Today is National Wear Red Day

National Wear Red Day® is a special day dedicated to bringing attention to this staggering fact that each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. Today we wear red to encourage women to raise their voices, know their cardiovascular risk and take action to live longer, healthier lives. For more information visit:

In honor of National Wear Red Day® we are re-running the post below.

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Heart Disease – It Looks Different From a Woman’s Perspective

By Terri L. McCulloch

Lara D. knew that heart disease ran in her family. Her father had his first heart attack at 46.  His second, two years later, took his life when she was in high school. She learned intimately the impact that a heart attack has on a family. She saw her mother struggle to keep her children on track while trying to manage her own feelings of loss. Her college years were spent working full time and going to a community college in the evenings to get her degree and become a CPA. (more…)

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Latest Survey Findings from the Society for Participatory Medicine

A new national survey from the Society for Participatory Medicine found that patients overwhelmingly believe a partnership with their health care provider improves their overall health. The survey also found that people see benefits in monitoring and sharing their health information between visits. The results can be seen in the infographic below (also available for download here). (more…)

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Fighting the injustice of health disparities: Honoring the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Dr. John M. Eisenberg

Robin Strongin

The past several years I have run this post and because it continues to have a very important and relevant  message I am sharing it again.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.John EisenbergWe, as a nation, have made progress and I believe Dr. King would be proud. But our work is far from complete – particularly where health care is concerned. Another doctor, Dr. John M. Eisenberg, a physician of tremendous stature whose life was also tragically cut short (not by an assassin’s bullet but by brain cancer) was equally passionate about the dignity of life and justice for all Americans. Dr. Eisenberg, who among other things, served as the Director of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (as AHRQ was known back in the day), cared deeply about access to and the integrity of health care for all Americans – regardless of skin color.

Fifteen years ago, on January 14, 2000, Dr. Eisenberg gave what is, in my opinion, a brilliant speech to the employees of the Department of Health and Human Services. As with the past years I want to share his words with all of you today — as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. (more…)

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Food, Health and Public Policy

Meryl Bloomrosen

I am someone who has worked for many years “inside the Beltway” (aka Washington DC), who admittedly wears the “policy wonk” hat, and was a (long distance) caregiver for elderly parents in the last years of their lives, one of whom faced eating related complications and consequences.   Because of these experiences I advocate on behalf of people who live with chronic diseases.  I appreciate more than ever how important it is to comprehensively explore issues related to public health topics such as obesity, food insecurity, food labeling, food literacy, and food shopping.  Indeed, the intersection of social factors, community, education, environment, behavior and health are prominent components of current health policy discussions and activities. [1] [2] [3]

The prominent health policy publication, Health Affairs recently devoted its November 2015 issue to Food and Health.  However, most noticeably and disappointingly absent in the discussions about food and heath were the perspectives, values and needs of people living with the challenges of chronic, life threatening and incurable food related diseases, such as food allergies[4].  Food allergies present significant health burdens for patients and their families and caregivers. Public policies related to food and health must consider diverse patient perspectives and values based on their unique circumstances and life goals. (more…)

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Disruptive Women and the White House Collaborate to Improve Men’s Health

mens 1During an afternoon’s worth of inspiring stories crystalizing the need to get men more engaged in their health, one speaker perhaps shared the day’s most powerful moment, speaking from a podium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, among an audience of esteemed guests, advocates and stakeholders.

John Kevin Hines recalled a day in San Francisco when he felt that he could no longer go on. Seeking just some simple positive interactions with other members of his community – an offer of encouragement or support – he instead got silence. Soon after, he found himself at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, where, amidst his feelings of hopelessness, he hurled himself off the side. He said, upon his descent towards the water, he immediately regretted the decision; he had made a mistake.

He wanted to live. (more…)

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Best of 2015: Why Don’t We Take Tanning As Seriously As Tobacco?

sherry pagoto at work2Back in May being to celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month and in tandem with our event we co-hosted with the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, The Hazards and Allure of Indoor Tanning Beds on College Campuses we are ran a series on skin cancer.  Today’s best of 2015 posts is from that series.

In 2009, upon review of the science on tanning beds and cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer assigned tanning beds a class 1 carcinogen, joining tobacco and asbestos in the highest classification of harm. In spite of this development, skin cancer rates have steadily climbed over the last 3 decades. Rising prevalence is seen especially in young women, with an 8-fold increase since 1970. Melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer is now the most common cancer in young adults aged 25-29. Skin cancer is hitting young women especially hard because they are the heaviest users of tanning beds. Recent statistics reveal that 19% of teens and over half of university students have used tanning beds. (more…)

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My Letter to Santa

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe following post originally appeared on author Lisa Suennen’s blog Venture Valkyrie.

Dear Santa,

imagesI’m writing to you with my Christmas wish list. I realize that I am a little over the typical age limit for this activity, but I am pretty short so maybe I can still pass for a kid? I also know that, as a venture capitalist, I may automatically default to the “naughty list.” But I am an eternal optimist and I’m hoping that the social value inherent in investing in healthcare instead of video games and drones can help me put a few points on the Santa board.

Here’s to hoping that my wishes will be fulfilled, For what it’s worth, I will be listening for Rudolph et al on Christmas Eve, cookies at the ready. I make really good cookies. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1. Great companies with rational valuations –I know it’s hoping for a lot, particularly the latter part, but hey, it never hurts to ask. (more…)

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The New Rules of Fight Club, as Written by Women

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe post below originally ran on Venture Valkyrie on November 18.

BB8PORT.jpge204a4df-b817-46ad-a795-355912fc5e70OriginalIf you have any doubt that women’s roles are becoming more important in the workplace, look no further than the upcoming new Star Wars film. In the film, the main robot character, BB-8, has been designed to be female, according to news reports…and not just female, but pivotal to the plot and strong in character.

I love this new twist on Star Wars, as it occurs to me that it is our national standard to default to assuming most things are male, especially robots and CEOs, unless they are pink and purple and frilly. But most of the strong, fierce and successful women I know are neither pink nor purple nor frilly but are far closer to BB-8: curvy perhaps, but strong in character and pivotal to the plot. More often than not, they dress in black like the ninjas they are.Female-Ninja-ninjas-34049725-600-451

I read this story about BB-8 while on my way home from a retreat with a group of very senior female healthcare leaders.  It’s an organized group who meet once a year to share thoughts, stories, encouragement and support. (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Elizabeth Taylor

ElizabethTaylor2By any professional standards, Elizabeth Taylor is an extraordinarily skilled attorney.  What makes her special – and a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016 – is that she uses her gifts to improve the health and well-being of millions in need.

Taylor is executive director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).  The NHeLP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the health rights of low-income and underserved individuals.  As the organization describes itself, “NHeLP defends the nation’s health care safety net for those most in need and those with the fewest resources. We fight to give at-risk populations a voice in federal policy making, promote the rights of consumers in emerging managed-care systems, and advocate for creative solutions that preserve the government’s responsibility as the provider of last resort.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Patricia Lee Stotter

pl-stotter2There are scores of female veterans who have served their country with valor, suffering physical and psychological disabilities in the course of fulfilling their duty.  The extraordinary challenges they face in transitioning back to civilian life should not go unrecognized.

Patricia Lee Stotter, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016, has made certain that the strength and heroism of these women is made known to their fellow citizens.  She is one of the filmmakers who created the Emmy-award winning documentary, “Service:  When Women Come Marching Home.”  The film received stellar reviews, including four star praise from the New York Daily News, which wrote, “While the film doesn’t blink in showing the impact of service injuries, it also stresses the resilience of women veterans.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Linda Rosenberg

linda-rosenberg2In June of this year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, publicly recognized Linda Rosenberg, the president of the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH), for her work in increasing access to mental health care services and in preventing suicide.

In his speech explaining why Rosenberg was selected for the Allies in Action Nonprofit Partner Award, the AFSP Vice President for Public Policy said, “With contributions like Ms. Rosenberg’s and her organization, we are much closer to achieving our goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025.  This award recognizes the invaluable collaboration of Ms. Rosenberg and the NCBH team and AFSP on issues like the Excellence in Mental Health Act, our joint Mental Health Consumer Tools and now in Mental Health First Aid.  Our work together will save lives.” (more…)

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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, A Must Read for all Women (and Men)

Pat Ford Roegner

Kate Clifford Larson’s masterful examination of the nearly-forgotten story of Rosemary Kennedy – sister of a President and two other famous brothers, but confined to the shadows for decades after a lobotomy – drew me in on multiple levels.  As a health professional, as a woman, as an activist – and as the niece of another soul lost to that misguided and devastating medical procedure of the early 20th century.

Even with his vast financial resources, and his political and personal connections, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., perhaps saw no other way to deal with his mentally troubled daughter.  Maybe, amid the shame and blame game of the times concerning mental health, the Nobel Prize-winning procedure seemed like a legitimate answer to a potentially embarrassing media story as the elder Kennedy made ambitious plans for his sons. God knows they tried the most exclusive schools for their beautiful but disturbed daughter before deciding to destroy a portion of her brain.

In the same era, the working class Campbell family of Philadelphia also faced fear of the unknown, limited financial resources, lack of medical or mental health options, and taboos associated with “diseases of the brain.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

Dara-richardson-heron2A physician by trade, an advocate by choice.

That’s how Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., the chief executive officer of the YWCA, describes herself.  And while her would-be patients would almost certainly have benefited if she had continued actively practicing medicine, there is no doubt that society as a whole – and particularly those facing the greatest life challenges – is better because of Dr. Richardson-Heron’s decision to devote her talents and energies to social activism.

Under her leadership, the YWCA has become far more than an iconic organization with over 1,200 locations in 47 states.  It has proven itself time and time again to be an active, effective force dedicated to empowering women, fighting racism and promoting freedom and dignity for all people.  There are, in fact, multiple reasons why Dr. Richardson-Heron is an easy selection as a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016. (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Kathy Martinez

Kathy-Martinez-June-2014-2-199x300_2In 2015, Americans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  But just as it is important to recognize that, for a quarter century, the law of the land has protected individuals with disability from discriminating, it is equally critical to acknowledge that there remains a significant employment gap in our society.  Americans with disabilities are far less likely to be gainfully employed and far more likely to be reliant upon public assistance programs.

There is no greater champion in trying to change this paradigm than Kathy Martinez, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016.  Until February of 2015, Ms. Martinez was an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor, in charge of disability employment policies.  She has now moved into the private sector as an executive with the Wells Fargo financial services corporation, expanding the company’s capabilities and programs dedicated to serving its customers with disabilities. (more…)

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  • November 2nd, 2015 Global Walk for Freedom
    By Glenna Crooks