Community Connections for Health Care

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by Joan Bachman

My January BLOG included my thoughts that genealogy plays a major role in our interactions with others; that, as we interact with others, we may discover that genealogy (family traits) affects our compatibility with each other in major ways. After further reading and discussion, I’m reminding myself that race and social class are the “filters” we use before we get close enough to discover compatibility. Certain races and social classes have more privileges (advantages) than others and that complicates beginning the interactions.  

Privilege: Oxford: a special advantage not enjoyed by everyone.    a benefit enjoyed by an individual or group beyond what's available to others.

Race: Britannica: inherited physical and behavioral differences. Genetic studies in the late 20th century refuted the existence of biogenetically distinct races, and scholars now argue that “races” are cultural interventions reflecting specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th century.

Social Class: Britannica: A group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status.  the concept of class as a collection of individuals                      sharing similar economic circumstances has been widely used in censuses and in studies of social mobility.      Definitions for common understanding

 With the entire world population currently affected in many ways by the covid-19 pandemic, the element of privilege based on race and social class is more visible to some of us than in recent past. I am a retired professional independent elderly white female in fairly good health with resources adequate to live comfortably, and with most family members living nearby and concerned for my well-being.  That describes someone who is privileged compared to someone who received no special education, recently lost a low-paying job that forced month-to-month subsistence, and who may also have no local family support. I am privileged by race, social class – and genealogy. I feel some desire to contribute to leveling the playing field, but am not sure how best to make that happen. 

This week, the small class studying diversity and racism met via ZOOM. It was good to be a part of this special group again after I missed 2 class sessions. A portion of our virtual class time together concentrated on describing personal challenges during this time of changed work routines and social distancing. We agreed that we are fortunate to feel little change to our living situations (housing, food, income – i.e., privilege). “Media” seemed to play an important role for all of us, whether that was news media, distance working and teaching, or social media. 

 The media challenges expressed included listening to and searching out too much information (news overload), which can cause anxiety. I have limited my access for new disease and economic information to short daily periods from national news outlets, primarily public broadcasting, looking for facts rather than theories or sensation. My anxiety decreased after taking this path.  A more difficult challenge voiced was the sudden change in environment and methods for teaching and working from in-person to virtual. However, we agreed a positive effect of this virtual world is finding time and need for renewed connection to distant personal acquaintances via social media, phone, or even the US postal service.

 Another topic we discussed was “oppression” and how we have each personally experienced being an oppressor or being oppressed. Most examples described were work related. I’ve seen close-up the larger issue of oppression related to both race and social class – within one individual and her family. The oppressor was/is the federal government which is, of course, indirectly instituted, implemented, and funded by “we the people”. The disparities are especially found in the healthcare and  social services systems. Both systems are so complicated that the inequities are not easily defined even when we are aware of them. The level of services available and/or offered are related to personal financial resources which are, in too many cases, dependent on race or social class - and genealogy.

If “we the people” can recognize these inequities, and be moved by them, this may be the best time in our history to advocate, by communicating with our elected local, state, and federal representatives, to make changes to remove legally imposed disparities. “Privilege” is not a bad thing until it is used, consciously or unconsciously, to deny the rights of others.  

 Stay safe and accept responsibility to keep others safe also.


About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.

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