Dr. Gail E. Wyatt, the Dena Bat Yaacov Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, joined Dr. Paul Simon, Chief Science Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as guest panelists for the April CDU Community Forum.
The CDU Community Forum is a free monthly virtual forum where medical experts and community leaders discuss key issues impacting under-resourced communities. The forum is moderated by Sylvia Drew Ivie, CDU Senior Special Assistant to the President for External Affairs and daughter of Charles R. Drew. Each event features two guest panelists along with Dr. David M. Carlisle, President of CDU, as a recurring panelist. As has been the case with prior CDU Community Forums, the hour long discussion centered on COVID-19 and communities.
“I think in our communities we’ve not always had health professionals that are well trained to understand our history of health and the lack of it in certain communities and also the attitudes that apparently are quite difficult to change,” said Wyatt. “We need to develop a health literacy and I think a health literacy means we understand what diseases are about, we know what has to change, and we know what we need to do to stay healthy.”
Dr. Paul Simon spoke about some of the inequities in health existing throughout Los Angeles County. “The inequities have been really staggering,” said Simon. “For example, we see that people living in communities with the highest level of poverty have four times the mortality rate as those living in communities with the least levels of poverty.”
Dr. Carlisle addressed the growing issue of homelessness in our communities, how it seems to have accelerated during the pandemic, and what could be done about the spread of COVID among homeless persons. “I think we need to start by taking a look at what’s working around the world and how we can use those policies here,” said Dr. Carlisle. “COVID-19 has exacted a greatly disproportionate toll among homeless individuals and this is because of all the risk factors that they bear, including lack of access to vaccinations, lack of access to testing, and lack of access to all other preventable measures, even face masks.”
The forums are held virtually via Zoom and a rebroadcast of the April event is available for viewing on YouTube. The CDU Community Forum will take a break in May, so check the forum’s webpage for information on the next event.