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Racism in Health Care? CDC Expert Gets Real with New Mexicans Tonight

October 14, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE - Racism in the health care system is making people sick -- so much so that staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been looking into the problem. An expert on the topic from the CDC will be the featured guest at a free event in Albuquerque tonight.

Tonya Covington is executive director of Peacemakers Consulting, one of the event organizers. She says it's been shown that poor people and people of color often have much bleaker health outcomes than other New Mexicans.

"You can pretty much look at the zip code where someone lives and determine from that what their life expectancy will be."

She believes education is a key part of addressing problem -- making sure communities of color and the poor have access to health information they need in a language and form that's easy to understand.

Covington notes, like in other parts of the country, not all patients in New Mexico are treated equally.

"Doctors tend to very often look at poor people and people of color and automatically assume that they're not going to follow instructions, or take their medication, and lots of times they don't get the best advice that they could."

She says poor health outcomes for minorities and lower-income households affects everyone else, too, because it lowers overall productivity and tax revenues.

The event is an evening with CDC's Dr. Camara Jones from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. To ensure enough seating, those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM