Health: Dealing with COVID19
By Dianne Anderson
As the nation was out hoarding rationed toilet paper, and just about anything else they could fit in the cart, health professional Doretha Williams-Flournoy was flying back home to California where she basically had the plane to herself.
At the airport, she took note of nonstop news on COVID 19. One station talked about how things don’t seem real until someone knows someone that has it.
When NBA players and Tom Hanks tested positive, she said it all hit closer to home.
Now more than ever, she said the community must take positive action to improve their immunity and deal with the emotional fallout they feel from lack of control.
Some of the anxiety may be that doctors have said don’t come out to the health facilities unless absolutely necessary.
That can be stressful.
“I’m encouraging people to do what you know will ease your stress. Stress breaks down the immune system, eat those things that will build your body’s capacity to fight anything that will come into your system,” said Williams-Flournoy, CEO of the California Black Health Network, a statewide health policy and advocacy organization.
One best practice may be to handle it like the ancestors handled it.
Everyone’s Great Grammas who lived through the devastating 1918 pandemic made old fashioned chicken soup, shown to have a bronchial healing effect. They were also firm believers in a cap or two of bleach added to the dishwater to kill germs.
People can make some common-sense moves that research shows help support immunity. Multiple university studies say prayer is an immune booster. Vitamin C and Elderberry are anti-viral, as well as raw garlic.
Most at risk are the elderly, smokers and the obese, but in the coming weeks, some people may find themselves stuck in the house. They can take that isolated time to do in-home body strengthening exercises. They can drink more water, eat better, which most health experts say offer additional protection to withstand the virus before it hits.
Historically, people have turned to some home remedies as either protective factors or to serve as an intervention.
“There is the chicken soup phenomenon, and Vitamin C to boost our immune system comes from things like citrus. Prayer is one of the strategies we can do. It’s also a strategy to ease our mental health and our way of taking on new challenges that may seem insurmountable,” she said.
To stay calm, she believes the community would do well to think back on their life history.
“We have had other outbreaks and have survived. We’ve gone through measles, gone through multiple flu outbreaks, HIV/AIDS. We’ve always come through,” she said.
In leading CBHN over the past two years, probably the most encouraging part is watching community participation and opening awareness around healthy outcomes. She has conducted town halls across the state to get people talking about the things they want to learn and ways to get healthy.
Together with experts, they presented models of what works. Individuals from the community brainstormed how to take better care of their bodies, and conversations have helped others adopt their own better lifestyles for their families and themselves.
The experience has been a real eye-opener.
“I didn’t realize how many Black vegans there are, and vegetarians,” she said. “It has sparked conversation in groups of people where that would have been a major faux pas.”
But whether meat or meatless, building the body is a personal choice, and it’s not too late.
“Do those things that will keep you optimistic about your future, and your body that will help you survive anything, whether cancer or COVID 19. Do those things that will take care of your body that is your responsibility,” she said.
Long time SoCal health advocate Ernesta Wright also works closely with CBHN.
Her recent Act Now event held at Orange Coast College was a success, drawing 102 participants from different campuses to hear expert panelists. Guest speaker sociologist, Katrina Wright, no relation, is a professor at Los Angeles Southwest College. She presented a backgrounder on health and the underserved community.
“Dr. Wright [covered] health equity and social justice, and bridging the gap. It was excellent, she was very informative,” Ernesta Wright said.
Another upcoming outreach effort is soon taking shape at the Orange County branch NAACP.
Still in the planning stages, Wright was tapped by Dr. Fred Calhoun, NAACP OC branch president to lead the formation of a health and wellness committee for a 12-month project.
Wright, executive director of the G.R.E.E.N. Foundation, said she is looking forward to helping formulate the healthy structure with their NAACP’s longstanding civic work.
“We’re just launching it out to the NAACP members. Then it will be broader, but it’s an opportunity for all of us to shape it. It is a team-driven health and wellness department,” she said
The new effort will ensure an evidence-based model at the grassroots level in collaboration with the members of the NAACP, she said.
“We all have agreed to help the NAACP locally and guiding them to a health and wellness component. We’ve taken on the challenge of ground building,” she said.
For more information, see https://www.cablackhealthnetwork.org