Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NIH Health Disparities Conference Focuses on Success in Addressing Gaps

The National Institute of Health in a fact sheet on health disparities frames the issue in this way: "Americans enjoyed improved health and longer lives during the latter part of the 20th century. However, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders, who represented 25 percent of the U.S. population, continued to experience striking health disparities, including shorter life expectancy and higher rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, substance abuse, and infant mortality and low birth weight. Scientists believed these health disparities resulted from the complex interaction among several factors such as biology, the environment, and specific behaviours that were significantly impacted by a shortage of racial and ethnic minority health professionals, discrimination, and inequities in income, education, and access to health care."

In Kentucky, Appalachia also is impacted by high poverty levels, a shortage of health professionals, inequities in education and access to health care. HEEL was funded to address the rural health disparities in health literacy. One such project is Team UP! which successfully leveraged a state and local partnership to improve screening rates of never or rarely screened women in 9 east Kentucky counties. This project is being presented at a poster session at the NIH Summit on the Science of Health Disparities this week in National Harbor, MD.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

KY Children not as Healthy as they could be : A Snapshot of Kentucky

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has published a report ranking the states on surrounding social, economic and physical environment factors that affect our health. According to RWJ "the levels of health for most Kentucky children fall short of levels for children in the most advantaged subgroups in the state and across the country."

The reports states:
"Kentucky ranks 30th among states based on the size of the gap in infant mortality by mother’s education, when comparing the current overall state rate of 6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births with the lower rate—3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births—seen among infants born to the state’s most educated mothers.

Kentucky ranks 29th among states based on the size of the gap in children’s general health status by family income, when comparing the current overall rate of 13.1 percent of children in less than optimal health with the lower rate—5.3 percent—seen among children in higher-income families."

See the complete report at RWJF website.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Study Reveals Problems in Costs and Quality of American Health Care System

A study from the Commonwealth Fund reported on the website Cover the Uninsured, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that "chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries," reports Reuters. "Fifty-four percent of Americans surveyed said high costs prevented them at some point from getting recommended medical care, filling prescriptions or seeing a doctor when ill." Read more of the Reuters' article. Submitted by Dr. Bob Flashman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Children Cough Medicine

The new FDA recommendations are to NOT give children under 4 cough medicine. One year ago, the FDA began looking into the hazards of using over the counter cold medicines in children and last month, the FDA and manufacturer's of cough-cold medicines announced that products will have new labels warning against their use with children under 4.

Will parents who grew up being given these medications, pay attention to the labels? As a mother who kept children's cough medicines on hand, I understand the prevalent use of such medications. That is why the FDA according to their press release dated October 9, 2008 made the decision to not ban these medications. The fear being that parents would give adult cough medicines to children.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Osteoporosis Tool Kit Available on Line

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Kentucky Osteoporosis program has made available on-line a tool kit for Extension Agents, Health Department educators and others wanting reliable information for teaching community members about the importance of Bone Health for adults and children. HEEL staff members serve on the state advisory committee and contributed to the development of this tool kit. Access the tool kit at: http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/ach/cd/osteotoolkit.htm

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Health Confidence Survey

More than half of Americans with health insurance coverage experienced an increase in health care costs in the past year, according to the 2008 Health Confidence Survey released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Most who experienced cost increases also reported that these increases had a negative effect on their household finances. In particular, increased health care costs resulted in decreased contributions to retirement and other savings and difficulty in paying for necessities and other bills.
Source: Family Economics News -- Nov. 2008

Bob Flashman

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Does It Cost to Eat a Healthy Diet?

The New York Times reports that he average American spends $7.00 a day on food cost. The World Bank says nearly a billion people around the world live on a dollar a day, or even less. It is difficult to determine the costs to eat healthy. According to the New York Times "many people don’t know how to prepare foods from scratch, or lack the time." Sounds like a good opportunity for the Cooperative Extension Service.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Costs of Care Giving by Baby Booners to Parents

According to an article in the New York Times on October 28th, corporate America is losing billions of dollars because of the soaring number of employees whose responsibilities for elderly parents result in absenteeism, lost productivity, premature retirement, stress-related health problems and other consequences of attending to unpredictable crises during working hours. There are many costs to employers and to employees that are not adequately being addressed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reducing Your Risk of Nursing Home Admission

In the current HEALTHBeat newsletter, Harvard reports that 20-year nationwide survey of people ages 45 to 74 identified five health problems that substantially boost the risk of admission to a nursing home: smoking, inactivity, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Over time, these problems contribute to many chronic illnesses that can cause disability and death, including heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.

Taking action on these health problems can help you keep your independence as you age.

Monday, October 27, 2008

State of Mental Health and Aging in America

Good mental health is integral to overall health and is an emerging public health issue. The CDC’s Healthy Aging Program developed "The State of Mental Health and Aging in America" issue briefs. The recently released first issue brief documents the mental health of older adults 50 years of age and older at the national and state-levels using 6 mental health indicators from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Cooperative Extension in 12 East Kentucky counties is participating in an outreach research project, Mental Health in Aging Initiative funded by the USDA Rura Health and Safety Education grant. This project focuses on building community capacity in Kentucky through raising awareness of the mental health issue in the aging population. "Aging in Kentucky: A Healthy State of Mind" strives to build the social and emotional support that this issue brief addresses as a problem. Adults age 65 or older reported being more likely, than adults 50-64, of "rarely" or "never" receiving the support ehy needed. (12.2% compared to 8.1%).

Friday, October 24, 2008


In the year since increasing the size of street-name signs, repainting median strips, installing larger and brighter stoplights, upgrading walk lights, and adding left-turn lanes along one busy street, Detroit saw a 35 percent drop in injury crashes for drivers age 65 and older and a four percent drop for drivers age 25 to 64.
Source: The Policy Book: AARP 2004 Public Policies, 10-8

Dr. Bob Flashman

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Economic Downturn has Consequences for Health

From the Washington Post covering the uninsured electronic newsletter:

More Americans Forgo Care as the Economy Worsens
"From Park Avenue dental offices to the Arlington Free Clinic, the global economic crunch is forcing a growing number of Americans to scale back on medical care," but some physicians worry that "the short-term savings may translate into more severe long-term health implications," reports the Washington Post. Source(s): Connolly and Marr, Washington Post, 10/16/08

Those who lose health coverage when they lose their job, will be interested in:

Some Doctors Treat Uninsured Patients DifferentlyAn article in the Washington Post by Manoj Jain, a doctor practicing in Memphis, describes the ways in which some physicians treat their uninsured patients differently, which can lead to inadequate treatment and serious health problems.Source(s): Jain, Washington Post, 10/14/08

Dr. Bob Flashman

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Resource to Help Assess Social Determinants of Health

The CDC has a new resource workbook for communities wanting to address health equity. This workbook is for community-based organizations seeking to affect the social determinants of health through community-based participatory approaches and nontraditional partnerships.

Jackie Walters

Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol’s Long Term Effects on health

According to a press release from Harvard Medical School recently posted on their website, women breakdown alcohol more slowly then men do with their tissues being exposed for a longer period of time to alcohol's effects. The factors affecting this are genes, diet and medications. Recent studies in Japan have shown alcohol to be damaging to arteries and the heart. Other studies have shown alcohol to affect breast tissue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New High School Data Shows Some Positive and Negative Changes

The Kentucky Department of Education has taken the 2007 Youth Behavior Risk Survey High School data and compared it to the 2003 YBRS High School data in the form of fact sheets. There is a fact sheet for each of the six categories of priority health-risk behaviors listed above. From 2003 - 2007, a lot of the data remained the same, but there were some statistically significant decreases in tobacco use and alcohol and drug behaviors, while there were some statistically significant increases in injury and violence behaviors.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Links Between Housing and Health

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America produced an issue brief on the relationship of housing and health. According to RWJF, "nationwide, 310,000 children ages 1 - 5 have elevated blood lead levels. Between 1998 - 2000, a quarter of the nation's housing - 24 million homes - was estimated to have significant lead-based paint hazards." According to the Northern Kentucky Health Department, one out of every 11 children in the United States has an elevated blood lead level. In Kentucky, 4,200 children may be affected by lead poisoning. The CDC recommends that very child should be tested for lead poisoning at ages 9 to 12 months and again at age 24 months. Children with a higher risk should be tested more frequently. The lead screening consists of a finger stick.

Cooperative Extension has a series of publications and fact sheets:
Lead Poisoning Prevention -ENRI-504
Lead and Drinking Water - ENRI - 207
Lead in and around the Home - IP-60

Friday, August 29, 2008

Balance Billing: Medical Bills You Should NOT Pay

Business Week has an article regarding health care providers billing patients for the difference between what the insurers pay and what the insurers are billed. This is a common practice and those of us with UK HMO who have used our insurance at regional providers have had that experience. The first time it happened to me several years ago, I started to pay the bill which was quite abit of money. I decided to care the company managing the payments for UK and discovered that I didn't owe the money. While I was on the phone, the representative called the hospital and in just a few moments returned and let me know I would not be billed anymore. One company was sued by an insurer in New Jersey because they used this practice with policyholders. In many cases it is against the law to balance bill patients. Medicare or HMO's are examples. You will want to read this article. During these times of economic distress, Kentuckians do not need to pay more than they owe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kentucky Extension Professionals Use Oral Health Partnership to Educate Communities

This month's Journal of Extension (JOE) features an article written by Sharlee Shirley, former HEEL Specialist. Sharly's article concludes the following: "Over 6,500 Kentuckians have participated in the Oral Health Wellness and Disease Prevention Program, with the majority of those being children ages 10 -12. Unique partnerships have been developed between Cooperative Extension and local agencies such as schools, head start programs, local health departments, family resource centers, and daycare facilities. Also, provider-based partnerships have been initiated, like Cooperative Extension agents working in tandem with local dental professionals to conduct oral cancer screenings and oral health educational workshops. Cooperative Extension has used the Oral Health Wellness and Disease Prevention Program to build community capacity to address the oral health educational needs of its citizens." Access JOE for more information about Extension work.

Friday, August 22, 2008

HEEL Staff now in Erikson 107-108

The Health Education through Extension Leadership Staff would like to announce that we are now in our newly remodeled office suite in 107 and 108 Erikson Hall. As you enter the main entrance of Erikson, we are the first office on your right.