't do anything at all except wear a mask pretty much all day long and we still do. Her father speaks mostly Spanish, and thankfully, so do these doctors. It was easy for them to communicate and know what was going on, and not me translating everything. Plus, with the extended family, testing wasn't just tough to find but tough to afford. People who have the money to pay for every single test, they have much easier access. Like paying for $100 or $150, that's fine, but when it's five, six, seven people, some families can't afford it. When you don't have insurance, the only other options is to rely on publicly-funded means, whether that's public health sites or philanthropic funds which have helped the many individuals who have organized to create free testing in communities of color. This is one of those organizations forced to fill the gaps. Dr. Ramon tillage is the co-founder. He immigrated from the Dominican Republic. We speak the same language, we know exactly what's the problem about housing, money. Then we have to work with them. In any way possible. We believe in the American dream. We were with Dr. Tillage in the spring, visiting in the bronx, home to the highest rates of covid-19 deaths in all of new York City. Put your mask on. This was one of the few lifelines to predominantly spanish-speaking patients. They expanded to partner with New York state to add 28 additional testing sites. From the beginning, we've been trying to get testing in our community. We did did ourself. We put on the line a lot of money, the doctors, to go ourself. And we want to continue for our own people. Now almost three months after we met Dr. Tallaj, they are donating to those most in need like in Texas. This family was showing symptoms. He was very happy that they weren't asking any information about status or any papers, any information, because he didn't want to go at first. He was like, no, I don't want to go. And I was like, no, let's go get My colleague, Marcus Moore was with Sonya and her daughter when they got tested in Houston. How far did you have to drive to get a test? We drove about 30 minutes, but I was glad they were able to get us in quickly, because I have tried other places and the wait was about three to four weeks. Hold on a minute, three to four weeks to get a test? Yes, because the testing sites are very busy right now. How many testing centers did you check? To try to get a test? There were around three or four in my areas including Walgreens and CVS. Some of them are doing it, but they don't have any testing available because it's full. They keep on saying to try back later, and I kept on trying later and later. Every two, three hours, and it would give me the same message. Just days after that somos test, a result, positive. It was very shocking and scary that all of us tested positive and it's so dangerous. People are dying. It's just crazy. Sonya is just one of the tens of thousands of new people testing positive every day, a sign that the doctors of somos and America have a long road ahead. We fight and we find a way. Up next, designing a

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