On August 20, the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation (Foundation) awarded the Superhero of Medicine award, sponsored by Exact Sciences, to Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH. Dr. Zapata was nominated in 2019 before COVID-19 existed. The pandemic has brought attention to issues that Dr. Zapata has been working against throughout her career – disparities in health care.
Renee Moe of United Way of Dane County and Janine Stephens of the Foundation for Black Women's Wellness nominated Dr. Zapata for this award and when they were asked who her nemesis was, (because all superheroes have a nemesis) they both called out racism and bias in health care.
Dr. Zapata is a neonatologist for UW Health. Just last week a study was published finding that Black babies taken care of by white doctors were three times more likely to die. Not only is Dr. Zapata caring for those babies, she is also dedicated to inspiring and supporting a new generation of diverse women in health care to help change this devastating statistic. Here are just a few of Dr. Zapata’s accomplishments:
- Founded the Madam Dreamers Academy, a virtual mentorship program supporting more than 1,000 young minority women form across the country on their path to medicine
- Founded the Beyond Beautiful International Girls' Empowerment Movement and is a published author on empowerment
- Launched a branch of The Ladder, a national mentorship program geared towards reaching a diverse population of students interested in health fields
- Helped organize a White Coats for Black Lives day at the state capitol with the UW-School of Medicine and Public Health and the Student National Medical Association
Dr. Zapata also has many allies, and believes that the people on the frontlines of the epidemic are today's true superheroes. She honored one of her heroes during the hugely successful virtual award presentation, Jackie Hunt of F.O.S.T.E.R. (Families Overcoming Struggles To Encourage Resilience). Ms. Hunt provides case management, counseling and consulting to families in need and is a dynamic storyteller and author; sharing her experiences with addiction and the criminal justice system. Dr. Zapata surprised Ms. Hunt with a $2,000 check that thanks to Exact Sciences was part of her Superhero award, to continue to support families in Dane County. Learn more about her work and how you could help on Facebook @fosterdanecounty.
The Foundation is proud to support people and programs that work to improve the social determinants of health and look forward to October, when the Foundation will officially launch a collaboration with Dr. Zapata to help expand her work and impact across Wisconsin. Follow the Foundation’s blog and connect with us on Facebook or Instagram to be sure not to miss this exciting announcement!
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