In 1776, Abigail Adams asked her husband to “remember the ladies.”
Oh, if only Melania were so moved. Donald Trump could use the reminder. From the moment he announced his improbable campaign, Trump has played to his most conservative supporters by promising to severely restrict abortion rights, as well as limit access to affordable birth control. The battle has settled onto two fronts, including defunding Planned Parenthood, and—since a “repeal and replace effort” fell short—removing from the Affordable Care Act the mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives to their eligible workers. On the first front, Connecticut has vowed to fund Planned Parenthood, should the federal government pull away.
While we’ve been engrossed in the Republicans’ umpteenth attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration quietly has stopped funding 80-some teenage pregnancy prevention programs around the country, including a highly successful one in Hartford. The Trump administration has cut nearly $214 million in grants. Those grants were awarded under President Obama, and were supposed to have ended in 2020. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services let grantees know that the funds would end in 2018—two years earlier than promised. The cut was first reported by Reveal, a product of The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Adult children should talk with parents about health and end-of-life preferences long before these matters become urgent, experts in the field say. “If you can think early on about options, identify preferences, talk to people about what they would like done, you really tend to have more control over the process,” according to gerontologist Donna Fedus, founder of the Connecticut-based consulting company, Borrow My Glasses. More than a third of U.S. adults provide care for an older relative, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. As life expectancy increases and health care becomes increasingly complex, Fedus said, that role becomes more difficult.
Our podcast, sponsored by ConnectiCare, Donna Fedus, founder of Borrow My Glasses and Anne Elwell of Qualidigm, provide tips on ways to discuss care with an elder parent years before it is needed. Talking with parents about their health status, their medications and their doctors while health is relatively good can give children important information and make the transition to the adult child actively managing care less jarring, she said.
Last May, Samantha Collins’ drug use, legal problems and dealings with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families forced her to strike a bargain with the agency. In return for allowing social workers to come into her home three times a week to help her stay off drugs, improve her parenting and learn the practical skills needed to function as an adult, DCF would not remove her children. The 26-year-old Somers mother of 2- and 7-year-old boys entered Family-Based Recovery, a program created 10 years ago by DCF, the agency better known, perhaps, for separating families than working to keep them together. Family-Based Recovery, or FBR, is an example of DCF’s dramatic reversal in philosophy and practices, after years of a policy approach based largely on removing children thought to be at risk and placing them in congregate care facilities. “‘Pull and ask later,’” said Kristina Stevens, a former DCF social worker who is now administrator of the agency’s Clinical and Community Consultation and Support Division, which includes a fast-growing array of in-home treatment programs.
As recently as 2011, nearly 1,500 children and youths were separated from their families and were living in 54 group homes and other treatment centers in and out of Connecticut.
Last fall, Sharon Boland was worried she’d never lose the extra 70 pounds she was carrying. At age 54, everyone told her, it would be nearly impossible to slim down. “I’ve probably carried weight most of my life,” said Boland, a business lawyer who lives in Greenwich, but she had gained an extra 25-30 pounds in the previous few years. Her friends were right: It is undeniably harder to lose weight after about age 50. Eating and exercise habits that worked fine during the 30s and 40s can quickly lead to extra pounds and paunches a decade or two later.
If you are an American woman, be afraid of the Trump administration’s latest attempts to repeal Obamacare. If you are an American woman living in poverty, be very afraid. Connecticut has taken note. During the legislative session that just ended, the Connecticut Senate unanimously voted to protect 21 health benefits (such as contraceptives and mammograms) that Trumpcare would obliterate. Sadly, that bill died in the House.
A genetic test that helps doctors determine how best to treat breast cancer—and whether chemotherapy is likely to help—is significantly more likely to be administered to white women than blacks or Hispanics, a Yale study has found. The test, called Oncotype Dx (ODx), uses gene expression to gauge how early-stage breast cancer is affecting patients’ gene activity. It uses the information to determine how likely cancer recurrence would be, and physicians and their patients can use that knowledge to decide how to proceed with treatment. Yale researchers retrospectively analyzed a group of more than 8,000 Connecticut women who were diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer between 2011 and 2013, and found “significant racial and ethnic disparities in use of this new gene test,” said study leader Dr. Cary Gross, a member of Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. “It reinforces that, at the same time we are investing in developing new treatments and new testing strategies and we’re promoting them with great excitement, we really need to double-down our efforts to eliminate disparity,” Gross said.
In the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” Grace, a 70-something businesswoman played by Jane Fonda, is often shown knocking back drinks. In fact, a wine glass is as much a part of the character’s wardrobe as are tailored pants and jaunty neck scarves. For a time, a California wine company sold “MommyJuice,” and last month, Fox News shared a story with the headline “7 Signs You’re Hitting the Mommy Juice Too Hard.”
Who knew womanhood was a condition in need of alcohol—lots of it. Ironically, when people talk about binge drinking, the conversation most often turns to college students—or to young men. But there’s a large group of people who are excessively drinking under the radar: the grandmothers of those college students.
Low-income women in Connecticut who have just given birth and know they don’t want to get pregnant again anytime soon are now offered a long-acting birth control option postpartum. Medical providers say the policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, as well as lead to better maternal health outcomes by ensuring pregnancies are spaced a healthy length of time apart. Connecticut’s HUSKY program is one of 26 state Medicaid programs nationwide that reimburses hospitals for administering long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—namely, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants—to Medicaid patients. HUSKY started reimbursing for the devices last year. “It’s a great thing,” said Dr. Elizabeth Purcell, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Hartford.
Stephanie Almada’s journey to opioid addiction began with a prescription to relieve her premenstrual symptoms and accelerated after she had a cesarean section. “The pain pills came, you know, very quickly and I had bottles at home anyway,” she said. “And then it became energy for me. It became the way I coped with life.” Today Almada, 44, is a peer recovery specialist at Wheeler Clinic in Plainville, where she helps women get off opioids. Americans are using opioids at record rates.