Building Our Own Table: Alisha C. Gray, MPH, MS/PA-S

Meet the founder of the Loc'd Ladybug

Hello, friends, after talking to Sharla Stevens and the Ancestors recently, she alerted me to a few mote businesses started and run by Black women. The first of these is the Loc'd Ladybug, a name I absolutely adore. Please meet the person behind the business, Alisha C. Gray, MPH, MS/PA-S

Alisha, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding the Loc'd Ladybug?

I have been in the medical field for over 20 years; and love that my path has been curvy with the common thread of advocacy. I have a background working as an EMT/Paramedic, ED tech, global health practitioner, health program manager, epidemiologist; and with the home insecure, women who experienced female circumcision (genital mutilation/cutting) and populations who have been historically abused by the medical system. I’m currently in the middle of my rigorous physician assistant (PA) education and making it feel & look easy (thanks to God, the Ancestors and my incredible Black & Brown support system)!

Give me the elevator pitch for the Loc'd Ladybug

I am the Loc'd Ladybug in the ear of my clients & patients empowering & providing tools for every healthcare encounter; as a passionate health & patient advocate in the body of a Black Latina, I help melanated patients fully embrace their autonomy and equip them to converse & guide the conversation with clinicians & healthcare providers.

And in more detail?

My health & patient advocacy business was birthed from continuously watching patients have no say, not get to ask questions in regards to their healthcare; from seeing a surprised followed by a relaxed look on melanated patients’ faces when I walk in as their clinician/provider; and from reading medical records labeling patients as “difficult” or “non-compliant.”

My business is all about coaching & educating clients, patients on their own health, health communication & decision-making, and holding clinicians accountable by highlighting strategies to steer a simple and plain language conversation centered around patient health. One of my infamous sayings that I ingrain in my clients, patients is “You are the Expert on You!” therefore the goal of every healthcare encounter is to share expertise between two experts (1: you/patient-on you and 2: clinician/provider-on medicine) with the focus on you as the patient.

What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?

The mistreatment of melanated patient populations and obvious health disparities without actions toward sustainable change. It’s so critically important to level the playing field in a healthcare system that has ignored and been beyond unkind, aggressive & abusive to multiple patient populations. It’s critically important for Black & Brown patients to know their baseline, family & personal medical history and communication strategies, acumen all in efforts to improve health outcomes!

How’s it going? What has the response been?

The response has been incredible to say the least, I had no idea all this time that so many melanated people needed an advocate in their ear helping them to learn as much as possible about their health and then take that knowledge & wisdom into various healthcare encounters to be sure abusive or patriarchal medicine doesn’t continue to be weaponized against them.

There’s a very large part of me that is thrilled to be able to flip the script so that more Black & Brown patients do not get nervous around clinicians/providers but because they are well-informed my clients/patients in turn make the clinicians/providers nervous! THAT is a source of pure joy!! I’m so honored to get to know and fight for & with patient populations that have been using their voice all this time- I just get the privilege of amplification.

What’s next for the Loc'd Ladybug?

What’s next for the Loc’d Ladybug is continuing to work with more melanated clients that want and need a health advocate & coach; and working with clinical educational institutions, hospitals to help foster an environment that is safer for Black & Brown patients, students and clinicians/providers/employees (the goal is empowerment). I’m open to more incoming blessings and opportunities to serve…

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

I have no idea what the future holds, particularly in terms of racism and anti-Blackness. I try not to be realistic in my viewpoint since the outlook seems bleak considering the current state of affairs. My vision however is that every melanated individual feels safe and whole, embracing and are embraced with their authenticity no matter where they find themselves.

I envision a reality where Black & Brown patients are treated well in healthcare settings, feel empowered to exercise their autonomy and inquisitive nature about their own health; and this be welcome by the healthcare system.

I envision a reality where clinicians/healthcare providers are unafraid to have those conversations that make them uncomfortable- realizing that nothing is addressed or changed unless it is brought to light and spoken.

My vision is that accountability & responsibility are not dirty words but calls to action; and that great (physical, mental & spiritual) health and most of all melanated joy are staples & mainstays (as opposed to an act of defiance).

Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add?

I was reticent in regards to putting myself out there and starting a business (especially during my clinical medicine education) but I kept getting not-so subtle reminders that my clients and patients need me. This health advocacy business, investing in myself so I can fearlessly serve others from my overflow is truly a blessing and does not hardly feel like work- it’s all driven by passion and knowing why I was created. I absolutely love that I am my Ancestors’ wildest dream! Paz (Peace)

Folks, I hope you got as much from this interview as I did. Connect with Alisha on LinkedIn, and book a meet and greet on Calendly.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.

I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Co-Founder of Diverse Leaders Group, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast. If you value my perspective, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.

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