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Health Disparities sub-committee has first meeting

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new commission in Lexington is exploring ways on how to reduce systemic racism. The Health Disparities sub-committee met Monday. This is the first of five committees formed to discuss what changes can be made and what can be done better in the city.

The Health Disparities sub-committee used their connections in healthcare to discuss the barriers the African American community faces in the health care system, like a lack of access.

"Based on the research, there's very few doctors, clinics in black communities. So having direct liaison, navigators in lieu of doctors would help make referrals in a non-threatening fashion," Timothy Johnson of United Way of the Bluegrass said.

The committee also discussed the fear of encountering racism and what the workforce looks like.

"What the healthcare system looks like in Fayette County, it doesn't look like those of us that are on this panel. So that comes up often, not only about mistrusting the system and feeling comfortable, but you want to see somebody who looks like you," Vivian Lasley-Bibbs of Kentucky Public Health Office of Health Equity said.

Lexington Psychologist Dr. Adu Boateng discussed how the African American population as a whole is underserved when it comes to mental health.

"Individuals actually accepting the fact that they may have mental health issues, understanding that it's treatable, but also understanding that going to talk to a psychiatrist or a psychologist doesn't automatically mean you're crazy or it's irreversible," Dr. Boateng said.

The sub-committee is made up of doctors, nurses, various health professionals, community activists, and a city councilwoman.

Their goal is to give recommendations to Mayor Linda Gorton at the beginning of August.