The coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly 3 million deaths worldwide—many of them in medically underserved communities. This flood of preventable suffering deeply impacted the front-line clinicians, public health workers, and aid workers who witnessed it. Now they’re stepping forward to tell their stories.
This April, the 17th annual Yale Healthcare Conference invited an international panel of clinicians, epidemiologists, and aid workers to share experiences and lessons learned from the pandemic. Representing the U.S. clinician perspective was Dr. Maureen Bell, MD, a Vituity emergency physician, and an emergency department medical director at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She joined panelists from India, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom in a call for health equity—particularly in the area of COVID-19 vaccination.
Here are some of the critical insights Dr. Bell shared from her experiences treating COVID-19 patients in a largely Black community, plus her hopes for the future.
Q: Was there a particular moment at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when you realized things were about to change?
Maureen Bell, MD, FACEP: At the start of the pandemic, we were screening patients based on travel to specific areas or close contact with someone who’d traveled. I realized things were about to change when we started seeing patients with typical chest X-ray findings of COVID-19 who had no travel history.