LSU awareness event explores SCD’s impact on Black, brown communities

Lead-off discussion will focus efforts to improve care, overcome stigma

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by Mary Chapman |

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Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs will kick off season six of its Racism: Dismantling the System series on Feb. 15 with a free Zoom presentation on healthcare and people of color.

The 3:30 p.m. CST event, presented in partnership with the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana, is titled “Sickle Cell Disease: Looking at the Medical Distrust & Health Disparities Facing Black & Brown Communities.”

The presentation will feature a panel discussion by experts on sickle cell disease (SCD) about healthcare disparities faced by African Americans and Hispanics, whom the blood disorder disproportionately affects.

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The discussion will touch on the chronic pain many with sickle cell disease experience, their efforts to overcome discrimination to receive better care, and the health-related stigmas they encounter as a result of their race, disease and socioeconomic status.

“I’m not only excited about this discussion because I’m an advocate for sickle cell disease but because the doubt and disparities sickle cell warriors battle highlight the long history of biases and medical discrimination that have and are still costing Black Americans their lives,” said event moderator Quenton Buckhalter, in a university press release. “Everyone is encouraged to attend this event to become more educated about sickle cell disease and to hear firsthand stories from carriers in our community. Together, we can make a difference through awareness.”

About 100,000 U.S. residents live with SCD, which occurs in about one of every 365 black births, and one in every 16,300 Hispanic American births.

The panelists will include:

  • Quenton Buckhalter, event moderator and graduate of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication
  • Corey Hebert, MD, director of medical research and development at Emmaus Life Sciences
  • Renee Gardner, MD, hematology/oncology specialist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans
  • Tanisha Burrell Smith, nurse practitioner, hematology/oncology specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Ernest DeJean, program manager, Tulane Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana
  • Sherell JoneS, SCD patient

Jones said she was excited to be participating in the event. “As a Sickle Cell Warrior, I believe it’s important to tell my story and educate society on the health disparities affecting African American communities,” Jones said.

Participants must register in advance on Eventbrite to get the meeting access code. The event will be broadcast live on the Reilly Center’s Facebook page and recorded and uploaded to the Manship School’s YouTube channel.