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Medical Professionals Show Support For Protesters With 'White Coats For Black Lives' Movement

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Medical professionals are showing their support for protesters.

They say it's time to recognize racism as a threat to the health and well-being of people of color.

On hospital campuses across the country, there was an eight minute and 46 second silent pause to recognize a critical conversation and a cause that, despite a worldwide health crisis, cannot wait another moment.

"White Coats For Black Lives" is a movement that's personal in so many ways to Dr. Chinwe Ogedegbe, an ER doctor at Hackensack University Medical Center and a black mother of three boys.

"Every time they step out, I am fearful. Fearful, terrified that... will they come back?" she said.

She's humbled to see her work family taking a stand, or rather a knee, recognizing racism as a public health concern while supporting the demonstrations nationwide.

"It's very, very moving," Ogedegbe said.

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"If you weren't working so much, would you be out there protesting?" CBS2's Jessica Layton asked.

"Yes indeed," Ogedegbe said. "To show people that that disciplined peaceful protest is very, very needed."

The staff at Hackensack and at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Jacobi Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering are doing what they can while on the job.

"We're here acknowledging the injustice," said Dr. Mark Robson of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

"I've never seen so many white friends, allies, colleagues ... talking about it, being committed," Ogedegbe said.

The doctors and nurses taking part in this call to action just spent three months on the front lines of the coronavirus, which we know has disproportionately affected the African-American community. They are reminding anyone protesting the threat of COVID-19 is far from over.

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"The 20 to 30% that do not have a mask on or take it off should please get a face cover," Ogedegbe said.

She also added another piece of advice for all of us.

"Making small acts of kindness every day would go a long way, it's a great start," she said.

But it's only a start in this marathon mission for change.

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