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


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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How Do We Disrupt Cycles of Violence While Simultaneously Supporting Youth?

I think by now many people are aware of the negative effects of bullying on those who are bullied. Youth who are bullied are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Headaches, stomach pains, difficulty sleeping as well as increased risk of suicide or self-harm are among these. The numbers are high enough that government and health officials have taken note and have declared bullying to be a public health issue. Still, research has shown that implementing anti-bullying programs in schools and youth programs have not put an end to the torture many young people endure on a sometimes daily basis. (more…)

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#ThxBirthControl (Seriously…thanks.)

http://blog.thenationalcampaign.org/pregnant_pause/thxbc-2line-hashtag-BLUE-lowrez.pngStop and ponder all that birth control has made possible for women, men, children, and society. A remarkable track record of success wouldn’t you say?

The availability of birth control has played a direct and powerful role in countless aspects of all of our lives. For all of these reasons and more, today is the day that we hope you will join The National Campaign and Bedsider in saying, “Thanks, Birth Control.” (more…)

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You Can Help Make a Difference for Kids with this One Easy Step

central_parkWill you lend us your voice to protect children from pollutants? Children are more sensitive to pollutants: their bodies are still developing; they eat, drink, and breathe more in proportion to their body size; and their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and microbes. (more…)

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Facts vs Myths

Kimberly Baxter 1October is domestic violence awareness month!  Yet, after decades of working to end violence against women and hold offenders accountable, our work is not yet done.  We honor those harmed by, and bring awareness to, the issue of intimate partner violence—domestic violence (DV) or sexual violence because violence against women is serious!

Don’t assume you know what’s happening in your community.  We need to make sure we really know by asking victims.  While the total number of DV victims and offenders has trended lower over the past 10 years, the total number of African American victims and offenders has each increased, while white victims and offenders have each decreased.  African American victims of DV are more likely than persons in any other racial category to sustain severe injury and have twice the rate of severe lacerations and internal injuries when compared with the entire population . (more…)

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Mental Illness, Addiction, and an Unfinished Conversation

EmmaHaylettRecent reports indicate that as many as one in ten adults take antidepressants—among adolescents, the numbers fall to one in 25. Researchers suggest that these numbers should actually be higher, though the existing data has the potential to tell us a variety of things. First, the use of medication to treat depression is going up. Second, more people are admitting to being depressed—but, very likely, there are not more depressed people overall. (more…)

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“You’re not as invincible as you think…”

Tyler1679-2For most of my young adult life, I lived in extremes—I was either overcommitted in school and extracurricular activities, or I was bedbound and hospitalized. I spent so much time trying to prove that illness didn’t define me that the quest for invincibility itself began to overwhelm my identity.

I am a lifelong patient with multiple chronic illnesses, including primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), a rare genetic lung disease, so I’ve had to co-exist with symptoms and setbacks for as long as I could remember. As a college writing instructor, I interact with young adults every day, and I see firsthand the sense of invincibility that accompanies youth.  My students have little reason to believe the long days, the all-nighters, and the jam-packed academic and social lives they lead will catch up to them. Unfortunately, the presence of chronic illness can exacerbate this tendency—and for many of us, the stakes can be quite high. (more…)

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Transportation Planning: An Important Ally in the Movement towards Better Health

An individual or community’s health is dependent upon many factors. Biology and genetics, health care services and individual behavior generally receive the spotlight in discussions of determinants of health. Does the individual eat a healthy diet? Does the family have access to quality preventative screenings? While these determinates are vital, increasingly, social, economic and physical environment determinants of health are being recognized for their contribution to an individual or population’s health status – examples include discrimination, income and environmental exposures. (more…)

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Norma’s Story

norma1“I never thought I’d be one to ask for help.”

Norma is one of the 8.3 million seniors facing the threat of hunger every day in America.

Even though Norma has been receiving meals for almost a year, it’s a position she never saw herself being in, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell you so. While working for the Ad Council in New York City for more than a decade, mingling with celebrities and experiencing the finer things in life were natural for her. Although she never expected to live the life of the rich and famous, she always thought that with her retirement money and Social Security, she would live comfortably and never, ever have to worry about her next meal.     (more…)

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The Different Faces of Caregiving: A Disruptive Women Series

Robin Strongin

September 2013 marks not just one, but two important milestones.  Coincidence?   I don’t think so.  I would say it was Beshert.[i]  Disruptive Women turns five this month while my dad turns 80.

The prototypical New Yorker through and through, some of my fondest memories of my dad include him bringing me and my picket sign to Gracie Mansion in New York City during the big teachers’ strike in the 1960s when I was five; him rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers until they took their extended road trip to the West Coast and then laboring as a NY Mets fan (there was the Carvel ice cream cake in 1969, the year the Mets won the World Series); and his tireless devotion to his career of teaching kids and running schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. (more…)

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