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The COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of fallout in areas from education to health care

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The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute held a round table discussion to spark ideas about support and equity for our community.

Thursday morning’s round table discussion held by the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute featured a powerhouse panel of local female leaders, representing health care, engineering, education and business, among other areas.

Discussions targeted real-life issues many are still grappling with years into the pandemic, such as learning loss for our youth and women leaving the work force, unable to find affordable child care or reasonable work schedules.

“What can we do to get more women back into the profession, can we think about different ways to do the shift schedules…is there a way to structure that so the families can work around those areas.” said Christina Freese Decker, President and CEO of Spectrum Health Systems.

Weaving throughout every topic was the understanding that systems, like healthcare, which have historically shut out people of color are continuing to crumble.

“Who are the populations that are being impacted by COVID and the disparities, yes lots of applications, but not applications from those individuals who might help us close those gaps.” said Dr. Wanda Lipscomb with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

The virtual discussion was part of the institute’s 20th anniversary, which continues respond to disparities in health outcomes for the African American community.