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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Latinx & African American Children with Cancer in ICU’s Show Higher Death Rates

Children's Hospital Unit

After studying over 10,000 children with cancer across racial and ethnic spectrums, Doctor Surender Rajasekaran, the medical director of research at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, came to this conclusion…

“Hispanic and African American patients tended to do worst in surviving ICU disease when they had cancer.”

According to Doctor Rajasekaran’s findings, African American and Latinx children tended to be admitted into pediatric intensive care units much later than white children with similar diagnoses such as infections and pneumonia. He thinks this is because of a lack of access to health care not related to whether the children had private medical insurance or Medicaid.

“We have patients who call us at night if their kid has a cough or a cold and then you have other parents who bring their kids to the hospital sick and they are much sicker. If I had I go with my instincts it would be a question of access…that these patients don’t have the same types of access, the minority patients than the Caucasian patients typically have.”

Doctor Rajasekaran says currently the medical community is hearing of similar findings when adult patients with COVID-19 are admitted into the ICU, and while he is not seeing many children with coronavirus admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he expects to see disparities in race and ethnicity show up within those infected and admitted.

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