Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Getting Black Doctors and Politicians Together

February 8, 2024 by  
Filed under Highlights


Getting Black doctors and health professionals together can sometimes be like herding cats, with busy schedules, attendant Black stress, and individual agendas being what they are. 

As for politics, it has always been a wild affair — but it has now gone from wild like a tipsy co-worker at the company party with a lampshade on his head, to wild psychotic, like a guy in a Rambo suit and war paint at that same party with a hunting knife and a 30-caliber rifle, making everyone leave the party except those who are as crazy as he is. But there are others who also choose to remain at the party, knowing that it is only at “the party” where we can talk informally and communicate in a way that moves everybody toward solving problems. 

On Martin Luther King’s birthday last month, I met three politicians who have “remained at the party” — in fact, I was invited to it (sans lampshades and machine guns!) To wit, I had the privilege of attending a gathering organized by Nevada State Senator Dina Neal, who serves as the Chair of the Senate Revenue and Economic Development (RED). 

The event was hosted in the beautiful clubhouse at Ascaya in Henderson, where Dr. Akindele Kolade, noted Las Vegas Valley psychiatrist and entrepreneur, served as host. Also, in attendance were at least two other members of the Nevada Legislative Black Caucus: District 1 Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Nevada Legislative Assembly, and District 15 Assemblyman Howard Watts III. 

All three are “run silent, run deep” legislators who are working to represent the interests of Black Las Vegans in the most literal sense of the word. Sen. Neal said she has grown tired of having physicians and other health care leaders come before Nevada Senate legislative committees to testify about the fates of all of Nevada’s citizens with few to none of them being African-American — hence the gathering in order to reach out to the Black health care providers in the Las Vegas Valley that she knew to begin a dialogue between our Black politicians, doctors, and those in the healthcare space. 

Between bites of the delicious food provided by Chef Tyrone Burks of MaccJu’s Menu, I got to meet new colleagues and catch up with old ones. But most importantly, the affair gave all the docs a starting point to connect with our elected officials and one another. 

For me, I was able to communicate to Pro Tem Monroe-Moreno my dismay over the lack of coherent care I see in Las Vegas compared to my experiences as a medical student in the South and a medical resident and practicing physician previously in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area; patients getting discharged from the hospital too early; not enough primary care physicians; sickle cell anemia patients with few options for care, and too much interpersonal and inter-relationship violence in Las Vegas which is, in part, a manifestation of the lack of mental health care here. The infant mortality rate is disproportionately high among African-Americans in Nevada. According to the 2021 County Health Rankings report, Nevada ranks 48th in the nation for health system performance. 

These are the matters I pray and hope this interaction among the doctors and with our Black legislators will help us to address. Thank you, Sen. Neal and Reps. Monroe-Moreno and Watts. 

Darryl L. Fortson, MD practices at Park Hill Family Medicine in Las Vegas (702-444-7796). He is also Executive Director of AASRT, Inc. (

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