Health Disparities and Opportunities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Session Description: 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and brings attention to existing health inequities. American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic and Asian persons are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with a higher number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. From the CDC: “Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.” Current research about disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic will be presented. Learn from the panel about their first-hand clinical experiences caring for many people of color who have been impacted most during the pandemic. Explore solutions and pathways forward to improve care for people of racial and ethnic minority groups. 

This course was originally recorded in September 2020 as part of the 2020 Sepsis Alliance Summit.

Target Audience

Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, emergency responders, healthcare management teams, and other healthcare staff may benefit.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the learner should be able to:

  • Define health inequity and disparity.
  • Discuss current research about disparities and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Review various aspects of health disparities experienced by American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic and Asian persons across the continuum of care.
  • Recognize opportunities and identify actions to take in clinical practice to reduce health disparities.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.25 Participation
  • 1.70 RN CE Contact Hours
    Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
Course opens: 
Course expires: 


Infection Control Officer, Jefferson Health New Jersey and Jefferson Medical Group

Dr. Cindy Hou is an infectious diseases specialist and serves as the Infection Control Officer for Jefferson Health New Jersey and Jefferson Medical Group. Locally, she is the physician lead for the hospital’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee, Infection Control Committee, Infection Prevention Task Force and Sepsis on the Floors Task Force. In 2018, she was named a Hero of Infection Prevention in Patient Safety (a national award) from the Association of Professionals in Infection Control (APIC), and in 2019, she became the first infectious diseases physician to serve on the national Sepsis Alliance’s Advisory Board. Dr. Hou graduated from Yale University. She received her MA and MBA from Boston University, and D.O. from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is fellowed by the American College of Osteopathic Internists, the American College of Physicians, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 

Kristen M.J. Azar, R.N., MSN/MPH

Research Scientist, Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research 

Ms. Azar is a health services researcher at the Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research (East Campus, currently operating as Sutter's Research Development and Dissemination) and has worked with Sutter’s Research Enterprise since 2009. She has diverse clinical experience as a public health and preventive cardiology nurse both domestically and abroad, and has worked with vulnerable and socioeconomically diverse populations throughout her career. Her research expertise includes improving the prevention and management of chronic conditions such as cardiometabolic diseases and mental illness. She also develops and evaluates innovative behavioral interventions, exploring how health technology can be used to enhance care and improve care outcomes. Ms. Azar’s research is aimed at identifying and addressing health disparities and examining the impact of social determinants of health on chronic disease risk and management. She is a founding member of Sutter’s Advancing Health Equity initiative, led by Dr. Steve Lockhart, and continues to serve on Sutter’s Health Equity Leadership Team.  She is currently enrolled in a doctoral program for Epidemiology and Translational Science at the University of California, San Francisco. 

Oscar Casillas, MD 

Medical Director, Emergency Department, Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital 

Born in Santa Monica, CA and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Casillas obtained a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He then completed medical school at UC San Diego before returning home to Los Angeles for Emergency Medicine residency at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. In 2007, he joined the medical staff at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. In 2015, Dr. Casillas moved into a new position as Medical Director for the Emergency Department at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) and helped open this new non-profit hospital in South Los Angeles. Since 2015, MLKCH has quickly grown into one of the busiest Emergency Departments in Los Angeles County. While at MLKCH, Dr. Casillas has been an active medical staff participant, serving on the Medical Executive Committee and numerous other clinical committees. Dr. Casillas is married with four children and has also enjoyed coaching sports at the youth and high school levels for the past 20 years. 

Selena A Gilles, DNP, ANP-BC, CNEcl, CCRN

Clinical Assistant Professor, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Selena Ann Gilles is a clinical assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been an adult NP for ten years, specializing in neuro and pain management. Gilles is passionate about opioid overdose prevention and the management of acute and chronic pain. She is a strong community advocate who works with organizations serving underprivileged communities in Haiti and Ghana. Gilles is currently a member of six professional organizations/associations, including the Meyers Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society Upsilon Chapter, on which she serves as president, the Greater NYC Black Nurses Association, for which she is the programming and community service committee chair. Gilles holds a DNP from Monmouth University, an MS from Hunter College, and a BS from Long Island University. Her doctoral research focused on childhood obesity among African American children, with an emphasis on educational interventions for families that aim to decrease the epidemic.

Mary Owen, MD

Director, Center of American Indian and Minority Health; President, Association of American Indian Physicians

On completion of her training at the University of Minnesota Family Medicine Residency Program in Minneapolis, MN, Dr. Owen returned to Juneau, Alaska to serve her tribal community. After 11 years of full-scope family practice, she returned to Minnesota to lead the Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches on issues in Native American health and serves the broader Native American community by recruiting Native American students to medical school. She practices medicine once weekly for a Minnesota Ojibwe community.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068 for 1.7 contact hours.

Other healthcare providers will receive a certificate of attendance for 1.25 contact hours.

Medical Disclaimer

The information on or available through this site is intended for educational purposes only. Sepsis Alliance does not represent or guarantee that information on or available through this site is applicable to any specific patient’s care or treatment. The educational content on or available through this site does not constitute medical advice from a physician and is not to be used as a substitute for treatment or advice from a practicing physician or other healthcare provider. Sepsis Alliance recommends users consult their physician or healthcare provider regarding any questions about whether the information on or available through this site might apply to their individual treatment or care.

Available Credit

  • 1.25 Participation
  • 1.70 RN CE Contact Hours
    Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
Please login or register to take this course.

This activity includes:

  • Pre-test
  • Downloadable slides
  • Pre-recorded presentation
  • Post-test (80% passing rate)
  • Evaluation

All components must be completed to earn a certificate of attendance. This course can be completed at your convenience.