Roanoke City Alleghany Health District hosts health equity round table

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:34 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Local leaders in the Roanoke Alleghany Health District hosted a virtual discussion Tuesday to address health equity and vaccine distribution in the Roanoke Valley.

Dr. Cynthia Morrow led the conversation over Zoom, which was also live streamed to WDBJ7′s Facebook page. Dr. Morrow, along with local leaders like Mayor Sherman Lea, Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell and Dr. NL Bishop, Carilion Clinic’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, joined in the conversation.

“We have populations within our community that have historically been underserved,” Dr. Morrow said.

That disparity was evident at the first mass vaccination clinics hosted by Carilion Clinic and the Roanoke Alleghany Health District, with very few Black and Hispanic people registered for the event.

“It was not representative of the broader community and we saw that and we decided we would do something about it,” Dr. Nathaniel Bishop said.

That’s why Tuesday, the Roanoke Alleghany Health District highlighted its partnerships with Carilion and the City of Roanoke. They said working together is the only way to bring change.

WDBJ7 asked about the resources the city has committed to this inclusion initiative.

City Manager Bob Cowell said Roanoke has helped organize two vaccine clinics that targeted Black and Hispanic populations and used personnel and money to make them run smoothly.

Roanoke library staff acted as a phone bank to register people for the event.

The city also used grant money to buy wheelchairs and add a new outreach position that targets the Hispanic community and translates documents and announcements.

“Coming together as we have, I think is making a tremendous difference,” Mayor Sherman Lea said.

While there is progress being made, health leaders said they are still a long way away from closing the gap.

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