Viewpoints: VA Isn’t Broken, But Here’s How To Make It Better; Build A Safety Net For Mentally Ill Students That Goes Beyond Police Training
Editorial pages focus on these and other health topics.
The Washington Post:
VA Isn’t Broken. But It’s In Desperate Need Of Change.
Last month, President Trump nominated Navy Adm. Ronny L. Jackson to be the 10th secretary of veterans affairs. As the fourth VA secretary, I wish him well. The agency is not broken, as many outside commentators seem to think. The department provides world-class health care to more than 6 million patients every year and disability compensation to more than 4.6 million veterans. It administers nearly 3 million home loans annually, is helping nearly 950,000 veterans attend school and maintains 135 cemeteries as national shrines. (Anthony J. Principi, 4/10)
Police Are Our Safety Net For The Mentally Ill In Crisis
Here’s the hard truth: What happened at the University of Chicago, where a campus police officer shot an allegedly threatening student, is exactly how our mental health system is designed to operate. For years the mental health community has argued that police should not be the safety net for mental health crises. Years. And the response from decision-makers and elected officials has not been to increase mental health funding. Or to build a comprehensive mental health crisis system to handle such situations. Or to pour funding into college campuses where 25 percent of people first experience the onset of mental health conditions. No, the response has been to pay for better police training. Until we put money and effort and thought into building a better mental health system, police officers will remain the safety net. (Alexa James, 4/10)
Des Moines Register:
Instead Of Getting Ahead On Medical Marijuana, Iowa Got Outpaced
It was a rather remarkable statement to hear from the head of a company investing more than $10 million to set up the first medical marijuana manufacturing plant in Iowa."I think the jury is out whether we can survive under the current law or not,” said owner Chris Nelson.Whoa. The MedPharm Iowa plant hasn’t even opened, and the man who won the exclusive right to grow and process marijuana for medicinal use is doubting its chance of success? (Rekha Basu, 4/10)
Medical Marijuana Could Solve Opioid Epidemic
America’s opioid crisis has taken a staggering toll, killing more than 42,000 people in 2016 alone and more than 250,000 people over the past decade. On Thursday, underscoring the severity of the crisis, Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged “health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose (to learn) how to use naloxone and (keep) it within reach.” “Get naloxone,” he wrote. “Save a life. ”Naloxone is the highly effective anti-overdose drug now routinely carried by many first responders. Adams’ suggestion that so many Americans have it at hand is a stunning acknowledgment of the pervasiveness of opioids, which he said kill 115 people a day. ...Yet a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine magazine points to the promise of an inexpensive, far safer drug that could be used as a painkiller instead of opioids: marijuana. (4/10)
What Is A Dignified Death? As Her Mother Slips Away, A Daughter Wonders
A Death with Dignity bill is once again under consideration in the state legislature. Its passage would enable a patient like my mother to not only state what medical measures she wanted to be withheld so as not to prolong her life, but the point at which she’d want a medical professional to end it. (Julie Wittes Schlack, 4/11)
Microhospitals And Healthplexes Offer A Peek At The Future Of Health Care
One initiative that holds particular promise is the microhospital, either standing alone or situated as part of a local “healthplex” replete with an exercise facility, laboratory testing, IV therapy, imaging, and pharmacy services. Microhospitals’ outpatient or short-stay facilities often hold fewer than 50 beds, and are able to tailor their offerings toward their communities’ specific health needs. ... These facilities offer a much-needed middle ground between costly, over-large hospitals and underequipped, freestanding EDs. (Rita E. Numerof, 4/10)
Des Moines Register:
Inaction On Medicaid Leaves Iowans' Health Care At Risk
Iowans want to know that they have access to quality health care in their communities now and in the future. It’s more than a reasonable expectation; it’s a fundamental and basic duty we owe to each other. Unfortunately, the privatization of Medicaid by former Gov. Terry Branstad that has been continued by Gov. Kim Reynolds has undermined that fundamental duty of care. ...Now, a report from the state Ombudsman confirms what we already know from Medicaid patients, health care providers and Iowa taxpayers who contact us with their concerns every day: Privatized Medicaid is failing Iowans. (Nate Boulton, 4/10)
Putting A Price Tag On Childhood Hunger
It’s hard to put a price tag on hunger, but a new report does just that: $2.4 billion. In 2016, that was the cost in Massachusetts alone for additional healthcare, special education, and lost work time related to food insecurity. This validates what I see regularly as a pediatrician. I’m a street doctor in Austin and Central Texas. I care for high-risk and homeless children living in shelters and alleyways, and I see firsthand hunger’s effects on their health and learning. Whether it is a chronic condition like diabetes or a developmental delay affecting success at school, food insecurity has devastating consequences for kids. (Michael K. Hole, 4/10)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Early Head Start Supports The Potential Of Missouri’s Children
When Lilbourn, Mo., residents Faith Cole and Lorenzo Hill found out they were having a baby, they were determined to be the best parents they could be, so a few months into Faith’s pregnancy, they enrolled in Early Head Start. It’s the only federal program specifically designed to support healthy prenatal outcomes and improve the early education experiences of low-income babies and toddlers. Through Early Head Start, each week Faith and Lorenzo met with a home visitor who was trained in prenatal care and child development. They learned how to support the intellectual, social and emotional development of their new baby. When their son Lawson arrived, they felt well-prepared to take on this new chapter in their lives. (Michael Gaffrey and Matthew Melmed, 4/10)
Who Would Be Punished For Abortion In A Post-Roe America?
The discovery of right-wing provocateur Kevin Williamson’s wistful 2014 musings — that abortion should be “treated like regular homicide under the criminal code” with punishments “up to and including hanging” for women who obtain them — got him fired Thursday from his new job at The Atlantic and again put abortion-rights opponents on the defensive. No, no, no, they said, reiterating the protestations they offered in March 2016 when then-candidate Donald Trump declared, “There has to be some form of punishment” for women who terminate their pregnancies. It’s doctors, they said, not patients, who will be treated as criminals should abortion be banned. (Eric Zorn, 4/10)
Are Research And Medicine Catered To Only A Certain Type Of People?
Ideally, medical research should benefit everyone in society. Unfortunately this has not historically been the case. Populations such as children, women, and minorities have been consistently excluded from research, often due to unconscious or implicit bias or difficulty in adjusting research design to be more inclusive. (Angira Patel and Nana Matoba, 4/10)
Medicine Has An Unhealthy Gender Pay Gap
Two of my female colleagues recently learned during water cooler conversation that a much junior male physician was making a larger salary than they were. Armed with this knowledge, the women successfully negotiated pay raises. These women are far from the only colleagues I know who have discovered that the gender pay gap extends to the medical field as a result of unexpected conversations. Most hospitals and clinics do not freely publish or advertise this inequity. (Roshini Pinto-Powell, 4/10)