Did Hospital Desegregation Make Black Patients' Health Worse?

operating doctors looking down
Leslie Taylor-Grover
April 12, 2022

Hospitals are often praised as models for the success of desegregation. So why do Black patients get injured and even get infected with new diseases at a much higher rate than white people who go to the exact same hospitals? Why do Black mothers die during childbirth three times as often?

There’s a long history there.

#1: Enslavement

When enslavement ended, Black people were in poor health. Many were disabled from white terrorism, and many suffered from mental ailments as well. Even when the government created programs for our health, white people complained – until access was revoked!

#2: Medicare

Though hospitals are praised for their speed in desegregating facilities, the truth is they only integrated under the threat of losing federal dollars from Medicare  – NOT in response to Civil Rights legislation. Further, white hospitals receiving government funds put Black hospitals out of business once Medicare legislation was signed in 1965.

#3: Discrimination

Even after integration, white hospitals still found ways to discriminate. In Mississippi for example, Black patients were put on separate floors, denied service, and private rooms were built for white patients.

Historically, hospitals haven’t cared about Black patients, they’ve just chased green dollars. We still can’t depend on the government or hospitals to provide quality healthcare – we have to advocate for ourselves and continue our fight for true liberation!

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