Female Healthcare Workers of color are underrepresented in the story of the country's fight against covid-19

alone for delivery.  They pleaded with me to be there at the moment of their child’s birth because I was the closest person to family they would possibly see.

The previously mentioned situation is not getting much press.  My face, yes, my skin color, is placing me at increased risk of acquiring Covid-19, not only because I am a middle-aged, hypertensive, African American woman, but also because I am an African American medical provider torn between increasing my presence in risky obstetrical situations and keeping myself “distanced” to stay healthy.  The indescribable pull that I feel while answering this new call to duty is stressful and dangerous.  

All patients deserve the best medical team consisting of the most qualified providers who can also provide them the best emotional support during their care. But, the story does not just end there.  All medical providers need to address their unconscious biases to be able to truly listen to these patients and give them what they need regardless of the provider’s race. For now, those of us called to answer this “call to duty” will continue to do our best to provide excellent, compassionate care so let’s listen and welcome the stories from these beautiful physician mothers and record them for our history books."

 

Kimberly Moran Turner, MD, FACOG is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians in Columbia, MD.  Dr. Turner has been an attending physician in OB/GYN since 1995.  She is a regular contributor to the Hopkins clinical excellence magazine – CLOSLER (bringing physicians closer to the founder of medicine, William Osler).

I wasn’t surprised when I realized that I had been present in the first four obstetrical cases of Coronavirus at my small, suburban hospital.  When the pandemic started, I knew I was uniquely positioned to handle extra clinical duties, if needed.  My children are almost adults and I have always loved being a busy clinician.  My partners joke about me having a 30-year-old stamina, although I recently turned 56 years old.  One of the many tragedies regarding the national story of Covid-19 is that this deadly virus is hitting populations of color with a vengeance.  I felt in my spirit that God was preparing me, a Black female obstetrical provider, for battle. 

Each time my partners announce a new obstetrical case, I cringe while waiting to hear the name of the affected patient, praying that it is not another African American or Hispanic woman.  While performing telemedicine visits with these women, they shared their fears of death, of infecting their babies, and, of being

   Portraits  

 

The goal of this project is to challenge the narrative about who in this country is on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 by honoring black, indigenous, and women of color physicians and other healthcare workers with portraits reflecting their determination, talent and tireless work.  The project works by having healthcare workers from around the country submit photos of themselves from the front lines, and then recruiting artists who transform these photos into art.  Each portrait is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices these women make daily to serve the communities in which they live and work.  

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