News

Public Health Post Fellowship

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                    [post_content] => Public Health Post is an online forum that reaches out to policymakers, journalists, scholars, and students. We catalyze conversation on population health and health policy at a local, national, and global scale through good writing and social media.

Who should apply?

Students passionate about public health communication, journalism, social media, and change-making should apply for our fellowship.

What you will do as a fellow

PHP fellows translate data and research to communicate critical issues in public health and social justice. As part of high-functioning team, your primary responsibilities are to research and write content for PHP's website and newsletters, and create social media conversation on PHP's Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn. You will interview health leaders, travel to conferences, and participate in the Public Health Post start-up culture.

Stipend

Fellows will receive a $12,000 stipend for their year of participation.

Eligibility

You must be a Boston University student currently enrolled in a Masters program.

Application requirements

Email the following to Melissa Davenport, Managing Editor, at davenpor@bu.edu
  • Cover letter
  • Your resume
  • Writing sample 1: write a paragraph analyzing one article from the Public Health Post site, describing the strengths and weaknesses of the article, and how you might improve it
  • Writing sample 2: choose an original research study from any academic public health journal and summarize its importance in two sentences (include a link to the journal article)

Fellowship Info reception

Join us at our drop-in info session on Wednesday, September 26, 5:00-6:00 pm, in Talbot 332W. Bring your questions, meet and chat with this year's PHP fellows and editors. Refreshments will be served!

Questions?

Email Melissa Davenport at davenpor@bu.edu!

Application deadline:

Monday, October 15, 2018, 12 midnight EST 

  [post_title] => Public Health Post Fellowship [post_excerpt] => Public Health Post reaches out to policymakers, journalists, scholars, and students to catalyze conversations on population health policy. Students passionate about public health communication, journalism, social media, and change-making should apply for the Public Health Post fellowship. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => public-health-post-fellowship [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-13 19:06:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-13 23:06:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=686 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Public Health Post reaches out to policymakers, journalists, scholars, and students to catalyze conversations on population health policy. Students passionate about public health communication, journalism, social media, and change-making should apply for the Public Health Post fellowship.

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News

The Monthly Shaming of Women in State Prisons

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                    [post_content] => When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

The House Rules Committee’s discomfort around the subject matter of feminine hygiene and menstruation stalled the bill. This led to the #LetItFlow campaign, in which women sent envelopes stuffed with letters, donations, and pads to Rep. Lawrence’s office. The overwhelming response pushed the Arizona Department of Corrections to release a statement of immediate policy change regarding sanitary product allocation in prisons, as well as the (marginal) passing of House Bill 2222.

Lack of sanitary products in prisons results in humiliation. The shame women experience during their period is heightened among women incarcerated, who are vulnerable to inhumane treatment, and humiliation by correctional officers.
A 2017 Bureau of Prisons report cited many prisoners continue to experience irregular allocation of products, restrictions on availability of product type or size, or having to pay for products.  
Although federal prisons passed legislation in 2017 to provide free menstrual products, reports indicate that many prisons were failing to provide adequate supplies. A 2017 Bureau of Prisons report cited many prisoners continue to experience irregular allocation of products, restrictions on availability of product type or size, or having to pay for products. Furthermore, the federal legislation only reaches a small portion of women prisoners as 95% of incarcerated women are housed in local jails or state prisons. Therefore, the number of sanitary hygiene products provided to incarcerated women each month varies by state. Only four states and New York City have passed legislation granting access to free feminine hygiene products in prisons. Access for prisoners in state facilities across the rest of the US is limited. More than half of the women in New York state prisons report not getting enough pads per month. Female inmates in West Virginia state prisons cannot possess more than two boxes of tampons at a time. Inmates in Delaware have to ask guards for sanitary pads, and are only given up to six at a time. And tampons must be purchased.
Incarcerated women also face health risks, particularly when they are forced to improvise menstrual hygiene supplies, using toilet paper or maxi pads as tampons, or notebook paper to wipe themselves.  
Menstrual products provided in state prisons are often of poor quality or provide minimal protection. In turn, women are forced to ask guards for more, a subject often uncomfortable or difficult to broach given that 40% of guards in female state prisons are male. Prisoners have the option to purchase hygiene products from a commissary which are often unaffordable on their less-than-a-dollar hourly salary. Furthermore, female inmates often do not have the outside financial support that male prisoners have, making sanitary products rare commodities, and traded as bargaining chips. Incarcerated women also face health risks, particularly when they are forced to improvise menstrual hygiene supplies, using toilet paper or maxi pads as tampons, or notebook paper to wipe themselves. These unhygienic and abrasive substitutions can result in bacterial infections, toxic shock syndrome, sepsis, and even death. Prisons have historically  been constructed for men, producing a system built around gender biases. Structures from health care to jail use assessments tools have been designed to test individuals who are gender-neutral or for men, leaving women to suffer from harsher jail assessments and inadequate access to health care. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the United States is the only democratic nation that fails to have an autonomous agency to assess conditions and enforce health and safety standards of prisons. Feature image: Floortje/iStock [post_title] => The Monthly Shaming of Women in State Prisons [post_excerpt] => Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the United States. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sanitary-products-women-state-prisons [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-05 09:04:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-05 13:04:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=5464 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the United States.

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News

Reimagining Pediatric Care

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                    [post_content] => Pediatric care has not changed significantly in the last century, despite evolving patterns of morbidity and mortality for children. Although social and environmental problems may influence a child’s health, pediatric visits are often too short to address such challenges. Efforts to redesign care have been stymied in part because traditional payment models, with focus on volume of services or short term cost savings, inhibit innovations that promote long term health. The Boston Medical Center (BMC) Pediatrics’ Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family, launched in January 2017, is building a vision for child health equity. Our proposed “Pediatric Practice of the Future,” is based upon the premise that all children have an equal opportunity to be healthy, ready to learn, and able to achieve their full potential.

Since its inception in 1864, BMC, known until 1996 as Boston City Hospital, has sought to provide “exceptional care without exception,” serving patients from across the region facing significant adversity. The BMC Department of Pediatrics has always been a leader in care innovation and addressing social drivers of health. Programs such as Reach Out and Read, Health Leads, and the Medical Legal Partnership, which address root causes of health disparities, originated in BMC Pediatrics and have since become national models. With this important prior work as a foundation, the Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family is supporting the development, testing, and scaling of novel health delivery approaches, working in concert with families, communities, and other sectors engaged in delivering services to children and families.

The Center’s methods include human-centered design, quality improvement, rigorous evaluation and tailored approaches to scale. A core element of the Center’s mission is to place families at the center of the redesign process, using their voices to innovate the current healthcare model. The Center is also building capacity to better measure and evaluate the impact of new and ongoing programs on patient wellbeing. Through these efforts, the Center expects to create better linkages between patients and the services they need.

Healthy and Ready to Learn by 5

To move toward radical redesign of pediatric care, the Center has a set a goal that, by 2028, all children cared for by BMC Pediatrics will be healthy and ready to learn, with adequate supports to thrive in school by age 5. Services provided for children in this age group will focus on optimizing children’s physical and emotional health, supporting stable and nurturing relationships with adults, and providing opportunities for high quality early education. Focusing on this formational time for growth and development creates opportunities to address family wellness holistically. It also encourages education and social service sectors to share accountability for the health and wellbeing of families.

Pediatric Practice of the Future

To date, two clinics at BMC, supported by the Center, are testing innovative approaches to pediatric primary care delivery. The Supporting Our Families through Addiction and Recovery (SOFAR) clinic is providing care to mothers affected by substance use disorder and their babies. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Clinic is strengthening the linkage between school and primary care by offering specialized developmental and behavioral care and referrals for children who need support tailored to their specific needs. Additionally, the Center has established a Pediatric Family Advisory Board to ensure that the care redesign process continues to be aligned with the mantra popularized by the disability rights movement, “nothing about us without us.” In deep collaboration with families, community partners, and BMC leadership, faculty and employees, the Center is reimagining what pediatric care might look like if families facing the most adversity are empowered to define their own health priorities and given access to the most innovative care. Feature image: mapodile/iStock [post_title] => Reimagining Pediatric Care [post_excerpt] => The Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family is building a vision for child health equity, based on the premise that all children should be healthy and achieve their full potential. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => reimagining-pediatric-care [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-08-31 05:43:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-31 09:43:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=5444 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

The Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family is building a vision for child health equity, based on the premise that all children should be healthy and achieve their full potential.

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News

Medicaid for Idaho?

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                    [post_content] => Idaho is a deeply red state—one of the most conservative in the country. Yet Idahoans have a fierce independent streak and do not like being told what they can and cannot do. A group of activists has collected signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the state’s ballot this November. Voters should get to decide, they argue, rather than a small group of legislators in Boise. These activists are gambling that expansion will pass on a popular vote.

We recently chatted about Idaho’s ballot initiative with Daniel Nelson, one of the activist leaders. He told us the story of two friends, Luke Mayville and Garrett Stirizich, creating the Medicaid for Idaho campaign in March 2017. They saw a disconnect between voters and the legislature on Medicaid expansion. They purchased a 1977 camper van, painted it green, emblazoned it with the words “Medicaid for Idaho,” and drove off to learn the health care stories of Idahoans across the state. Nine months later, they were convinced there could be enough momentum for expansion and they began the daunting task of collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

Nelson is a medical student at the University of Michigan who is taking a break to do a master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. On election night in 2017 he was intrigued by Maine’s public referendum to expand Medicaid and excited to hear reporters say that a team in his home state of Idaho was working to do the same there. He immediately reached out to Mayville and Stirizich’s Medicaid campaign, looking for a way to get involved. He was later brought on as a policy advisor.
They purchased a 1977 camper van, painted it green, emblazoned it with the words “Medicaid for Idaho,” and drove off to learn the health care stories of Idahoans across the state.  
“Being someone who cares passionately about his home state, it has been pretty exciting to be able to see our state moving towards something that I think will benefit every Idahoan, and I think that’s been extraordinarily rewarding,” Nelson says. “It has been amazing to hear stories from people who have been caught in the Medicaid gap and who have felt helpless realize that Medicaid expansion is the way out of that. One woman told me the story of her sister. She was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2015 and within weeks she died. Because Idaho hadn’t expanded Medicaid, her family had no idea how she was going to afford end-of-life care. Imagine trying to grieve over your sister, but instead you’re worrying whether your family can pay for treatment. That’s not a situation anyone should have to be in.” Should Idaho expand Medicaid, approximately 62,000 more Idahoans will have insurance, which Nelson says is “A great number off the bat, but this [initiative] provides risk protection that everyone in the state can enjoy. Everybody in Idaho who faces the risk of losing their job benefits from knowing that should that happen, they don’t have to worry about where they’re going to get their health insurance. Currently, that’s just not the case – people have to worry that they’re going to fall into the gap.” While expansion’s impact could be great, there is a long journey ahead, as a November vote is not necessarily the end of the line for this initiative. Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, has vetoed Medicaid expansion legislation six times and has refused to acknowledge the public referendum vote of 2017, despite a federal court order. However, Nelson is optimistic that the same thing will not happen in Idaho. Current governor Butch Otter is not running for re-election and both of the leading candidates have announced that they will uphold November’s vote, regardless of whether or not they support expansion. Even if the initiative passes and the new governor stays out of the way, the legislature could still intervene. “Come January, when the legislature is back in session, it’s possible that they could overrule the Medicaid expansion, could tamper with the law in whatever way they see fit, or add on additional requirements,” Nelson explains. “If we are able to show sufficient support for Medicaid expansion at the ballot box, it will be a huge political risk for the legislature to oppose it strongly.” Although polls show that 61% of the state is in support of the initiative, “there is still a lot of feeling in the state that people would rather not have the government involved in health care,” Nelson explained. Additionally, the legislature is arguably more conservative than the population, given the rules around the primary and who turns out to vote. Regardless, the campaign remains optimistic. Whatever happens, it is clear that the ballot initiative process has allowed Idahoans to share their health coverage stories. Voters in Nebraska and Utah will have the same choice about Medicaid expansion in November. Expansion in these three conservative states would provide a fascinating counter-narrative to Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It could also serve as a tipping point in the remaining 14 states that have not expanded Mediciaid and help the nearly two million people gain health insurance. Quotes have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. Photo by Luke Mayville. [post_title] => Medicaid for Idaho? [post_excerpt] => A group of activists has collected signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the Idaho ballot this November. Idaho is a deeply red state, but they hope expansion will pass on a popular vote. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => medicaid-for-idaho [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-24 14:34:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-24 18:34:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=5331 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

A group of activists has collected signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the Idaho ballot this November. Idaho is a deeply red state, but they hope expansion will pass on a popular vote.

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News

Measuring Social Recovery in Burn Survivors

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                    [post_content] => Treatment for burn injuries has improved over the past few decades, allowing more burn survivors to thrive. In addition to physical changes, burn survivors encounter changes in their social lives. The physical and emotional trauma of the injury may shape interactions with loved ones or strangers, at work or in the community. The social component of burn recovery is of great interest to clinicians and public health researchers. But the research community has not developed tools to describe, measure, and track changes in relationships or more general social comfort and acceptance.

To fill this gap in the “toolkit” for supporting burn survivors, our team has developed the Life Impact Burn Recovery Evaluation (LIBRE) Profile. This project is a collaboration between burn survivor advocates, researchers, and clinicians at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors; the Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System (BH BIMS), a program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital; and Boston University School of Public Health. The LIBRE Profile tracks burn recovery and social participation with the goal of improving rehabilitation efforts and identifying areas where additional support is needed.

Two women, one with a burn injury on her face and arm, smiling with their arm around one another

Amy Acton, President of the Phoenix Society, has described the LIBRE Profile as a self-assessment tool that “asks questions in areas of our life that we may have challenges with when we return to our community.” It includes questions in six domains that burn survivors, clinicians, and medical support team members identified as important: 1) relationships with family and friends, 2) social activities, 3) social interactions, 4) work and employment, 5) romantic relationships, and 6) sexual relationships.

“This would have been an amazing questionnaire had I been able to do it closer to my burn injury,’” says Karen Collagen describing taking the LIBRE Profile in a video about the project. “I would be able to see the shift…between where I was and where I am. And that would mean that it would give me more hope.”  The LIBRE Profile offers an entry point to a conversation between a burn survivor and his or her care team about that individual’s strengths and needs. It also opens up opportunities to assess community needs, connect survivors with appropriate resources, or evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention such as a support group.

Man and a woman with a burn injury embracing

The LIBRE Profile is delivered as a computerized adaptive test (CAT), similar to the technology used for educational tests like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), with 126 questions organized by difficulty. Based on the burn survivor’s response, the computer chooses the next question that will provide the most information about that person’s abilities. If someone answers positively, the next question will increase in difficulty and vice versa. The computer can calculate a score after asking 5-10 questions per domain. It is possible to get a precise score without requiring someone to answer the full list of questions.

Burn survivors and clinical experts shaped domain content, wording of questions, and plans for releasing the final tool. Burn survivors and clinicians from around the country have given critical input to make the tool relevant and usable. The LIBRE Profile will move to wider use over the next year. For example, the Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System recently began a project to track burn survivors’ LIBRE Profile scores over time.

Acknowledgement

The web-based platform for the LIBRE Profile CAT was developed by the BU Software & Application Innovation Lab (SAIL) at the Hariri Institute for Computing. For updates, visit the team’s website or connect on Facebook or Twitter. The LIBRE Profile is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Images courtesy of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.
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The social component of burn recovery is of great interest to clinicians and public health researchers. The LIBRE Profile tracks burn recovery and social participation with the goal of improving rehabilitation efforts and identifying areas where additional support is needed.

...more
News

Chelsea Police Create a Culture of Health

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                    [post_content] => Take a sharp right onto Fourth Street off of Boston’s Tobin Bridge going north, and you’ll immediately find yourself in Chelsea, sandwiched between a tight row of houses. If you drive up a few streets to Broadway you’ll soon see people crowding the sidewalks, and a police car parked in front of City Hall.

For Boston locals, Chelsea does not have the best reputation. Known for a high population of residents with substance use disorder, Chelsea has not been looked to as a model of public health by other cities. But the Chelsea Hub, a collaboration between the police department and public safety, health, and social services is changing that. Chelsea’s old reputation “is not today’s reality,” said City Manager, Thomas Ambrosino.

Chelsea was one of eight U.S. communities to win a $25,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize in 2017. According to Ambrosino, “we wowed them with the level of collaboration” within the city. Chelsea’s Hub, based on a Canadian model, facilitates that collaboration.

Daniel Cortez, Community Engagement Specialist at the Chelsea Police Department, oversees the Hub’s weekly meetings. “I play the role of cheerleader sometimes,” said Cortez. Each Thursday morning, he and fifteen or so colleagues (police officers, child protective services and city code enforcement agents, social workers, substance-use counselors and recovery coaches, and medical center staff), gather around a table at the Chelsea Police Department and talk about individuals who need access to their services.

While each of these services existed before the Hub came to Chelsea in 2015, they didn’t collaborate as much in the past. “The community came to together, all service providers,” said Jason Owens, a community liaison with Roca Inc., a Chelsea-based organization that helps young men and women at risk of incarceration get back to school or work. “There are no more silos in our community so we can better serve our city."
The Chelsea Hub provides a way for people from different agencies to meet each other and learn about new ways to deliver services and serve the community efficiently, according to Cortez.  
The Hub provides a way for people from different agencies to meet each other and learn about new ways to deliver services and serve the community efficiently, according to Cortez. “We’re able to mobilize and deliver services faster than ever before,” he said. For law enforcement, the Hub means a new approach to public safety. Before their close relationship with social services took shape, the police would respond to the same houses and the same people repeatedly. They would address the immediate crime, but the root of the issue remained. Now, “they know there’s a place someone can be referred to,” said Cortez. “I think the police feel like they have more tools in their toolbox.” Because the program is so new, Chelsea only has anecdotal reports of success. But police departments in Canada using this method have reported that 79% of their interventions reach closure in two weeks or less. In one district, an evaluation found a significant drop in violent and property crime rates. In addition to the Hub, Chelsea’s police offer addiction services and youth community outreach programs. “Our police department does a good job of engendering trust in the community,” said Ambrosino. Their addiction recovery initiative, based on the Gloucester Police Department’s ANGEL program, aims to prevent overdoses and encourage utilization of treatment services. The department also hosts a youth athletic league, summer internships for high school students, a community criminal justice class for high school students, and a youth police initiative that allows teenagers and officers to build positive relationships. Walking down Broadway, jostling shoulders with people on the sidewalks, you can see the Tobin Bridge in the distance. This structure connecting Boston and Chelsea looms over the smaller city. Yet despite its size, the city of Chelsea has given its residents resources comparable to its larger neighbor, making collaboration between governmental service providers central to enriching the public health of the community. Photo: Jacqueline Rocheleau [post_title] => Chelsea Police Create a Culture of Health [post_excerpt] => The Chelsea Hub is a collaboration between police and social services to promote public health in the city. Chelsea won a $25,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize in 2017. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => chelsea-police-create-a-culture-of-health [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-07 08:19:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-07 12:19:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=4237 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

The Chelsea Hub is a collaboration between police and social services to promote public health in the city. Chelsea won a $25,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize in 2017.

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News

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Center Stage at SCOTUS

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                    [post_content] => The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) is challenging the California Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 20, 2018, SCOTUS heard oral arguments in the NIFLA v. Becerra case.

What is the Reproductive FACT Act?

The Reproductive FACT Act was signed into law in California by Governor Jerry Brown on October 9, 2015. The law requires licensed medical facilities to post a notice stating that California has public programs where low-income women can access free or inexpensive family planning services, including abortion. It also requires unlicensed facilities, such as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), to post a notice stating that they are not a licensed medical facility. The notice that the licensed facilities must post states:

“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”

The notice that unlicensed facilities must post states:

“This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”

What are crisis pregnancy centers?

The mission of CPCs is to dissuade women from having abortions. These unlicensed facilities are often mistaken for medical clinics. Generally, though, there are no licensed medical staff present. CPCs are often located near licensed reproductive health clinics to confuse women seeking abortions and other family planning services. They use a variety of tactics to achieve this goal, including providing false information about the risks of abortion. Women are often told that having an abortion can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer or infertility, contrary to scientific evidence.

NIFLA’s Argument

NIFLA argued that the requirement to post the notices above violates the right to free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. Michael P. Farris, representing NIFLA, said, “California took aim at pro-life pregnancy centers by compelling licensed centers to point the way to an abortion and imposing onerous advertising rules on unlicensed centers that do not provide ultrasounds or any other medical services.” When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked if it would also be unconstitutional to require abortion providers to tell patients that services were available if they chose to carry their pregnancies to term, Farris argued that it would not. He cited the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey ruling upholding most of Pennsylvania’s informed consent and waiting period requirements. He also cited Harris v. McRae, saying that the decisions in these cases “indicated that the state has an additional interest beyond the health of the woman in the interest of advancing the life of the unborn child, to a degree.” Farris also argued that the California statute targets pro-life pregnancy centers. He reasoned that the law is limited to primarily nonprofit community clinics, excluding private practices. He stated that “clinics that are in general practice” are exempt from this requirement, as well as clinics that sign up for the California Family PACT program. Based on these exemptions, Farris argued that the only facilities targeted are pro-life pregnancy centers.

Becerra’s Argument

Joshua A. Klein, representing the respondents, also cited Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in his argument, stating that the notices ensure patients are fully informed about their choices. He also argued that the law “empowers the woman by explaining that her financial circumstance does not make her unable to access alternative and supplemental care.” When asked about the NIFLA claim that the statute targets crisis pregnancy centers, Klein said, “Your Honor, the disclosure is targeted at women who seek free care for pregnancy, not at any particular viewpoint.” Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. challenged Klein on the numerous exempted facilities, such as private practices and clinics in the California Family PACT program. Klein responded that the state was trying to apply the speech requirements narrowly, something, he said, the Court has argued for in the past. Klein also argued that the law targets nonprofit clinics because they typically see women in need of low-cost or free pregnancy services. He stated that California Family PACT providers are exempt from posting the notice because they receive incentives to help women enroll in state healthcare programs. Finally, Klein cited Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel in his argument. The decision in Zauderer states that requiring the dissemination of factual information is constitutional as long as it meets two conditions: 1) it is not “unduly burdensome”, and 2) it is “reasonably related to the State’s interest in preventing deception of consumers.”

When will we know the Court’s decision?

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in June 2018. Feature image: Phil Roeder, Supreme Court of the United State, used under CC BY 2.0 [post_title] => Crisis Pregnancy Centers Center Stage at SCOTUS [post_excerpt] => NIFLA v. Becerra, currently before the Supreme Court, is a challenge to California's Reproductive FACT Act, which requires unlicensed facilities such as crisis pregnancy centers to post a notice stating that they are not a licensed medical facility. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => crisis-pregnancy-centers-center-stage-at-scotus [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-23 06:58:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-23 10:58:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=4189 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

NIFLA v. Becerra, currently before the Supreme Court, is a challenge to California’s Reproductive FACT Act, which requires unlicensed facilities such as crisis pregnancy centers to post a notice stating that they are not a licensed medical facility.

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News

New Crew 2018

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                    [post_content] => We are beginning 2018 with a new Associate Editor, Dr. Jennifer Beard, three new writing Fellows, Sampada Nandyala, Chrissy Packtor, and Erin Polka (introduced below), and with continuing gratitude to our growing number of readers. It’s an honor to start this second year of publication, posting a new piece of Public Health every day with a weekly wrap-up on Fridays, at a moment when the U.S. has seen two consecutive years of declining life expectancy and our nation’s health is increasingly endangered. We plan to expand our stories, research, viewpoints, interviews, and databytes in ways that surprise you and keep your attention on the important ideas and solutions that can make us all healthier.  —Michael Stein, MD, Executive Editor

I am delighted to be joining the Public Health Post team in the role of associate editor because I believe passionately in our mission to provide a forum for stimulating, evidence-based conversations about topics critical to the health of all. PHP’s guiding metaphor has been an ongoing dinner party featuring fascinating guests and whip-smart graduate students talking about everything under the public health sun: from safe injection facilities to self-care when reporting difficult stories, preventing sexually transmitted infections in Detroit, and health care professionals who participate in torture. A key theme running through this conversation is how we translate and communicate the science and ethos of public health into policy and practice. What background knowledge should we assume our audience to have? What words do we use? How do we define those words? And what, for that matter, do we mean by “public health.”

These are questions I am eager to debate during our editorial meetings and in the articles we publish in 2018. I come to PHP as a faculty member in a Department of Global Health by way (a long time ago) of a PhD program in English literature followed several years later by a master’s degree in public health. I’ve been teaching writing in one form or another since 1991 and doing my best to train public health students to write clear, succinct, arguments grounded in evidence for over a decade. I find the topic of how we talk about what we do with one another and the rest of the world to be endlessly fascinating and critically important. Over the next year, I plan to explore these topics and encourage our readers to contribute your thoughts on public health language, communication, writing, etc. Are you interested in the language of public health and the ways in which we communicate? Please share your ideas with me at jenbeard@bu.edu.

I will kick off the conversation tomorrow, by returning to a question David Jones posed in our first week of publication with some thoughts on the definition of “public health. —Jen Beard, Associate Editor

Public Health Post Fellows 2018

Sampada Nandyala is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying epidemiology and infectious diseases. She received her BS in public health with a certificate in Public Health Management from Rutgers University’s Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She was a Scientific Strategy Intern at the healthcare marketing agency McCann Echo, Public Policy Intern at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, and Sustainability and Community Development Intern at Greener by Design. She wrote weekly articles as an intern for College Fashionista for two years. Chrissy Packtor is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying health communication & promotion and sex, sexuality, and gender. She received her BS in biology and psychology from West Virginia University with a minor in women’s and gender studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude with University Honors.  She was the Outreach and Communications intern for West Virginia Focus: Reproductive Education and Equality (WV FREE), Public Affairs Intern for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and the President and Social Media Chair of WVU Students for Reproductive Justice. Erin Polka is an MPH candidate at BUSPH studying biostatistics and epidemiology. She received her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She works as a research assistant at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and was an an Agricultural Extension Officer for the Peace Corps in Tanzania where she worked alongside community members on grassroots agricultural and health projects. She received a grant from the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief and is fluent in Swahili. Feature image: left to right: Chrissy Packtor, Erin Polka, Michael Stein, Sampada Nandyala, Jen Beard. Photo: Michael Saunders.  [post_title] => New Crew 2018 [post_excerpt] => We're delighted to welcome our new cohort of PHP fellows: Sampada Nandyala, Chrissy Packtor, and Erin Polka! Executive Editor Michael Stein and Associate Editor Jennifer Beard also join the PHP team. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => new-crew [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-06 18:53:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-06 23:53:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=3686 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

We’re delighted to welcome our new cohort of PHP fellows: Sampada Nandyala, Chrissy Packtor, and Erin Polka! Executive Editor Michael Stein and Associate Editor Jennifer Beard also join the PHP team.

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News

Success and Setbacks in Rural Health Systems

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                    [post_content] => Ripton, Vermont, a tiny town of 588 in Addison County, was described by Jessica Ravitz of CNN as “…the kind of place where cell service fails more often than it works…and the fog lifts to reveal a white horse grazing in a field." 2093 miles and 32 driving hours away is Ten Sleep, Wyoming, a tiny town of 260 located in the western foothills of the Big Horn Mountains.

Both towns are located in the most rural states in America: Vermont and Wyoming are ranked 49th and 50th respectively in terms of population and each state has only one representative in the U.S. House. The states have striking similarities on many fronts: per-capita income is nearly the same, the unemployment rate is 3.9% vs. 3.2%, and both states have a historic hunting pedigree.

But there is a striking difference between the two states in terms of the performance of their healthcare systems. The Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance ranks Vermont first in terms of overall performance, while Wyoming ranked a distant 25th. Vermont ranked first in access, defined by the uninsured rate, the number of people who went without care because of costs, and adults without a dental visit in the past year. Wyoming ranked 34th. (For more information on methodology, see the report’s methods section.)
One of the most important dynamics of the years since the ACA’s passage is that the states with the worst health system performance and worst health outcomes tended to be the staunchest opponents.  
Attention is shifting to states in the aftermath of the failed attempt by Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the most important dynamics of the years since the ACA’s passage is that the states with the worst health system performance and worst health outcomes tended to be the staunchest opponents. Research from The Commonwealth Fund shows that: “…states that accepted federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act outperformed states that did not expand Medicaid.” As Vermont expanded Medicaid and decreased the uninsured rate to 6%, Wyoming rejected Medicaid and has even seen its uninsured rate grow to 14%. The following figure shows three key ways that Medicaid expansion states have outperformed non-expansion states: Graph showing improvement in healthcare access in states that expanded Medicaid There is a lot more to health than insurance and access to care. Wyoming has a pretty high “healthy lives” ranking at 18th compared to Vermont at #5. But as the ACA remains the law of the land and opposition remains entrenched, there is a real risk that the disparity between high and low performing states will widen even further. Feature image: faungg's photos, The view along the Scenic Drive 287 in Wyoming, used under CC BY-ND 2.0  Graph by The Commonwealth Fund.   [post_title] => Success and Setbacks in Rural Health Systems [post_excerpt] => Vermont and Wyoming have similarities on many fronts, but there is a striking difference between the two states in terms of the performance of their healthcare systems. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => success-setbacks-rural-health-systems [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-10 07:00:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-10 11:00:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=2947 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Vermont and Wyoming have similarities on many fronts, but there is a striking difference between the two states in terms of the performance of their healthcare systems.

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News

New Budget, Old Problems: Public Health Challenges in Illinois

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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-20 07:00:21
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-20 11:00:21
                    [post_content] => Illinois had no state budget for more than two years, causing myriad public problems in one of the most populous states in the U.S. On July 6, 2017, the Illinois state legislature enacted a full budget with bipartisan support, over the veto of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. I highlighted some of the public health impacts of the Illinois budget crisis for Public Health Post in December 2016, including disastrous funding issues for local and state public health organizations and social service providers. While the new budget is a critical first step towards restoring vital public health programs and services, policymakers, service providers, and citizens face ongoing uncertainty and long-term repercussions across Illinois.

The budget passed in July 2017 is focused on re-establishing state funding in several key areas, accomplished largely through increases in personal and corporate income taxes. First and foremost, the budget helps Illinois begin to pay for both the ongoing costs of state functioning and the $15 billion in unpaid bills resulting from the two-year budget crisis. Achieving this basic level of financial functioning was also essential to Illinois’s recovery as it stabilized the state’s credit rating, which plummeted during the budget crisis but just barely avoided hitting “junk” status. This would have been an unprecedented and extensive financial problem for the state. Even with a budget in place, Illinois continues to face significant financial problems, including the yet-unresolved challenge of meeting its $130 billion obligation in pension liability, which in part prompted the budget crisis in 2015.

The continuing problem of the state’s pension debt and the ongoing negative impact of the state’s poor credit rating serve as present threats to the stability and reliability of all state funding and therefore are critical components of Illinois’s commitment to public health and well-being. The new budget allocates vital funds to health, education, and social service providers, but many institutions and agencies remain anxious about rebuilding programs and rehiring staff with the specter of the budget crisis so present. The new budget includes regular funding for suffering K-12 public education, decimated social service providers, and desperate public universities, many of which were facing the prospect of shutting their doors if money did not arrive this fall. However, this year’s funding does not resolve the challenges these organizations face in repairing the problems created over the last two years.
...Illinois’s most vulnerable students stand to suffer most from the budget crisis’s impact on public higher education, exacerbating disparities in higher education achievement along income, race, and socioeconomic lines.  
Public higher education is not the most direct influencer of public health in a state, but ample scientific evidence links more education with better health, and Illinois’s most vulnerable students stand to suffer most from the budget crisis’s impact on public higher education, exacerbating disparities in higher education achievement along income, race, and socioeconomic lines. The budget crisis delayed or eliminated critical grant and scholarship funding otherwise available to low-income and first-generation college students, and the new budget cuts prior public higher education funding by 10%. Financially vulnerable students, and first-time college students facing other barriers and alternatives to college attendance, may have been unable to begin, remain in, or continue full-time in college due to the budget crisis. Under the new budget, many of these students may still face financial barriers to college from reduced state funding, or they may question, with good reason, the state’s reliability as a funder of their educations. Further, universities (like Chicago State University) and community colleges (like that in Kankakee) dedicated to the education of students with fewer financial and network resources to attend other institutions felt the sting of the budget crisis particularly strongly, losing scores of faculty and staff, serving fewer students, and eliminated important supports like campus-based child care for students, none of which can be remedied quickly, even with a new budget in place.
Compared to those without, people with a college degree live longer, have lower rates of chronic illness, and experience risk factors like high stress and smoking at lower rates.  
All of these factors matter to public health because education is a clear social determinant of health. Compared to those without, people with a college degree live longer, have lower rates of chronic illness, and experience risk factors like high stress and smoking at lower rates. Research has gotten sophisticated enough to separate out direct impacts of education on health from correlations that might reflect common causes of both lower education and poorer health (like systemic racism, or childhood trauma). For instance, scholars at the National Bureau of Economic Research offer evidence that college education directly impacts mortality, particularly related to access to health insurance, health care, and opportunities to practice health-promoting behaviors among those with college degrees. In Illinois, the two-year budget impasse and the ongoing effects of the budget crisis on public higher education have disproportionately harmed those college students and potential college students who are already most vulnerable to poor health outcomes due to poverty and racism. Renewed public funding for K-12 schools and health, mental health, and social service agencies is essential to promoting public health in Illinois, but the state’s higher education institutions and the students who rely on them face continued challenges with clear negative consequences for individual and community health. Feature image: Tom Shockey, Springfield Illinois, used under CC BY 2.0 [post_title] => New Budget, Old Problems: Public Health Challenges in Illinois [post_excerpt] => The ongoing effects of the Illinois budget crisis, in particular on public higher education, have clear negative consequences for individual and community health. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => illinois-new-budget-old-problems [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-21 14:08:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-21 18:08:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_news&p=2964 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

The ongoing effects of the Illinois budget crisis, in particular on public higher education, have clear negative consequences for individual and community health.

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