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What's At Stake In 2020? Medical Educator Says U.S. Is At A Health Care 'Crossroads'

Jereka Thomas-Hockaday is a co-founder of the Central Texas Allied Health Institute.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Jereka Thomas-Hockaday is co-founder of the Central Texas Allied Health Institute.

As a health care educator, practitioner and co-founder of the Central Texas Allied Health Institute, Jereka Thomas-Hockaday has had a vested interest in the public health of East Austin’s underserved communities of color during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In conversations that we've had with Austin Public Health, they've identified that there was a huge need for testing in the Eastern Crescent, which is our mostly Black and Latinx communities,” Thomas-Hockaday said.

In partnership with the Austin Area Urban League, the Central Texas Allied Health Institute opened a clinic in East Austin in October to provide free COVID-19 testing as well as social services to families of those testing positive.

Thomas-Hockaday’s goal with the clinic, which is staffed with students of color from the institute, was to reach Black and Hispanic communities.

“We typically understand that communities of color have a lot of trepidation and fear around medicine,” she said. “So, our goal in opening this clinic … was to be able to provide services for our Black and Latinx community using Black and Latinx members of the health care community so that we could drive in more numbers and get more folks tested, and get them aware of their status.“

With the November 2020 elections approaching, the opening of the clinic comes at a pivotal time, Thomas-Hockaday said.

“We are at a crossroads in our country as to how we are going to have a health care system,” she said. “The citizens need to make their voices heard about what type of health care system they want. And the only way you can do that … is to get out and vote.”

Leading up to Election Day, KUT is showcasing different perspectives from Central Texans on what’s driving them to vote. Keep coming back to for more stories about issues affecting local voters.

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