Slowly—but perhaps surely—the country is beginning to address maternal mortality, both through legislation and through initiatives on the part of health care providers. This is critical. We have lost countless women to pregnancy and childbirth, and the majority of those deaths didn’t have to happen. This holds true especially for mothers of color. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are about three times as likely to die from pregnancy as white women, according to a study released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bit by bit, regulation by regulation, the Trump administration – followed by a notable list of states — has been shrinking women’s access to birth control and abortion services. From packing the courts with anti-choice judges to repeated (failed) attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, the White House has done its best to push reproductive freedom off the table. So, when a Connecticut hospital and two neighborhood health centers announced plans to collaborate and become the New Haven Primary Care Consortium, the conversation quickly turned to women’s reproductive health—as it should. Yale New Haven Hospital and two local federally qualified health centers proposed to merge services recently, with the clinics that serve adults, women’s reproductive needs and children moving to 150 Sargent Drive (Long Wharf). This is a big deal for the state’s health care landscape.
A black patient hospitalized for chest pain in Connecticut is 20 percent more likely than a white patient to be readmitted within 30 days after discharge. Similarly, a Hispanic patient hospitalized for heart failure is 30 percent more likely to land back in the hospital within a month. Those disparities in two of the most common reasons for hospitalizations among state residents point to larger problems in access to care, underlying health status and insurance coverage, according to a study published today in Connecticut Medicine, the journal of the Connecticut State Medical Society. The society is hosting a forum today to discuss ways to reduce disparities in readmissions of patients with heart failure, chest pain and three other conditions: joint replacement surgery, digestive disorders and uncomplicated childbirth. “We’re seeing large disparities in readmissions for a number of conditions,” said Robert Aseltine, the study’s lead author and professor of behavioral science and community health at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
When Ulysses B. Hammond was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his first thought was that he could wait to deal with it. After all, the doctor said it would spread slowly. That reaction is typical for men – especially African Americans like Hammond — and it plays a role in explaining why they have the highest cancer death rate in the United States and in Connecticut. “It’s not deemed very macho to actually admit or discuss physical frailties,” said Hammond, chair of the board at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London. The death rate for African American men and women nationally – 207.7 per 100,000 people – is more than 20 percent higher than the rate for whites, according to 2009 data, the latest from the National Cancer Institute.