Black doctors join forces to address declining trust in medical system

An organization led by three Black doctors called The Shared Harvest Foundation has launched an emergency response to declining trust in the medical system.

There was a line down the street at a vaccine clinic in Culver City recently, and with the new omicron variant came a renewed push to get people vaccinated and boosted.


What You Need To Know
The Shared Harvest Foundation has launched an emergency response to declining trust in the medical system
As the needs shifted, they’ve held more than 80 pop-up vaccination clinics across Los Angeles
Blackbird is a community for professional women of color seeking to create positive change for each other and the world
If you would like to get tested, vaccinated or volunteer at one of the next Shared Harvest pop-up clinic, visit covidmd.org

Flying home for the holidays, 20-year-old Miaya South made a stop at the clinic after landing back in Los Angeles.

"My mom was looking for booster shots, since my school just got it mandated for every university affiliate and undergraduate," South said.

South is grateful for the measures John Hopkins University is taking to keep students safe and says many of her friends are pre-med, so she felt confident taking the vaccine early on. But she knows there’s still skepticism within the Black and Brown community, and also among people in her age group.

Just behind South in line, Stan and Genise Brown were hoping to lead by example.

"We do have family members who are hesitant, and we keep pounding them and pounding them trying to impress upon them the importance, and just being an example, getting it done ourselves," Stan said.

It’s why the doctor hosting this clinic was inspired to launch an initiative called myCovidMD while working on the front lines of the pandemic in an emergency room.

Dr. Nana Afoh-Manin says it was depressing to see the devastation within communities of color who didn’t have access to care.

"The most important thing is education," said Afoh-manin, chief medical and innovation officer for The Shared Harvest Foundation. "We have to get back in the community, back connected and tether people to a reliable resource to get the right information, people like them, who look like them and cared for their families.”

Afoh-Manin explained that they started as pop-up testing centers targeting the uninsured to connect them to volunteer health professionals on call 24/7 to answer any of their COVID questions. As the needs shifted, they’ve held more than 80 pop-up vaccination clinics across LA.

Afoh-Manin noted that as the only Black woman doctor in her entire emergency department, this is how to build trust.

"You have to be present, you have to be involved, you have to be engaged and you have to be open to listen," Afoh-Manin said. "Just because I’m Black, doesn’t mean I understand the plight of every Black person. But my presence, my sincerity, allows people to open up and ask the questions that need to be asked.”


For this clinic, Afoh-Manin partnered with Bridgid Coulter Cheadle, founder of Blackbird, a community for professional women of color seeking to create positive change for each other and the world. Cheadle says it’s exciting to see the long lines of people covering her space.

"We’re learning, it’s developing," Cheadle said. "There’s so much data now, proving the safety of vaccines."

Data that South never doubted and hopes others her age hop on board, too.

“I don’t really think it’s taking a risk, but just take the leap and get vaccinated if you can," South said.

If you would like to get tested, vaccinated or volunteer at one of the next Shared Harvest pop-up clinics, visit covidmd.org.

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