Dr. Hildreth testifies before house committee on healthcare disparities

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s the first time a historically black college president has testified before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Dr. James Hildreth, head of Meharry Medical College, discussed healthcare disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hildreth has become a passionate voice in Nashville serving as an infectious disease expert.

“Every single resident of this country — is vulnerable. The color of our skin, the money in our wallet, the neighborhood where we live, do not inoculate us,” Hildreth said.

Hildreth joined the committee to testify virtually on Wednesday. He outlined a plan to join four black medical colleges together with the goal of providing critical needs to under-served areas during the pandemic.

“For example, earlier this month – and with the best intentions – the State of Tennessee sent the National Guard into public housing to test residents. Not surprisingly, the people living there were apprehensive, and stayed behind closed doors,” Hildreth said.

Hildreth said by creating a consortium it would allow for further testing, training and drug development to happen in communities of color that have been disproportionately affected.

“I can assure you that all citizens will be safer. We can deploy quickly, we know where to go, and we will be welcomed,” Hildreth said.

The consortium is ready to move forward quickly if given the green light and proper funding. Hildreth estimated the cost to mobilize this mission would fall around $5 billion over five years.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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