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Data show large disparities in access to healthcare across Central Virginia

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Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 17:49:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- New data released by the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg revealed large disparities in access to healthcare across Central Virginia.

The report, which was released on Thursday, aimed to shed light on the inequities that exist disproportionately from locality to locality.

“People without health insurance often receive less medical care and have worse health outcomes than people with insurance,” according to a press release. “United Way’s Equity Data Series identifies disparities through the lens of the organization’s Steps to Success framework, a set of nine areas that guides the nonprofit’s work in the community.”

Health experts have said for months that the black and brown communities have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and the pandemic.

The pandemic also exposed and highlighted the disparities that exists prior to lockdowns.

Access to care is a critical component of receiving care, according to the Audrey Trussell, the non-profit’s vice president of community impact.

“We all believe that everyone deserves the right to a better life,” Trussell said. “For our community to thrive, everyone must have an equal opportunity to live a healthy life.”

The data showed the disparities increase dramatically as you travel further away from Metro Richmond.

In Richmond, there is:

  • One mental health provider for every 278 people
  • One dentist for every 750 people
  • One primary care provider for every 966 people

In Henrico, there is:

  • One mental health provider for every 358 people
  • One dentist for every 1,271 people
  • One primary care provider for every 950 people

In Charles City, there is:

  • One mental health provider for every 6,941 people
  • One dentist for every 6,941 people
  • One primary care provider for every 3,502 people

In Dinwiddie County, there is:

  • One mental health provider for every 5,706 people
  • One dentist for every 14,265 people
  • One primary care provider for every 7,052 people

“Having close, convenient access to health care is important, and access to preventive care is essential to ensuring people do not struggle with ongoing health complications throughout life,” said James Taylor, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg.

The United Way currently funds 20 programs at 16 local nonprofits totaling more than $3 million from 2020 through 2022.

Julie Bilodeau dedicates her life helping those who need help the most. As CEO of Crossover Healthcare Ministry, she and hundreds of volunteers provide a full spectrum of healthcare services to low-income individuals, those without insurance or are on Medicaid.

“We don’t want people to forgo important preventative care,” Bilodeau explained. “We see a really high incident of chronic disease with our patients."

Navigating America’s healthcare system is difficult, she said.

“We all work together to work with folks who have limited access to care, to provide these services that they feel safe so they can be healthy, and can parent their children effectively, they can keep jobs and be productive families. Thats our goal,” Bilodeau said.

The United Way works with Crossover Healthcare Ministries to help fill in the gaps. Founded in 1983, Bilodeau’s non-profit provides free services to 6,000 people a year.

Research has shown people without health insurance and experience unexpected health problems can lead to a major financial burden.

Health-related expenses are the largest contributor to bankruptcies.

When workers lost their jobs during the pandemic, Black and Latino populations experienced the significant increase of impact.

Crossover Healthcare Ministries work with volunteers who also work professionally in Central Virginia. The major hospital systems all help
provide services for their clients for free thanks to the efforts of their volunteers.

They are currently requesting additional volunteers to help staff their clinics in Manchester and Henrico’s West End.