May 23, 2016

Health Conference To Focus On Veterans, Aging And LGBT Issues

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Health risks challenging veterans, particularly those who have recently returned home from combat, is one of the topics of an upcoming conference for consumers and health care providers.

The conference, “Better Health: It’s Your Health, Take Charge,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. CT Partners for Health, a coalition of dozens of stakeholders working to help consumers better understand health care, is organizing the event.

Conference breakout sessions will address a wide range of topics, including caring for veterans. That discussion will focus on the health-related challenges veterans face after they return from combat zones.

“We have this huge opioid crisis” among veterans, says Dr. Lucile Burgo-Black, associate primary care director at the Veterans Health Administration and assistant clinical professor at Yale University.

Dr. Lucile Burgo-Black of the West Haven VA.

Dr. Lucile Burgo-Black of the West Haven VA.

Burgo-Black, who is scheduled to speak at the conference, has a national role within the Veterans Health Administration and is based at VA Connecticut Healthcare in West Haven. She plans to update attendees about work the VA is doing to help manage prescription opioid use by veterans.

Studies have shown that veterans, who often suffer from chronic pain related to their military service, are more likely than the general population to use and overdose on opioids. In the wake of that trend, the VA has made an effort in recent years to scale back the number of opioid prescriptions issued by its physicians.

Burgo-Black also plans to update conference attendees on the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, commonly known as the Choice Act. The federal law lets veterans who are unable to schedule a VA appointment within 30 days of their preferred date or a “clinically appropriate date” to receive care from eligible non-VA health care providers.

Wait times to see VA doctors have come under national scrutiny in recent years, as some veterans have had to wait months to secure medical appointments.

Burgo-Black and co-presenter Erin Blatchley, the VA’s West Haven program manager for returning combat vets, also will discuss other obstacles veterans face, such as musculoskeletal pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

The daylong “Better Health” conference is geared toward consumers and health care providers alike, said Anne Elwell, president of CT Partners for Health’s board of directors. Elwell also is principal and vice president of community relations at Qualidigm. The Wethersfield-based national health care consulting and research firm is the founding member of CT Partners for Health.

Conference sessions also will focus on planning for aging, health insurance, LGBT issues in health care and addressing the Alzheimer’s crisis, among others.

“We are really trying to target a broad base of consumers,” Elwell said. “We’re also targeting providers from across the care continuum.”

Organizers expect about 1,000 people to attend the event, the partnership’s third annual conference. General admission is $25; $10 for students as well as seniors age 60 and older. The registration deadline is Tuesday, May 31, although walk-ins will be accepted.

HealthyCT, Connecticut’s health insurance co-operative, is the event’s lead sponsor.

In addition to the breakout sessions, there will be several keynote speakers: Laurel Pickering, president and CEO of Northeast Business Group on Health; Diane Smith, president of Diane Smith Media; D’Mario Sowah, founder and master trainer at Akua Ba Fitness; and Gina Barreca, Hartford Courant columnist and author of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”

A resource fair showcasing about 20 exhibitors will offer conference attendees the opportunity to have their blood pressure taken, ask pharmacists questions about medications, get information on nutrition, and more, Elwell said.

For more information, or to register, visit ctpartnersforhealth.org.

C-HIT is an event media partner.

 

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