Doctors find COVID-19 pandemic shows gap in health care access for poor

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – There’s new concern about what the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing when it comes to health care access.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that people with pre-existing conditions are hit harder than others. Health experts said it’s not just along racial lines, but also money.

“We have a higher level of numbers of patients who don’t have insurance or whose employers don’t pay for their insurance or who have challenges related to being able to get the appropriate care for the problem that they have,” said Dr. Antoine Keller, Cardiac Surgeon at Baton Rouge General.

Dr. Keller said these patients aren’t able to have new technology to heal faster while taking care of any heart problems.

Stats from the Louisiana Department of Health show hypertension, diabetes and cardiac disaease are the underlying conditions with the highest percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

There’s also concern about long term effects on the heart for someone who contracted the virus.
Doctors have teamed up with Heart-Sense, a non-profit to teach people the warning signs of heart issues.

Dr. Keller said, “By educating the people in the community and educating primary care doctors, hopefully we can get more of these people who have access issues into a pathway in which they can be taken care of.”

Dr. keller is also leading a new initiative called the Cardiac Disparities Coalition of Southern Louisiana. The group is having its first virtual summit October 9th. Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy is expected to take part in the summit.

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