Letter in Support of Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen for US Health and Human Services.

Update #1 December 2, 2020
Update #2 December 3, 2020, 4:26 PM
Update #3 December 4, 2020, 8 PM
Update #4 December 6, 2020, 1:20 PM
Update#5 December 8, 2020, 9:20 AM

We remember the days.

The days when information about the transmission and spread of COVID-19 was only in English. The days when there was no race and ethnicity data on who was testing positive and hospitalized. The days when community members faced real obstacles in obtaining a COVID-19 test. The days when people who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not qualify for government benefits faced the difficult decision of choosing between isolation and poverty, or working and putting food on the table.

Many of us were on the front lines and remember those days.

Yet, it could have been worse. Substantially worse if it weren’t for the leadership of Dr. Mandy Cohen.

It has been a dirty, little secret that the needs of la comunidad Latina had been an afterthought in North Carolina. This moment in time has changed everything. During this pandemic, Dr. Cohen added the value of belonging — or to “intentionally promote an inclusive, equitable workplace that reflects the communities we serve, where everyone feels a sense of belonging, and our diverse backgrounds and experiences are valued and recognized as strengths” — to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ mission.

Dr. Cohen’s press conferences are, now, broadcast in English and Spanish. Public health information is translated in multiple languages. Racial equity data is regularly published. The State has surged free COVID-19 testing sites. Individuals who do not qualify for government benefits can, now, effectively isolate without falling into poverty. Attention to mental health services and access are, also, a priority. In partnership with community organizations, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has hired hundreds of community health workers and contact tracers representative of the communities served. The State health apparatus is authentically engaging historically marginalized populations and key leaders whose decisions impact the health of people living in North Carolina to improve health for all.

This pandemic has not slowed down the Department’s response in other areas. One example is the release of action plans to reduce the burden of cancer among hard hit communities. Another one is the statewide Early Childhood Action Plan to improve outcomes related to young children’s health.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in December 2020 is a fundamentally different institution. Under Dr. Cohen’s leadership, the Department has been swift, honorable, exemplary and made great strides in overcoming the disproportionality of COVID-19. (Let the record be clear, we were some of the Department’s biggest critics during the spring months.) Much work remains but the speed and breadth of change has positively shocked many of us.

We believe it is time for Dr. Cohen to show the rest of this country what is possible. If we are serious about overcoming COVID-19 and the systemic inequities in health systems, Dr. Mandy Cohen should be the next United States Secretary of Health and Human Services or lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. We urge President-elect Biden to nominate her.

Sincerely,

Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, Durham, NC

Dr. Gabriela M. Maradiaga Panayotti, Durham, NC

Pablo Friedmann, Durham, NC

Alejandro Peña, Durham, NC

Dr. Leonor Corsino, Cary NC

Dr. Irene C. Felsman DNP, Durham, NC

Dr. Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, PhD, Durham, NC

Elizabeth Sainz, Durham, NC

Rev. Edgar Vergara Millan, Durham, NC

Ms. Anne Fields, Durham, NC

Dr. Diana McNeill, Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Luke Smith, Durham, NC

Miriam Camacho Stokes, Morrisville, North Carolina

Dr. Jillian Hurst, Durham, NC

Mrs. Julie McKeel, Durham, NC

Reina Rodriguez, MD, Winston Salem,NC

Señor Roberto Rosales, Raleigh, NC

Ciranna Bird, Raleigh, NC

Amanda Boomershine, Wilmington, NC

Dr. Allison Stafford, Durham, NC

Ms. Monika Gonzalez, PA-C Durham, NC

Dr. Margaret Bowers, Durham, NC

Mr. Andrew Herrera, Raleigh, NC

Ms. Norma Marti, Raleigh, NC

Lloyd Michener, MD, Durham, NC

Gail Cox, Charlotte, North Carolina

Ms. Libby Arnold, Wilmington, NC

Dr. Zachary Willis, Chapel Hill, NC

Claudia Pamanes, Durham, North Carolina

Juana Hernandez, Urquiza, Raleigh NC

Ms. Njideka Ofoleta, Durham, NC

Dr. Nandini Kumar. Oxford, North Carolina

Mr. Robert Stokes, Morrisville, NC

Dr. Clayton Cooper, Durham, NC

Dr. Lisa L. Satterwhite, Durham, NC

Gabriel Bottazzi, Winston Salem, NC

Dr. Gabryel Garcia-Sampson, MD, MPH, Durham, NC

Elana Horwitz, Chapel Hill, NC

Alejandra Martinez, Raleigh, NC

Dr. Janaka Lagoo, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Dra. Zelmira Xavier De Martínez, Raleigh, NC

Andrada D. Neacsiu, PhD

Dr. Gabriela Plasencia, Durham, NC

Sarah Rawleigh, Hillsborough, NC

Sr. Eduardo Rodriguez, Durham, NC

Dr. Jennifer DeCoste-Lopez, Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Andrew Yuan, Durham, NC

Dr. Andrew G Flynn, Durham, NC

Dr. Teah Bayless, Durham, NC

Dr. Adaorah Okafor, Winston Salem, NC

Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Jose Cardoza, Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Matthew Geisz, Apex, NC

Dr. Anthony Viera, Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Gregory Sawin, Durham, NC

Yerson Padilla, Durham, NC

Dr. Brian Halstater, Chapel Hill, NC

Mary Quezada, Raleigh, NC

Dr. Kathryn Pollak, Durham, NC

Dr. Pablo Plasencia, Durham, NC

Kristina Silberstein, PA-C, MHS Durham, NC

Dr. Gabriela Nagy, Durham, NC

Perla Nunes, Concord, NC

Dr. William Bynum, Durham, NC

Naiomi Gonzalez, Charlotte, NC

Dr. Rushina Cholera, Durham, North Carolina

Alejandra Martinez, Raleigh, NC

Dr Tara Chandrasekhar, Durham NC

Dr Aimee Zaas Durham NC

Dr Maria Eapen, Raleigh, NC

Dr Vickie Fowler, Raleigh, NC

Dr Aimee Zaas, Durham NC

North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. On behalf of the 4283 members of the Academy across North Carolina working to improve health and health equity. https://www.ncafp.com/

Dr. Yolanda Guzman, Durham, NC

Dr.Roosevelt V. Campbell, Durham, NC

Dr. Carlos M Rish, Charlotte, NC

Natacha Rubio, Raleigh, NC

To sign the letter please go to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScZVQ54hbZLf6UigztEEJZJTajvgSXYTAsiir-9shLytQUBfA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Latinx Team and Interdisciplinary Network for Covid-19

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