Houston medical schools bringing quality healthcare to neighborhoods that need it most

HOUSTON – Ashley Howard found her dream job as a community health professional, trained by and working for the University of Houston. She spends her days helping people in the same minority community she grew up in live healthier lives.

“Because you’re not educated about health,” she said. “You know like growing up in a poor community, you’re not taught about health.”

A former certified nurse’s aid and a single mom raising two young children, Howard knows from experience that people living in under-served, low-income neighborhoods face huge barriers when it comes to quality healthcare.

“My job is basically to teach them,” she said. “That’s why I took up this cause so I can come back to the community and teach them what I know.”

Lack of quality healthcare

If the lack of good healthcare in Houston’s low-income communities wasn’t apparent before, it is now with the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, there were just under 17,000 positive cases in Houston and Harris County, and more than half of them have been either black or Hispanic patients. There are also nearly 6,000 cases of unknown race and ethnicity, of which most are believed to be minorities.

Not only that, but a whopping 22% of people in Harris County can’t afford to see a doctor, a number slightly higher than the 18% across Texas. Of those who can’t afford a doctor, more than half are black or Hispanic.

New approach to serving under-served communities

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