ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — NEWS10 ABC continues recognizing Remarkable Women of the Capital Region, this week looking at the field of medicine. Health care has advanced tremendously over the years, but not equally for everyone. Studies show certain minority groups receive less care and have worse outcomes. NEWS10’s Lydia Kulbida has the story of one remarkable woman’s efforts to change that.
Dr. Brenda Robinson’s personal experiences started her on the path to health care, but she ended up blazing a new path to empower her community and work to eliminate health care disparities.
You won’t find Dr. Brenda Robinson sitting in an office to figure out what’s needed to improve the health of people in Arbor Hill. She brings blood pressure screenings and educational resources wherever needed, as well as inviting people into the home she set up for the group she founded, the Black Nurses Coalition.
“You have to go out into the community and find out what the need is,” says Dr. Robinson. Case in point, at a recent forum on asthma, the young mothers knew about asthma, but did not know what to do in case of an attack.
“They did not know what to do if their child had an asthma attack and stopped breathing,” said Dr. Robinson. “So they did not know CPR basic life support. So you pick up on that and February we’re going to have a community CPR course for free.”
Dr. Robinson learned from a young age to care for others, helping her grandmother in church visit the sick. But it was her mother’s illness and death from breast cancer at the age of 54 that gave her care a higher purpose.
“African American women are less likely to have breast cancer than Caucasians, but die at a higher rate and that just doesn’t add up, ” Dr. Robinson points out. “Looking at my mom, knowing if I knew then what I know now, I could be a stronger advocate. And that drives our organization, that really does. We have to show people how to advocate, educate them on how to articulate what they need.”
Dr. Robinson worked full-time, raising four children, and step by step took the classes to further her career from nursing assistant to receiving her doctorate, grateful for her family’s support then and now as they continue to help.
“You can’t do it alone, you just can’t,” she acknowledges.
That’s also her motto for reducing health care disparities … serving on the Albany Commission of Human Rights, as a Public Library Trustee and the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association in addition to running the Black Nurses Coalition.
“I love being on the commission of human rights, I love dealing with the library because it’s wonderful,” said Dr. Robinson. “And Arbor Hill, I just love the great streets of Arbor Hill. It’s so important because everything is connected.”