“Each one help each one” has become the heartbeat of MHI in collaboration with a growing coalition of volunteers, community-facing agencies, and community-based organizations. COVID-19 has exposed the glaring need to address the many disparities in health, healthcare, and socioeconomics, particularly for those of African descent as well as Latinx and other minority populations in America. The most vulnerable among us are those with medically complex conditions; the pandemic has disproportionately affected Blacks.
MHI mobilized early in March 2020 to respond to the pandemic’s impact on diverse populations at higher risk. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 7,000 people have received direct assistance from these efforts. There is a need to expand these efforts using a cooperative approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly among disproportionately impacted communities in Manatee County where nearly half the caseload is among people of color.
Lisa Merritt, MD Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) - History/Backgrounds
The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI, the-mhi.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1995 by Dr. Lisa Merritt, MD. Its core mission is to address health disparities in the medical system and redirect and target care to the affected communities. MHI seeks to level the healthcare playing field by promoting, educating, and ensuring equal healthcare access and treatment for individuals and communities who are traditionally uninsured and receive a poor quality of care. We support programs that educate, identify, and test for diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Stroke, Cardiovascular Disease, Infant Mortality, HIV/AIDS, and other health issues affecting under-represented communities across the United States which also help reduce the costs of healthcare.
Nationally, although African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, they represent a third of deaths related to COVID-19. Numerous well-known social determinants of health drive the multicultural disparities that exist in healthcare and socioeconomic outcomes for the ethnic and cultural minority communities in the United States, particularly within Hispanic/Latinx and African-American communities which comprise 14.9 percent and 8.7 percent of the Manatee County population, respectively.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the COVID-19 crisis has subjected minorities to even more unsafe conditions as only 16.2% of Hispanic workers and 19.7% of Black workers are able to work from home (i.e., telework) [A]. The CDC concedes that multigenerational or multi-family housing conditions may pose a challenge to protecting older household members or isolating if space is limited [B]. These communities are also underserved because of language barriers in disseminating information.
Dr. Lisa Merritt Accepts the 2012 Unity Award in the Medical Category