January 08, 2021

M Health Lab: Anti-racism and Dr. Susan Moore’s legacy

Matthew Wixson, M.D., a 2012 University of Michigan Medical school graduate and clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology, reflects on a U-M alumnus lost to COVID-19

Lauren Smith, M.D., Susan Moore, M.D., and Jennifer Meddings, M.D.

Lauren Smith, M.D., Susan Moore, M.D., and Jennifer Meddings, M.D.

Susan Moore, M.D., was a well-regarded 2002 graduate of the U-M Medical School who died last month after battling COVID-19. Concerns about her care at an Indiana hospital have spurred a national discussion on racial inequities in health care. Moore was a member of the extended Michigan Medicine family. Our faculty, staff and her classmates mourn her loss and extend our condolences to her family and friends.

Like many in the medical community, I first learned of Dr. Susan Moore’s story on Twitter.

“It is so hard to watch this video from our @umich medical school classmate. Rest in Peace, Dr. Susan Moore,” a colleague tweeted. I clicked and the video filled my screen: A Black woman, speaking directly into the camera—nasal cannula in place, hospital gown on—recounted how her medical team had dismissed her symptoms and pain again and again as she advocated for proper treatment.

Dr. Moore died of COVID-19 on Dec. 20.

Though I already knew the outcome of her illness, I watched the video again and again. Tears sprung to my eyes as I saw an ill patient crying out for help. Knowing that she was a physician, a fellow alumnus of the University of Michigan Medical School, made her experience even more personal. If she couldn’t advocate and protect herself in the healthcare system, then who could?

I immediately texted my colleague, asking, “What is it going to take to get equitable care in America?” In the weeks since I sent that text, I have continued to ask myself that question.