The controversial COVID-19 death of an Indiana Black doctor has prompted a state lawmaker to put preventive measures in place so more Black women receive better care.
Dr. Susan Moore, 52, died of complications from COVID-19 in December. She recorded an emotional video where she explained she was not being adequately treated at IU North hospital because of her race. In the video, documented from her hospital bed, Moore said she was treated “like a drug addict” by a White doctor after requesting pain medication and the antiviral drug remdesivir. Moore said she waited hours for pain medication, while doctors downplayed her pain.
“I don’t trust this hospital,” Moore said, with an oxygen tube hooked up to her nose. “That is not how you treat patients. Moore was moved to another hospital. She died weeks later.
This week, state Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) drafted a bill that would require cultural awareness training for healthcare professionals in the state. “I don’t want another Black woman to have to go through this,” Shackleford told WJCT News . “We need to do whatever we can to make sure our patients and our Black women are not feeling even more stressed when they go to the hospital.”
Moore’s Facebook video went viral on social media, prompting comments from other doctors, healthcare experts, and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. Rep. Shackleford, who chairs the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, said her bill would require Hoosier health care professionals to complete two hours of cultural awareness and competence training on a yearly basis.
The bill also calls for the state health department to establish a training program that demonstrates how ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity can impact a patient’s healthcare. Additionally, it requires the state to gather statistics from healthcare facilities on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, in an effort to provide health experts with necessary information regarding disparity trends and gaps in healthcare.
Meanwhile, IU Health is investigating Moore’s case. In a statement, IU Health CEO Dennis Murphy said, “We will have a diverse panel of healthcare and diversity experts conduct a thorough medical review of Dr. Moore’s concerns to address any potential treatment bias.”
This week, the Black Legislative Caucus released a statement regarding IU Health’s response, calling Moore’s case “absolutely inexcusable. We cringe at the thought of what happens to other Black women who lack the same access.”