TO THE EDITOR:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health literacy is key to ensuring that patients maintain a healthy lifestyle and make informed decisions concerning their health. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that only 12 percent of Americans have proficient health literacy skills.
Unfortunately, poor health literacy has also led to increased disparities within the African American community. I am finding that many patients are having difficulty fully understanding how our health care system works. We have to continually share evidence-based literature with ourselves, family members, and the communities we serve.
Now more than ever, especially as we continue to battle COVID-19 and its Delta Variant, consumers must be aware of health insurance pitfalls.
However, we in the medical community can’t do this alone. To help bring an end to these health disparities and lack of health literacy seen on a daily basis, we also need the help of federal policy makers.
As professional nurses, we are trained to respect our patients’ right to make decisions, act as a patient advocate, and allow our patients to make the best possible choices while knowing the risk, benefits and possible complications.
We have to remember to act compassionately with our patients’ choice, respecting everyone regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation to ensure that same level of care is provided.
Dr. Wanda Chukwu, DNP, MA/BA, CNEcl, RN