Pandemic Fuels Continued Rise In STDs Among Youngest Sexually Active Adolescents

The fallout from the pandemic has run the gamut from an unstable economy to an uptick in social-emotional problems. Experts suggest the pandemic may also be responsible for a continued upward trajectory in sexually transmitted diseases among Connecticut’s youngest sexually active residents. Conditions during the pandemic, including less access to sexual health care and more free time, have helped to exacerbate the trend among young people, say health care providers. “Most parents are working. Students are home alone. They are having friends over,” said Ceri Burke, a nurse practitioner at Danbury High School’s on-site health center.

Physicians’ Biases, Lack Of Knowledge Are Partly To Blame For Health Care Disparities Among People With Disabilities

Jennifer Lortie is accustomed to facing obstacles to health care. The 37-year-old assistive technology specialist for United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern Connecticut has cerebral palsy. As she describes it, her condition, which resulted in quadriplegia, means “pretty decent use of my left arm, very limited [use] of right arm, and no use of my legs.”

Lortie has worn glasses since she was a young girl; when she was smaller, her father would carry her up the steps of the eye doctor’s office, which wasn’t handicap accessible. When that became unfeasible, she had to find another eye doctor. People with disabilities have long experienced inadequate access to health care.

School-Based Health Centers Remain Vital Resource During Pandemic 

Thirteen-year-old Estrella Roman and her mother have made the 30-minute walk to Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury several times during the pandemic, even when the school has been closed for in-person learning. That’s because the school’s on-site health center is where Estrella, who emigrated with her family from Ecuador in 2019, receives routine vaccinations, wellness care, and treatment for headaches, among other health services. Estrella’s mother, Katherine, who doesn’t speak English, said through Estrella that she’s “very grateful” for the teachers who told her that Estrella could still receive care there even when schools were closed. She praised the school nurse as patient and Spanish-speaking and said she would not have known where to seek care if not for the school-based health center. During their three decades in operation, Connecticut’s school-based health centers – defined by the state as fully-licensed primary care facilities — have become a critical health care delivery option, especially for children who have limited access to regular medical care.

Efforts To Reduce COVID-19’s Spread Could Impact Health Outcomes For New Mothers And Infants

Felicia Tambascio’s first pregnancy was going fairly smoothly. But on July 20, at week 38, the 20-year-old Brookfield resident woke with horrible upper abdominal cramps, a searing headache, and vomiting. Her boyfriend took her to the hospital, but Tambascio was left to wait in a hallway alone. Per COVID-19 restrictions, no visitors were allowed unless the patient was admitted to labor and delivery. After it was discovered that Tambascio was suffering from the life-threatening condition preeclampsia, she was escorted to the labor and delivery ward and induced.

Addiction Programs Adapt To Meet Challenges of Pandemic And A Rising Need

Earlier this year, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) examination of death certificates in the U.S. showed a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths between 1999 and 2017. Connecticut mirrored those numbers, and addiction organizations stepped up their efforts to reach those in need. Then came the pandemic. Treatment centers, support groups and the state were suddenly ordered to shut down. “We like to say the opposite of addiction is connection,” said Thomas Russo, spokesman for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

Most OB-GYN Practices Fall Short In Caring For Women With Disabilities

Over the past 20 years, Connecticut women with cognitive or physical disabilities have found their way to the Gaylord Specialty Healthcare’s Gynecological Clinic for Women with Disabilities in Wallingford. There, obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) Anna Tirado provides routine and preventive gynecological care to disabled women. Now nearing retirement age, Tirado isn’t sure what will happen when she no longer sees patients. “I am very worried. The patients are not going to be easily absorbed into a private practice,” she said.

Menopause’s Long Learning Curve

Every day an estimated 6,000 women in the U.S. reach menopause, a natural part of aging. But for countless women, it feels like anything but. The symptoms, which range from merely bothersome to debilitating, are triggered by the body’s loss of estrogen, which occurs at a median age of 50 to 52 among women in industrialized countries. Vasomotor symptoms alone (hot flashes, night sweats), which disrupt sleep and count as the most commonly reported complaint, last an average of 10 years and affect nearly 90 percent of menopausal women. A recent study published in the journal Menopause found that 250,000 women who suffered from hot flashes lost a cumulative $300 million per year in wages due to lost productivity and doctor visits, compared to asymptomatic women.

Shifting Social Attitudes, Stagnant Budgets Fuel Dramatic Rise In STDs

Despite the best efforts of health departments across the state, the number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continues to rise dramatically, mirroring a national trend. According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. experienced steep, sustained increases in STDs between 2013 and 2017. In Connecticut, reported cases of syphilis rose 51 percent during the four-year period, while gonorrhea jumped 25 percent and chlamydia rose 27 percent. According to the CDC’s ranking of all 50 states, Connecticut was 27th for reports of chlamydia, 4oth for gonorrhea, and 45th for syphilis. Health officials acknowledge that the rise in reported STDs cases is partially due to better testing and tracking.

Midwives Could Be Key To Reversing Maternal Mortality Trends

The Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center in Danbury is a 50-minute drive from Evelyn DeGraf’s home in Westchester. Pregnant with her second child, the 37-year-old didn’t hesitate to make the drive—she wanted her birth to be attended by a midwife, not a doctor. DeGraf believed midwifery care to be more personal and less rushed than that delivered by obstetrics/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). She also knew an OB/GYN would deem her relatively advanced maternal age and previous cesarean section history too high-risk to attempt a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean section. But she had to drive roughly 35 miles to find a midwife because there aren’t many of them.