Speaking about medical racism and access to health care, TV icon Oprah Winfrey revealed that in 2007 a doctor misdiagnosed a thyroid problem that caused her heart palpitations. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Ms. Winfrey spoke about her experiences as a Black woman dealing with the healthcare system. She revealed that accessing health care as a celebrity had its downsides, but also its upsides.
Asked what was going through her mind when the doctor misdiagnosed her, Ms Winfrey said: “I actually thought, ‘How irresponsible [of her] not have done a blood test. And I also thought, for the first time, ‘I can see now that when you show up and you’re a familiar person, even though everyone seems excited to see you, they’re also nervous because they have to cover up as well. .’”
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Furthermore, the talk show legend also revealed that the doctor told him, “What was I going to do? You are Oprah Winfrey, and I wasn’t going to let you die without doing everything I thought I could.”
Speaking about the benefits of being a person you know while accessing health care, Ms. Winfrey said getting a doctor’s appointment is easy and you don’t have to wait in line or deal with a lot of excessive delays that other people have. The 68-year-old claimed that she has lived a life of “privilege and advantage” and has even been exposed to the best in medical care.
However, Ms. Winfrey went on to say that the thyroid experience taught her that one needs multiple opinions. She also said that she would never go to a hospital alone and that she would always be accompanied by someone who would defend her. “That’s a hard road, very hard to walk on your own, especially if you’re sick,” she added.
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It is worth mentioning that the interview with Los Angeles Times it was in part to promote a documentary that Ms. Winfrey is producing called ‘The Color Of Care’. The film tackles racial health inequalities in the United States and Ms. Winfrey said she was inspired to produce the film after starring as Gary Fowler, a black man who died on his couch after being turned away from three emergency rooms by symptoms of COVID-19.