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HealthCetera

What Does It Take to Improve Societal Health?

By Kenya V Beard

May 4, 2017

 


Chances are you have or you know someone who has asthma, hypertension or diabetes. These are serious illnesses that raise morbidity and mortality rates. Medicine alone is not enough to manage these conditions. To start, individuals should eat healthy foods, avoid cigarette smoke, have access to jobs, health care, and safe communities.

 

But what if you live in a community where there is no grocery store, the air quality is poor, or the unemployment and poverty rates are so high, health is no longer a priority? These conditions are just a few of the realities that impact health for so many individuals. For example, the Morrisania section of the Bronx was once called a “food desert”; a place where grocery stores did not exist and access to fresh fruits and vegetables was inadequate. So exactly how could one eat healthier? In New York, there are some midtown districts where the air quality is at unacceptable levels. What affect does that have on individuals who have asthma and work in those areas? Lastly, there is a direct relationship between poverty and health. Individuals in poor households tend to have worse health outcomes for reasons beyond their control.

 

How do we improve the health of our society when we know that a prescription for medication does not translate to healthier food on the table, better air quality or employment? What are the lessons learned from our past that can be used to inform our future?

 

In the book, Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and Its War on Poverty, Dr. Thomas J. Ward takes us back to the early 1960’s to explore the triumphs and challenges faced by Dr. H. Jack Geiger and others who established the first rural community health center in the United States, the Tufts-Delta Health Center. The Center was established during a time when many African Americans were denied access to health care. When health care was accessible, they had to use the back door, wait in separate rooms or were expected to tell the doctor what their problem was because some doctors refused to touch them. In addition, since emergency care required immediate payment, some died on the hospital steps. Some communities in Mississippi faced astonishing health care challenges that led to the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country. But that was all about to change.

 

Tune in to HealthCetera to hear the conversation with Diana Mason, Kenya Beard, and the author of Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and Its War on Poverty, Dr. Thomas J. Ward. Find out how the Tufts-Delta Health Center addressed the social determinants of health, provided comprehensive health care, and improved the health of a community. Indeed, the lessons learned 50 years ago could still be used today. So tune in on Thursday, May 11th at 1:00 PM to WBAI, 99.5 FM in NYC or streaming at www.wbai.org. 

Kenya V Beard

Choices for End Stage Kidney Disease

By Diana J. Mason

April 20, 2017

Source: kidneybuzz.com

Over 100,000 people are diagnosed each year with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and almost half a million people are living with it. The  progressive nature of the disease often eventually requires patients to go on kidney dialysis to survive, but the quality of life often deteriorates as patients spend multiple hours on each of several days every week hooked up to the dialysis machine. Despite this challenging course, only 10% of  patients with ESRD report having an end-of-life conversation with their nephrologist. The Coalition for Supportive Care of Kidney Patients is seeking to change this picture by having people with ESRD be fulling informed of their end-of-life options throughout the progression of the disease.

 

On April 20, 2017, HealthCetera Radio producer Diana Mason, PhD, RN, interviews two health professionals who are working with the Coalition on this aim through an initiative called My Way: Dale Lupu, MPH, PhD, Associate Research Professor with the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities at the George Washington University School of Nursing and Senior Adviser to the Coalition; and Liz Anderson, DSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Western Carolina University and Consultant/Palliative Care Expert for the Coalition. They discuss ESRD, advance directives, and a new brochure that’s available to help people with ESRD to make their end-of-life wishes known.

So tune in on Thursday, April 17th at 1:00 PM to WBAI, 99.5 FM in NYC or streaming at www.wbai.org. Or you can listen anytime by clicking here:

 

Diana J. Mason
Diana is a founder of the Center for Health, Media & Policy, and HealthCetera Radio. She is the President of the American Academy of Nursing, the Rudin Professor of Nursing at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, and a health policy expert and leader. Diana tweets @djmasonrn.

How Knowledgeable are You?

By Kenya V Beard

April 17, 2017

If you had to rate your level of knowledge on a scale of 1-10, how high would you score if 10 indicated extremely knowledgeable? Now, think about all there is to know in the world and again, rate how knowledgeable you are. Did your score change? If it did, don’t worry, you are not alone.

Many people think they know a lot more than they do and offer strong opinions on matters they know relatively little about. Consider how discussions supporting or opposing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could result in adrenaline-raising debates. A brief pause to discuss the details of the ACA and implications of a repeal could silence the conversation or cause greater confusion. In healthcare, a lack of awareness regarding the limitations of one’s knowledge could prove disastrous. So why do individuals tend to overinflate their level of knowledge?

Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach are cognitive scientists who explain why in their just released, soon to be best seller, Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. The authors state that individuals tend to argue issues based on values and attitudes rather than a deep understanding of details and implications. In addition, information is just so readily accessible it is easy to exaggerate what one knows. The delineation between one’s own knowledge and that which is borrowed is sometimes blurred. Besides the embarrassment of opining on matters that reveal one’s true explanatory depth, the inherent dangers of the “knowledge illusion” could range from damaged relationships and stalled polices to medical errors and plane crashes. So how can a better understanding of the “knowledge illusion” improve safety, lead to less polarizing debates, and spark a more informed discourse?

Steve, a professor at Brown University and the Editor in Chief of the journal Cognition and Phil, a professor at the University of Colorado, will join me on HealthCetera to respond to the above questions and discuss the importance of collective wisdom. Be sure to tune in to HealthCetera on Thursday, April 20th at 1:00 on WBAI, 99.5 in New York City or go to www.wbai.org to stream live. Or, you can listen anytime by clicking here:

 

Kenya V Beard