Dr. Chris Colbert Talks Covid-19 and Healthcare Disparities.

Dr. Christopher Colbert is an international speaker, academic, and ER specialist with over 18 years of experience. His show airs on ABC 7 Chicago WLS on Sundays at 6:45 am, where he talks about Emergency Medicine, Covid- 19, and healthcare disparities. In addition, Dr. Chris Colbert is the assistant program director of emergency medicine residency at UIC, a Lieutenant Major in the United States Army, and Vice-chair of continuing medical education and oral board review for the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP).

CD: What is your philosophy as an ER doctor?

Dr. Chris Colbert: All people are human beings which means that no one is above a poor judgment call. I don’t judge patients, nor do I discriminate when they come to the Emergency Room. It’s both humbling and rewarding to be a physician.  ER physicians should focus on the gift and power that we have to impact people positively. Not using these skills correctly could cause inherent bias. ER doctors are doctors-by-default. When patients come to us, it’s an emergency and not planned.  We are in a must-have situation, and patients are talking to a complete stranger, so it’s important to listen intently.

CD: What is your commentary about students coming back to school?

Dr. Chris Colbert: People ask, “when are we going to return to normal?” It depends on what normal is for the individual. What’s safe? We have to be able to comply with medical recommendations to see significant changes. To “get back to normal,” we have to wear masks and wash our hands. I’m glad that appreciation for both physicians and teachers too were put on the front stage last year. It’s about time.

Dr. Chris Colbert Chicago Defender

CD: What about “herd immunity”?

Dr. Chris Colbert: We need 65 to 70 percent to have a robust immunity. We aren’t there yet. How many people have to die before we get there? You can’t talk about “herd immunity” on the one hand, but on the other hand, talk about not wearing a mask. As an ambassador of health, I want everyone to get better.

CD: Why do black and brown people distrust the medical profession?

Dr. Chris Colbert: Black and brown patients have hesitancy with the vaccine. This does not come from a manufactured place. It’s an honest concern. And it’s not just about the Tuskegee experiment. Statistically, when you look at history, we were not part of studies. There’s a reason why people have died from diseases like Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, etc. The research was not dedicated to those pathologies because it primarily affected black and brown people.

Unfortunately, we have to discuss why black and brown people don’t trust the medical profession, and we shouldn’t even have to. We should respect ALL patients’ points of reference. You can get more compliance and understanding when you meet people where they are. Also, most parents have their own ideas and experiences and stand by them.  “Sometimes practicing good medicine is not giving a pill. It’s just listening and not talking.”

CD: How are medicine and politics intertwined?

Dr. Chris Colbert:  There has to be an accountability plan of action in conversation if you are an elected official, especially with health recommendations. (It’s not about self-promotion). Governor Pritzker has received a lot of criticism for imposing restrictions on restaurants, businesses, and schools.  Kudos to him for having the character for not dismissing the numbers.  “Challenging times don’t build your character; they reveal it.” Unfortunately, our neighboring state, Michigan, has seen an increase in positivity rate, and the ER is packed. How can you talk about medicine without politics?

CD: What do you want students and medical professionals to know now? How do you prepare them for the outside world?

Dr. Chris Colbert: Due to Covid, things had to evolve. Emergency medicine has forced us to look in a different direction to find the positives of new resources on communicating with patients, delivering, and sharing information. We want to make sure content is valid, valuable, consistent, and honest. We have the power to stay relevant and advocate for progressive healthcare for physicians. That translates to advocacy for patients.

Finish these sentences.

Covid 19 is a virus that…….

Dr. Chris Colbert:     has changed the way we look at modern medicine.

Looking forward, the Black and Brown Community should…..

Dr. Chris Colbert:     demand relatable resources. They should have accommodations for their lifestyle and everything that the community needs. It makes for a more positive experience.

I want my children to know that…….

Dr. Chris Colbert:   during the pandemic, I stayed the course to affect positive change. I engaged and promoted the topic of Covid with the sole intent of promoting conversations and confidence for all people with no secondary gain.


Okema Gunn can be found at @sevengunn on IG and 7gunnmedia.com.

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