All Black Urgent Care: Yes, it Matters!

When I walk into a patient’s room and see the look of pride on a Black family’s face after they realize I’m their child’s doctor, I’m reminded how much my skin and ethnicity matters. I think the same happens for other minority physicians with their patients of the same ethnicity. Some ask why this matters and I frequently hear, “Isn’t this racist?” A recent post on social media celebrating  this black-owned and operated urgent care center on the Southside of Chicago triggered the same response from mostly White physicians who are conservative. I find it frustrating to have to explain why color and ethnicity mean something to American descendants of slaves (ADOS), but as a conservative I also get the defensive reflex having so many leftists call us racist just for being conservative. But is it racist for Blacks to want Black doctors and nurses and is it the same as Whites wanting only White doctors or nurses? And, is celebrating a Black owned and run business really necessary

Considering the history of the treatment of Black Americans in medical research like the men in Tuskegee and  Henrietta Lacks as well as existing evidence of disparities in medical treatment, it’s no wonder many Blacks feel more comfortable in the care of another Black person. Also, there is no comparable example in history of White Americans being mistreated by Black nurses and physicians and I’d also be hard pressed to learn that a White physician has ever been told by a patient that they didn’t want them as their doctor because they aren’t Black. On the other hand, I have heard Blacks being told a patient/family member prefers a White physician or nurse. So no, being more comfortable with medical care by someone of the same ethnicity is not racist and it isn’t racist for Black Americans to prefer Black American physicians and nurses.

Next, let’s consider the celebration of this particular urgent care center. It is among the first of its kind in a city riddled with poverty, crime, and poor health. The partners chose to open in this location to give this community access to affordable medical care. Given that Blacks are told to “leave the plantation” and pull up our own people and take responsibility for our own families and communities. Well, isn’t this black-owned and operated urgent care center an example of doing exactly that? Not only is this medical center a necessity, it is also proof that Blacks can and do invest in our own communities. In a country so divided where Blacks/ADOS feel unheard and thrown aside by both political parties, we need to be encouraged and convinced that we don’t need saving by Democrats or Republicans. We are more than capable of educating ourselves, caring for ourselves, and building our communities. Why shouldn’t we show others the achievements we have made and are making in order to inspire and encourage one another to become educated, build wealth, and engage in and build our own communities? There is nothing racist about this.

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Nicole Johnson MD

Nicole M. Johnson MD is a practicing physician in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and is certified in General Pediatrics and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Johnson is the President and Co-founder of PHYSICIANS FOR PATIENTS®, a grassroots organization that champions physician-led care and fights against the unsupervised practice of medicine by non-physicians. She is passionate about lowering the cost of medical care for all Americans, solving the physician shortage, and ending mandatory Maintenance of Certification®. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Also visit www.physiciansforpatients.org. 

  16 comments for “All Black Urgent Care: Yes, it Matters!

  1. Roberto Grant, Jr.
    June 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Fait Acompli.

    No non-white staff or provider would ever consider going to THAT neighborhood in Chicago.

    Bars on the windows and bullet-resistant glass allowed, unlike for shop keepers there?

  2. Nora
    June 12, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    I believe 100% in the free association of people with whoever they want to associate with. I don’t think it is racist to be more comfortable with people who are similar to yourself. It is simply human nature. I am married to a person of another race, and it can be challenging at times to have to deal with different cultures in the same household. But we are the same religion, so we are more going for “having the same values” and not “having the same skin color.” Everyone needs to have something in common with people around them.

    I think it is inspiring to have an all Black clinic. This is especially great for Black kids in the neighborhood to have good role models. Although, you do need to have open hiring practices I think. I tried to advertise for a “woman physician” to share a job with me, and I got in huge trouble for that. They said I could not ask for another woman to work with due to anti-discrimination laws that I just broke. But if you can get away with it, I personally think it should be your right to hire whoever you want.

  3. Elwood L Schmidt, MD
    June 12, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I found myself agreeing with almost all the comments, which conflict within themselves. Yes there is reason to be proud of the accomplishments of all the folks in the mono-colored Urgent Care, yes Obama fanned the flames of perceived racism, yes NN your comment comes across as a double standard despite your disclaimer, and yes to the point that if the patient can’t take the doctor’s word for his intentions, then another physician needs to be found. Revictimization can occur only if the victim allows it to occur. There is too much openness in our society to allow victimization to occur without cooperation.

  4. Jami Smith
    June 12, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Don’t want to see me?

    Good, I don’t want to you either.

    You don’t get to pull the race card; no one besides your own internal mental illness demons care in 2019.

    Please self-segregate yourself back onto your plantation-of-your-own-mind and let me do my job for people who want my help. Angry bitter racists – of any melanin content – have NO place in my waiting room.

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    • Nicole M. Johnson MD
      June 13, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      This “plantation” comment is more divisive than anything a patient feels about the skin color of their physician. As a Black conservative and woman physician I definitely understand discrimination and division.

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    • Michael Golding
      June 16, 2019 at 9:44 pm

      Come on. These are black entrepreneurs. There is no plantation mentality associated with individuals using *their own resources* to help others who have experienced disadvantage.

      They represent the very best of what freedom can bring. Reading this article makes me proud to be an American.

  5. Neil Buckley
    June 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    This is fantastic. A cause for celebration for any American. From a colorblind standpoint this is a daring investment in a struggling community. From a heritage perspective this addresses the missing piece toward ultimate integration that was described in a great Malcolm Gladwell podcast that pointed out that the failure of school integration was not enough black teachers.

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  6. Cherri Coleman
    June 11, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    As a CNA, who happens to be white, I have had black patients say that they would prefer a black CNA. I didn’t take offense, I firmly believe a patient needs to be able to feel comfortable with his/her caregiver.

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  7. Rick
    June 10, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Until there was an Obama, people weren’t slinging around the term “racist”.
    Unless there was true and blatant racism, I never heard the word. Then, Obama set this country on fire and the term “racist” is now being used commonly. Every conservative is a racist. The President is a racist. Everybody’s a racist.

    Hey, If I were black I would love this clinic. Let it be.

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    • Nicole M Johnson MD
      June 13, 2019 at 10:36 pm

      Actually, I think President Obama’s own statements contributed a great degree to division in this country and I’ve heard the word “racist” more under Trump than at any other time in my life. However, I agree with every thing else you said. Yes, lit be!

  8. Thomas David Guastavino
    June 10, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    #1) As an Italian American I, and many others, have been victims of prejudice. Skin color alone does not prejudice make
    #2) At least three during my residency I was told by black patients that they would not see me because I was white. One said, and I quote: “I ain’t being seen by no white devil”
    Lastly, the problem is not that blacks only wanting to see black doctors is justifiable because it would make the patients feel more comfortable, the problem is that if a white patient said they only wanted to see a white doctor that would be considered racist.
    …and that is a blatant double standard.

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    • NN
      June 11, 2019 at 11:20 am

      It is not a double standard. But for the history of this country, there would be no reason for Blacks not to trust White physicians. The reverse is not true. As Dr. Johnson said, there is not a repetitive history of Black physicians refusing to care for White patients. We Americans are products and recipients of our history. Read up on the Tuskeegee experiments, Henrietta Lacks, whose cells are still being used today(Remember HeLa cells in med school?), the Mississippi appendectomies, etc. Most of us who are Black have family members who do not trust White doctors because of this history. You can’t change or reason it away, it is woven into the fabric of our country. That kind of pain goes deep… to one’s very soul. There is no place in which one feels more vulnerable than in medicine as a patient. Blacks do not want to be revictimized. If you think that some of these patients should take your word that you mean them no harm, think again. To be frank, your word is simply not enough.

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      • Pat
        June 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm

        And if my word is not enough, then I would not want them as patients, whatever their hue.

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  9. Bill Ameen MD
    June 10, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Hooray for this clinic! My urgent care/family practice in the South had a large percentage of African-American patients. One weekend day when I was working it just happened that my whole staff that day was black. One older black lady took me aside and told me she wanted to congratulate me (as a white man) for having a black staff. I was kind of taken aback because I hadn’t particularly ever paid attention to the racial make-up of my staff (my long-term business manager, who is black, did all the hiring, with my final approval). So I could only say, “Well, we always hire the best people!”

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  10. JRDO
    June 10, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Imo the term “racist” is often used when it would be more appropriate to use the the term “racial”.
    There appears to be a racial aspect to Premier Health Urgent Care which I think is a good thing. Kudos to them for what they are doing.

    The novel Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult address both racial and racist issues in modern healthcare.
    I recommend it highly.

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    • Nicole M. Johnson MD
      June 13, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      Great point about the verbiage.

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