“Give me your tired, your poor…”

Laura JacobsonThe rapid influx of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the last few months has spurred a national conversation regarding the United States’ role in offering refuge to these children, the majority of whom are fleeing widespread gang violence and delinquency in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. A key talking point for some in the debate has become the supposed threat to public health that these children pose. (more…)

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My Remarks from Eliminating Telehealth Barriers Briefing

Wen Dombrowski

Thank you for inviting me to share my perspective on telehealth barriers as a physician who is specialized in the care of older adults, people with disabilities, and technology. Much of my clinical experience has been house calls to visit patients who are too frail to leave their home.

Currently I am the Chief Medical Information Officer at the VNA Health Group, a nonprofit with a mission to care for as many vulnerable and underserved patients as possible in their homes and communities.

I have spent more than a decade watching technologies that would be helpful to people with sickness or disability. However, while many telehealth engineering inventions have existed for over a decade, they have been largely unused – not deployed to help patients. These patients could have been your spouse, grandparent, neighbor, or friend. Why isn’t technology that could enhance care not being utilized? It is disheartening to see that federal and state policy and regulatory barriers are preventing patients from receiving the best care that could be available to them.

Let’s think about an analogy for a moment: email – can you imagine doing your job today if you weren’t allowed to use email? (more…)

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Eliminating Telehealth Barriers Briefing Recap

7.18Yesterday, Disruptive Women was on the Hill to host a briefing that looked at the need to accelerate the use of telehealth. Through telehealth we have the technological know-how to remotely bring the doctor to the patient, but because of current barriers it cannot be used to its fullest extent.

Telehealth allows physicians to monitor vital signs and symptoms remotely and conduct consultations over the Internet. It can improve the quality of health care delivery while also making it more cost efficient.   Additionally, it has the potential to address the growing shortages in the health care workforce. So with all these benefits why isn’t telehealth being deployed to its fullest extent? The panelists at yesterday’s briefing discussed the various barriers and why it is critical to address these barriers as soon as possible. (more…)

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In Observance of Jessie Gruman

jessie-gruman picOn July 14th, 2014 we lost a truly outstanding woman to her battle with a long time illness. Jessie Gruman was the president and founder of the Center for Advancing Health. A true patient advocate, she promoted not only patient engagement but the use of evidence-based medicine to support the adoption of healthy behavior.  In addition to her professional career, Gruman defined herself as a musician, avid reader of poetry and interested in foreign policy, the media and global health. She was a true disruptive (more…)

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A Different View – with a Broken Ankle

Meryl Bloomrosen

It felt as though I was having some type of “out of body” experience…falling down the metro escalator and realizing that I could not move. My predicament caught the attention of several Good Samaritans who sensed that something was wrong as I simultaneously screamed in agony and cried out for “HELP.”I am grateful for the willingness of fellow commuters to help me slide off the bottom of the escalator and out of the way of others. I am thankful that no one was right in front of me as I tumbled. I am enlightened by the emergency medical response process and appreciative of the emergency medical technicians (EMTS) who come to my aid, eventually taking me away by ambulance to a nearby hospital emergency department (ED). I was triaged in the ED and diagnosed with (more…)

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Stop Expecting Antibiotics to Be Handed Out Routinely: Here’s Why

Trudy-Lieberman -- biggerFor years, my colleagues on the Prepared Patient site have preached the importance of being an advocate for your own care. And they’ve noted that at times it is necessary to push back against doctors’ recommendations if a suggested treatment does not seem right. I just returned from a visit to the U.K., which drove home the importance of that advice. Coming down with a common cold gave me a chance to experience differences in how British and American doctors approach the nasty symptoms of an all-too-common medical problem.

Let’s face it. Most of us have been given too many antibiotics for sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, even the flu caused by viruses for which antibiotics are not helpful. As we (more…)

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Eliminating Telehealth Policy Barriers

Robin Strongin

We’ve learned from television commercials that you can pick up your e-book reader, punch a button on the touch screen and instantly see a live person appear in front of you to walk you through any technical problems you have with your device.  TV advertising also reminds us that, if your newer model car breaks down, you’re just a click away from speaking with someone who can diagnose your automobile’s problems from hundreds of miles away and send immediate assistance to your location.

These wireless advancements that make our lives more convenient can’t help but beg the question, though – why aren’t we moving just as rapidly to use digital technologies to make ourselves healthier? (more…)

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  • June 2nd, 2014 A Long Way Down a Long Road, But Not Fast or Far Enough
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Measles and Cancer: A Wake-Up Call

    Dr HaleyThe subject of vaccination is both a personal and a professional issue for me. After my daughter was born, there was never any question that we would vaccinate. Of course we worried about a rare adverse event, and seeing that sweet baby flesh poked by needles made us more upset than our daughter. As a physician, however, I understood the importance of vaccinations and the broader implications of public health and herd immunity.

    As an oncologist, I deal every day with cancer patients whose immune systems aren’t functioning properly, due either to the disease itself or from anti-cancer treatments. Even if these patients are properly vaccinated, their immune systems can’t mount an appropriate defense in response to an exposure. (more…)

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    Making Policy Personal

    Shortly after I moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a fellowship with HHS, my aunt was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. I took a trip back to Michigan three months later to celebrate Thanksgiving at my parents’ home where she lived. The chemotherapy she had received during that intervening time had rendered her nearly unrecognizable.  I was at home when she asked me to take her to the emergency room; she died later that day in the ICU.

    I have kept the program from her memorial service pinned to the bulletin board in my office ever since. If you read the dates underneath her name, you will notice that she died the day before her 50th birthday. And even if you read the attached pages of scribbled notes that were my feeble attempt at eulogizing her life, you may not really understand why I keep this type of reminder by my desk rather than a memento of a happier time. (more…)

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    A Community in Need: Public Health in America

    I have been a practicing RN for the past five years. I am also a consumer of public health services.  My experiences have taught me an important lesson: despite reform efforts, health care disparities continue to exist in urban populations. This is especially true amongst the underinsured and uninsured.

    As both a consumer and practitioner in free clinics and health centers in Philadelphia, I can attest to the  disparities in access and quality of care that continue to exist. I recently left an abusive relationship in Harrisburg, PA and am in the process of securing housing and health insurance for myself. To compound upon these issues, I require daily medications and treatments for chronic illnesses, which without I cannot live or function properly, let alone work.  I rely on public health services. (more…)

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    Let’s Talk About It: Trans* Youth and Suicide Prevention

    UnknownAs discussed in my previous article, bullying and discrimination take a toll on young people. In addition to physical symptoms, it can lead to depression, self-harm and, for some, suicide. This is particularly true for queer and trans* youth.

    There are a lot of statistics about suicide among youth, particularly suicide among LGB youth. There is also quite a bit of research on mental health and transgender adults. However, I was hard pressed to find much research that specifically addresses transgender youth and suicide prevention. Although, there is overlap with other research on youth, and many of the same issues that affect transgender adults, also affect transgender teens, it is important to consider the unique difficulties that transgender youth face. (more…)

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    5 Things about Medicare or Medicaid you are too Embarrassed to Ask

    You’ve probably heard of Medicaid and Medicare, but you might not know what each one does. Both programs are social insurance programs managed by the government and provide health insurance coverage for those who meet certain minimum requirements. Usually, the programs are only available for those who are considered “seniors,” poor, or disabled. (more…)

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  • February 3rd, 2014 Surprised and Not Surprised
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Be Bold. Participate in the White House’s virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day”


    Leo: “Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of the White House, had a two-ton  block of cheese. The block of cheese was huge…”

    Josh: “And a Wheat Thin the size of Lake Tahoe…”

    Leo: “It was there for any and all who might be hungry. It was there for the voiceless, the faceless…”

    The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 5 “The Crackpots and These Women”


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