Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse: Are You Doing Your Part?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Do you know what your teen is up to when you’re not looking?  What about your spouse, your parents and your friends?  Hopefully they aren’t rummaging through your medicine cabinet to find something they can take to get high. Many of us would never think to use a prescription drug for something other than its intended purpose, or to take something that wasn’t prescribed for us and absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people who not only consider this, but act on the impulse to misuse and abuse prescription drugs.  Sometimes they work the system and see a doctor, or multiple doctors, and get the prescription for themselves, but often, they are looking through your medicine cabinet when you’re in the other room, getting them for free from friends or buying them online or from dealers.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem; according to the Centers for Disease Control it is an epidemic.  Just like any addiction, it can ultimately ruin or even end someone’s life.  (more…)

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Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet?

When I first started looking into vaccines, I had no idea that an anti-vaccine movement even existed. I came across claims that the vaccines were toxic and dangerous; the diseases, it was claimed, were not. I have some background in science, so I was able to dismiss those claims as inaccurate, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by tragic, angry and deeply personal stories from parents who claimed their children were harmed by vaccines.

I dared not question them, but I still couldn’t understand…

If vaccine injuries were occurring on a scale like this, why wasn’t anybody doing anything about  it?  And why wasn’t the media reporting on them?

I wanted to know more about these vaccine injury stories but worried it would be insensitive to probe or question their accuracy. I could hurt their feelings or worse, insult their child’s memory. After all, while I (more…)

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Iowa Accountability Program’s Judicial Training Institute Aims at Improving the Handling of Domestic Violence Cases

iapDomestic violence is an epidemic that impacts an estimated 6,000 Iowans each year. While many view domestic violence as a private issue, Kimberly Baxter, Director of the Iowa Accountability Program, identifies how domestic violence is truly a community concern: “Domestic violence affects everyone from service providers to families and the community at large. We need to address domestic violence as a community. Brutality behind closed doors is not only real, but also taboo. It is not something we want to discuss, but if we cannot discuss it, how can we address it? How can we mitigate it?” For nearly ten years the Iowa Accountability Program (IAP) has worked to assist victims of domestic violence and the communities in Iowa that support them. This year, the IAP aims to strengthen its impact through its new Judicial Training Institute. (more…)

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“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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Lava Mae

The United Nations states that access to sanitation is a basic human right.  Yet, in the United States the homeless are often forced to go without access to showers. San Francisco is a prime example of this deficit where there are only 16-20 showers to service an estimated 4,500 homeless person population. Today, DW interviews Donnice Sandoval, creator of Lava Mae, a sustainable mobile shower for the homeless in San Francisco. She shows us that sometimes it truly is the simple things that are the most disruptive. 

How were you inspired to create Lava Mae?

Homelessness is an issue I’ve cared about for a long time. I live in a neighborhood that was once predominately middle class African American families. The dramatic gentrification that has overtaken the city has changed that. We’ve watched too many of our neighbors move from their homes to their cars and then the street. I wracked my brain for what we could do but could never figure out how to end or stem the tide of rising homelessness. Then one day I passed a young woman on the street who was homeless and crying, feeling that she’d never be clean. (more…)

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Delete Blood Cancer: What You May Not Know About Bone Marrow Donation

Terri Prof Headshot 0412We all know about blood drives and the importance of blood and platelet donations to save lives. And millions of people are registered organ donors (usually when they get their driver’s license). But did you know that there is another renewable, life-saving resource you could give?  It’s your blood stem cells/bone marrow. Only 11 million Americans are registered with the National Marrow Donor Program to help save lives if their blood stem cells match a person fighting any one of 70 blood cancers and diseases. (more…)

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June 2014 Man of the Month: Ron Goines

In recognition of both National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month  and National HIV Testing Day, DW could not think of a better man to nominate for our June Man of the Month. Ron Goines is the Director at AIDS Foundation Houston and has committed himself to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He also currently sits on the Houston Steering Committee for The Human Rights Campaign and chairs its Houston Corporate Relations sub-committee. Ron’s various roles in service have allowed him to be a resource in the community. His advocacy has expanded to serve every segment of not just the LGBT community but the wider community as well. (more…)

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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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Time in a Bottle: Protecting Kids against Pneumococcal Disease

Picture 38In many ways, 1974 was the good old days. Jim Croce was saving time in a bottle and Connect Four sat under almost every Christmas tree. The speed limit was reduced to 55 mph, which was a good thing for me, because my primary seat belt was Mom’s arm.

And parents weren’t subjected to Internet misinformation about immunization or false claims about vaccines and autism. They didn’t worry about how many vaccines their children received, only that they received them—and they were glad to protect their children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. After all, most parents of 1970s children were very familiar with those diseases: either they suffered from them as children or knew others who had. Our parents knew that not all children who got sick from these diseases survived them. Protecting their own children was a no-brainer. (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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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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The Society for Women’s Health Research Applauds New Guidelines on Preventing Stroke in Women

swhr_icon-2-solidWashington, D.C. – The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) is the leading voice on research into the biological differences between women and men. SWHR President and CEO Phyllis Greenberger comments on the “Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke in Women” issued by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association:

“For almost 25 years, the Society for Women’s Health Research has been the national leader in advocating for understanding how diseases and conditions affect women and men differently. We commend the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for highlighting the risk factors for stroke that uniquely affect women. These guidelines will be an important resource for women and medical professionals everywhere, and ultimately, we believe they will help save lives.

But more needs to be done. (more…)

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Educate, Test, Involve, Treat

IMG_20140206_180005763I was five years old in 1990, when HIV-AIDS was entering the national spotlight, sparking awareness and fear. We were educated in elementary school about the transmission of the virus; I remember a lengthy conversation [ more so my parents talking at me] about why it was important not to touch someone with an open wound. In years to follow, pivotal cultural figures like Magic Johnson would come out announcing their status,  further proving that the disease could effect anyone.

First appearing in the early 1980s, HIV-AIDS quickly became a national concern.  And today,  while advances in the treatment of HIV-AIDS has allowed those infected to live longer, there are serious disparities in the access to health care services for racial and ethnic minorities.

According to the CDC, African Americans have the highest rates of HIV-AIDS when compared to all other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, accounting for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths. And while African Americans represent only 12% of the population, they  accounted for  44% of new HIV infections in 2010.  Without education, intervention, and treatment, it is estimated that  1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be infected with HIV in their lifetime. (more…)

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A Disruptive Conversation with the Co-founders of Personal Medicine Plus

HODGE_PHONE_SCREENSHOT8_white (3)

We love stories about women that are truly changing the face of health care, particularly through innovation. Today is no exception. We recently sat down with Co-founders Natalie Hodge, MD and Brandi Harless, MPH of Personal Medicine Plus, an app that allows individuals to self-manage health through behavior tracking and health data metrics. Both Hodge and Harless shared their experience in developing their tool, being a woman innovation leader, and a few words of wisdom and inspiration to other women interested in following their goals. Check it out below.

What drew you to health innovation technology?

NH: My first passion was in medicine. I always had a deep interest in people and solving problems, so naturally that fits well with a career in medicine.  The interesting thing is that the problems of my early career have largely been solved by vaccines.  And in the 15 years we spent diagnosing disease, the obesity epidemic floated to the top. That’s when the opportunity for me to marry medicine and innovation arose.

BH: After studying global health at Boston University and working on health issues in Kenya, Haiti and Sierra Leone, I accidentally moved back to my hometown in rural Kentucky.  Not knowing if I would stay around, I started working with HIV patients and getting involved in the health of the local community.  After leading a local health clinic for a while, I realized the extreme need to help rural patients turn back their lifestyle illnesses.  When Natalie approached me to work on this startup that would do exactly that, I WAS IN!  (more…)

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Coal Processing Chemical Spill Disrupts Life in West Virginia

On January 7th, 300,000 people awoke to learn that their tap water was unsafe for brushing teeth, brewing coffee or showering. This post was originally published on January 13th 2014, five days after the spill. Since the original blog post, the author’s mother-in-law is still not using her water.  The ban was lifted for her area about 3-4 days later (total 8-10 days), but most of the residents around her are still afraid to use the water.  The news, Governor, water company and others continue to provide such varying information that she has little confidence that the supply is safe.  She has flushed her system several times over the past week, but says that she’s not sure when she will feel comfortable again.  She continues to rely on water at the author’s  sister-in-law’s home in Hurricane and is grocery shopping in areas outside of the concerned area. 

DAY 5, no water.

Two days after my mother-in-law headed home to West Virginia from visiting us in Atlanta for the holidays, she is experiencing day 5 without being able to drink or use water at her home for anything other than using the bathroom. I’m usually worried about her going home too tired or getting stuck in the snow when she comes for the holiday, but this year was a different worry. (more…)


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