In a partnership between the city’s Black community, Long Beach State and city officials, the Black Health Equity Collaborative discussed ways to address health disparities faced by Black individuals in the city during its first town hall event Thursday evening.
Hosted by the College of Health and Human Services, the event featured several panelists and moderators who discussed COVID-19 vaccinations with regard to the city’s Black community as well as mental health providers funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Black Health Equity Fund. The newly established team is a joint effort from health experts to develop strategies in response to these issues.
Amber Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Health Science, shared that the Black population in Long Beach has the lowest average life expectancy at 75 years, as well as the highest risk of diabetes. She outlined a call for coordinated policy, research and programming action to address health concerns among Black youth and adults.
“The development of the Black Health Equity Collaborative seeks to answer the call,” Johnson said.
The Black Health Equity Collaborative looks to research and evaluate community wellness programs and support for Black Serving Organizations, as well as communicate and network this information to Black communities in Long Beach.
Of the city’s $40 million in CARES Act funding, $1 million was allocated for the Black Health Equity Fund, which worked to develop a strategy to address how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community.
Dr. Lauren Yu, of MemorialCare Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, highlighted the importance of receiving the coronavirus vaccine to protect oneself and the community. She also said that the efficiency of distribution depended on ensuring vaccines are available to Black communities.
“Safety is the most important part of vaccine approval,” Yu said.
Panelists discussed the importance of prioritizing mental health during this time and encouraged individuals seeking assistance to make use of their free therapy sessions, which are being offered to both insured and uninsured Black residents of Long Beach under 30 years old.
More information will be made available on the team’s Instagram page, they said.
“It is very important you reach out for help, and you talk to somebody, “ said Dr. Sandra Hardy, a psychologist in Long Beach.
The Black Health Equity team will hold its next visioning meeting on March 5, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.