A member of IU Health’s board of directors said he is concerned about the experience of Dr. Susan Moore, a Black woman who described receiving inadequate care at the system’s Carmel hospital before dying of COVID-19 this month.
Julius C. Trimble, who also serves as resident bishop of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, said he is connecting Moore’s story with a broader problem facing Black patients who require health care. He also penned an op-ed published on IndyStar this week.
“The question that hangs out over me, you know, is whether or not race is a factor in whether a person receives treatment, and the best quality treatment,” said Trimble, a longtime advocate for racial health equity, in an interview with IndyStar. “That question has to be answered.”
From her hospital bed, Moore posted a seven-minute video describing her care. She said her physician, who is white, ignored her complaints of severe neck pain, refusing to provide her pain medication.
“He made me feel like I was a drug addict,” Moore said.
Moore said she needed to convince her doctor about her breathing difficulties, as well, before receiving a CT scan. The scan revealed problems, Moore said, but she still had to wait hours before the hospital provided her with medicine.
“I put forth and I maintain,” she said in the video, “if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that.”
After being discharged Dec. 7, she went to another Carmel hospital within 12 hours, she wrote on Facebook. Her condition worsened and she died in the hospital three weeks after her diagnosis.
Her struggle to receive pain medicine and other medical care at IU Health North, captured in a New York Times story this month, sparked a national outcry.
In a lengthy statement last week, IU Health CEO Dennis Murphy announced there would be both internal and external reviews into Moore’s death.
“I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care,” Murphy said in the statement. “I am concerned, however, that we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients.”
Trimble, who is the hospital system’s only Black board member, said he agrees with the plans because they include an external review.
He also emphasized that he is not accusing anyone, such as Moore’s physician at IU Health North, of any wrongdoing.
“But I do know the right answer was, and has been, for there to be an external review,” Trimble said, “and for us to promise the community that we’ll pay attention to doing better.”
Murphy has not announced a timeline on the external review.
Moore, who had been a licensed physician in Indiana since 2009, specialized in general family medicine and geriatric medicine.
She is survived by her 19-year-old son and two elderly parents. Moore’s family has declined IndyStar’s interview requests.
Trimble wants to ensure that the community does not forget Moore or the problems facing Black patients seeking medical treatment.
“The question remains: Are we just going to allow this story to fade into the background?” Trimble said. “Or will there be a sustained commitment to really addressing racial health disparity in the state of Indiana?”
He went on: “I would be surprised if we don’t hear more stories in terms of people coming forward questioning our health care systems.”
IndyStar reporters Justin L. Mack and Holly V. Hays contributed to this story.