Health First Physician Dr. Angela Njoku Leads by Example — Strives to Repair African Americans’ Trust in Medicine

By  //  March 14, 2021

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Health First Medical Group’s Dr. Angela Njoku specializes in cardiology

MINORITY DOCTORS and healthcare leaders like Dr. Angela Njoku of Health First are helping to rebuild the bridge of trust from the medical field to the black community, particularly today when a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is being administered to vulnerable populations. (Health First image)

“When it doubt, check it out.” It’s a strong sentiment that’s been shared in the black community generation after generation, especially surrounding medical treatment.

The medical mistrust dates back to the government-run Tuskegee, Alabama, experiment from 1932 to 1972, in which black men with syphilis were intentionally untreated as part of a U.S. study to examine the course of the disease.

So it’s not surprising that in 2021, the same fear and skepticism is still deeply embedded in minority communities. This time, it’s about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is an issue of trust,” said Health First Medical Group’s Dr. Angela Njoku, who specializes in cardiology.

“There have been instances in our history that African-Americans were not treated appropriately in research studies, something that would not have happened to their white counterparts.”

Unfortunately, many of the healthcare holdouts for the vaccine are from black communities. It’s natural for a little African-American boy to have the same trepidation about a new vaccine as his grown-up counterpart, after hearing stories about Tuskegee and more for years.

And the resistance has ravaged minority communities during the pandemic.

“They have higher percentages of untreated or undertreated diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other conditions that put them at risk of these fatalities,” Dr. Njoku said.

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Minority healthcare leaders like Dr. Njoku are helping to rebuild the bridge of trust from the medical field to the black community.

“The vaccine has been tested in thousands of people and has been found to be about 95% effective,” Dr. Njoku said of the two vaccines currently being administered.

“It is also safe – millions have received it without major side effects. With such a brutal pandemic that has claimed millions of lives, a vaccine that offers 95% effectiveness is a blessing. Anything I can do to protect myself and my loved ones from COVID-19 is welcomed.”

Although she’s scheduled to receive her first in the two-shot series, Dr. Njoku said nothing will stand in her way of helping to rebuild African Americans’ trust in the medical world – something we all need to help save lives.

DR. ANGELA NJOKU, a Health First cardiologist pictured inside her Palm Bay office with Awilda Jerez, a patient services representative, works to inform patients about the coronavirus vaccine and how it can safeguard their health. “I trust the vaccine because it has gone through Phase One, Two and Three trials with scrutiny and approval by the Food and Drug Administration. I want other minorities to know all these studies and approvals were done for their protection.” (Health First image)

“I want the vaccine to protect myself, my family and my patients from COVID-19,” Dr. Njoku said.

“I trust the vaccine because it has gone through Phase One, Two and Three trials with scrutiny and approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I want other minorities to know all these studies and approvals were done for their protection.”

Minority leaders such as Dr. Njoku said they constantly counter mistrust and misinformation every day about the vaccines.

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Referring patients to legitimate resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), can help offset rumors and myths.

Minority healthcare leaders continue to do their parts to help inform patients about the vaccine and how it can safeguard their health.

“Getting the vaccine protects you, your family and loved ones,” Dr. Njoku said. “Do not leave your life to chance. Take the painstaking effort to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccine.”

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