At the corner of Shelton Avenue and Hazel Street in Newhallville sits a green space, the Learning Corridor—a hub for educating young children and connecting families to healthy living. The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail runs through the garden, where children can stop by and browse books from a box and adults can take a spin on a bike. Once known in the neighborhood as the “mud hole,” a crime spot for “drug trafficking and all kinds of stuff,” the Learning Corridor is now a place where neighborhood residents gather to take care of their health and well-being, said Doreen Abubakar, founder and volunteer director of the Community Placemaking and Engagement Network (CPEN). “We held a six-month in-house training about diabetes,” Abubakar said. “My sister who had diabetes brought down her blood sugar to pre-diabetic levels after she did the training.” The participants learned the importance of exercise to manage their diabetes, and residents joined the national walking club movement Girl Trek.
Advances in early detection and cancer treatments have resulted in a 27 percent decline in cancer deaths in the U.S. in the last 25 years, but those benefits are slow to trickle down to those who are lower on the socioeconomic scale, according to a report by the American Cancer Society. In the nation’s poorest counties, the cancer mortality rate is 20 percent higher than in the most affluent counties, and “the difference is much larger for cancers that are the most preventable: cervical, colorectal and lung,” said Rebecca Siegel, strategic director of Surveillance Information Services at the American Cancer Society and an author of the study. Robert Ciemniewski, 57, a longtime smoker from Connecticut, was on the wrong side of the statistical divide when he walked into the emergency room in 2017 with breathing difficulties from what he thought was pneumonia. He did have pneumonia, but he also had advanced lung cancer. Ciemniewski had not had a health checkup since 2013, when he quit his job as a mailman to care for his ailing mother.
For the roughly 9 percent of Connecticut’s population who live with diabetes, eating healthy and knowing how foods can affect the disease is crucial to managing it. The Conn. Health I-Team, (www.c-hit.org) in collaboration with ConnectiCare and the Hispanic Health Council, is hosting a public forum featuring a sampling of healthy food choices on Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Lyceum in Hartford, where experts will discuss the latest developments in diabetes treatments and offer advice about how adopting a healthy lifestyle can help combat the disease. The free event, “Recipes for Healthy Living: Defeating Diabetes,” will include a social hour, cooking demonstration and food tasting starting at 5 p.m. Billings Forge Executive Chef Becky Stevens-McGuigan will present her picks for good food choices, including grilled chicken skewers with salsa verde, watermelon and feta skewers, roasted sweet potato salad and a roasted cauliflower salad.
Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than whites to get flu vaccines, have a preventive health care visit, or receive follow-up care after being hospitalized for a mental health disorder, according to a first-of-its kind federal report that looks at health disparities among people on Medicare Advantage plans. “While these data do not tell us why differences exist, they show where we have problems and can help spur efforts to understand what can be done to reduce or eliminate these differences, ” said Dr. Cara James, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health, which released the report. The report looks at 27 clinical care measures and eight patient experiences to gauge differences in treatment among whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians or Pacific Islanders. It has some bright spots: Blacks and Hispanics reported slightly better communication with doctors than whites did. Hispanics had higher rates than non-Hispanic whites of colorectal screenings, blood sugar testing for diabetes, and treatment for osteoporosis (among women) after a fracture.
For those living with diabetes, eating healthy and knowing how foods affect blood sugar levels is crucial to managing the disease. The Conn. Health I-Team, (www.c-hit.org) in collaboration with ConnectiCare and the Hispanic Health Council, is hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, April 7, in Hartford, where experts will discuss the latest developments in early screening and treatment of diabetes and offer advice about how adopting a healthy lifestyle can help combat the disease. The free event, called “Beating Diabetes: Food, Fitness and Focus,” will include a social hour and food tasting starting at 5 p.m. featuring famed local chef Jay Lewis, who will present healthy foods choices. Lewis, who was nominated as “best chef” in the state in 2012 by Hartford Magazine, has been a sous chef, as well as the banquet chef for the Goodwin Hotel.
Connecticut’s diabetes rate ranks lower than the national average, but Hispanics and African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have the disease compared with their white neighbors and are at greater risk of dying from diabetes-related causes. Approximately 250,000 Connecticut adults (8 percent) have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and an estimated 83,000 state residents don’t realize they have the disease, according to 2011-13 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nationally, 29.1 million people (9.3 percent) have diabetes and 8.1 million people don’t know they have the disease, reports the CDC. Connecticut’s Hispanics (14.6 percent) and African-Americans (14.1 percent) have significantly higher rates of diabetes than whites (6.7 percent). In addition, adults with annual household incomes below $25,000 are 2.3 times more likely to have diagnosed diabetes compared with adults with household incomes over $75,000, according to the CDC.
Cheila Serrano knows educating Hispanics who are uninsured and underinsured about the new options available at Access Health CT – the health insurance marketplace that opens for business today – presents a unique set of problems.
But with one in every four Hispanics lacking coverage, Serrano, a program director at Junta for Progressive Action in New Haven, is up for the challenge. Connecticut’s Hispanics represent the fastest-growing, youngest and poorest segment of the state’s population. Estimates of Connecticut’s uninsured vary. Approximately 344,000 people lack health insurance in Connecticut and 65 percent of the state’s uninsured are minorities, according to data being used by Access Health. Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September, however, put the uninsured at 284,000.
A pilot project to provide coordinated care to children insured by Medicaid resulted in more Connecticut children receiving preventive dental services, mental health care and well-child visits, according to a new report by the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, Inc.
“Care coordination is especially important for children, as they benefit most when their needs are detected early and they receive intervention services,” the report says. “The primary care medical home is an ideal venue for detecting children’s problems at the earliest possible age and connecting families to helpful interventions and supports outside of the primary care site.”
The evaluation of the “Health Outreach for Medical Equality” project, dubbed “H.O.M.E.,” found that adding care coordinators to work with low-income children in the HUSKY insurance program boosted the percentage of Hartford children ages 2 and younger using dental services – 34 percent for those who received care coordination, vs. 25 percent of Hartford children overall. In addition, children who received H.O.M.E. services accessed behavioral and mental health services at a significantly higher rate than the overall Hartford HUSKY population. The increased access to dental and mental health care “pays off tremendously in the long run,” in terms of both health outcomes and cost savings, as problems are addressed earlier, said Lisa Honigfeld, vice president for health initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute.