Expert says chronic conditions, socioeconomic factors contribute to COVID-19 racial disparities

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 8:10 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) -Dr. John Bruchhaus at St. Francis Medical Center said pre-existing medical conditions and other socioeconomic factors are contributing to the racial disparities of COVID-19 patients.

He said factors like health insurance, transportation, and housing have hindered patients from getting preventative care and following up with their physicians about chronic conditions.

Bruchhaus, the ICU director, said St. Francis has several programs in place that have been contacting patients who need help with financial aid. Some of these programs have a specific focus on women and children.

“Children with asthma that are of low socio-economic housing situations have higher risks of asthma and higher exacerbations. And that places those children as well as adults at risk of contracting viral respiratory illnesses,” said Bruchhaus.

There are also social workers assigned to assist patients with Medicare and Medicaid enrollment.

Its patient advocate program is designed to make sure the voices of all patients are heard and treated fairly. Through this program, patients can report unfair treatment they may have received under their care.

These reports can be made to a patient’s physician, the nursing staff, or a patient representative. Bruchhaus said it’s important for patients to feel comfortable speaking about their experiences.

“We take those complaints very seriously and act on them very rapidly. I think that if we can start an open dialogue to where patients feel open to discuss these issues, and raise these issues, that they can be solved,” said Bruchhaus.

Patients at the hospital can file a complaint or give feedback about their experience by sending an email to They can also contact the nurse or nurse manager on their floor, or call (318) 966-4352 to speak to a patient representative.

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