When Dr. Shereef Elnahal walked through his New Jersey hospital in April, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
There were 300 patients being treated for COVID-19, filling hospital rooms and spilling out into the halls of the emergency room. The trauma center, once used for gunshot wounds and car crash victims, was now filled with people on ventilators.
“It was really like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark.
“I have memories of walking around and I would look inside the rooms where that was possible. Almost every person was a person of color,” he told NBC News.
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Elnahal’s hospital is one of the more than 100 major medical centers that treat America’s most vulnerable patients: communities of color who have been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19. Data has increasingly shown that Black and Hispanic patients