Monday Health Blog Roundup
by The Opportunity Agenda, Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 09:03:03 AM EDT
* A recent study has found that black men are more likely than white men and women to be unaware that they are suffering from high blood pressure, according to an article in Wednesday's Reuters Health. The researchers claim that this disparity stems from the fact that men are less likely than women to believe that they need to see a doctor. Moreover, men, particularly African American men, are less likely to have access to a primary care physician:
What is not good, the researchers say, is that men were less likely than women to have a regular doctor, and they were four to five times more likely to say they had no doctor because they did not need one.
Study participants who did have a regular doctor were nearly four times more likely to know they had high blood pressure, and more than eight times more likely to be taking medication for it.
* The Kaiser Health Disparities Report has linked to a study on the prevalence of asthma that appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. By looking at 10 different racial and ethnic groups in New York City, researchers examined how housing and neighborhood conditions might contribute to disparities among asthma patients:
Researchers found that Puerto Rican-Americans, other Hispanics and blacks had the highest levels of asthma, while Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans and Asian/Indians had the lowest levels. They also found that reducing minorities' exposure to deteriorated housing conditions and increasing levels of community unity, as well making improvements in other household factors, reduce asthma rates among blacks and Puerto Rican-Americans.
* An article in Saturday's New York Times discusses how rising gas prices have led to cuts in various services for the elderly. Agencies have been forced to cut back on many programs, such as Meals on Wheels, because of the rising costs of transportation. Elderly people, particularly those who are homebound, are among those most affected by these cuts, since they rely not only on the programs but on at-home volunteers as well:
Val J. Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, said that rising fuel prices had become a significant burden for the 7,000 agencies represented by his group, with some forced to close and others compelled to shrink their service areas or reduce face-to-face visits with patients. A recent survey by the group concluded that home health and hospice workers drove 4.8 billion miles in 2006 to serve 12 million clients. "If we lose these agencies in rural areas, we'll never get them back," Mr. Halamandaris said.
* The Washington Post is reporting that New Jersey is one of the states facing the harshest effects of the health care crisis - hospital closures. New Jersey's state hospitals are required to treat any person that walks through their doors, and in turn the state is supposed to reimburse the hospitals. However, the state's budget crisis has led to cuts in reimbursements, and ultimately to hospital closures:
Six [hospitals] have closed in the past 18 months, and half of those remaining are operating in the red...
The situation has come to a head in this city [Plainfield, NJ] of 48,000 people -- majority black, largely poor and with many new immigrants moving in. The city's hospital of 130 years, Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, is slated to become the latest casualty of this faltering system, closing its acute-care facility later this year. The obstetrics and pediatrics wards have already shut, and equipment is being packed up and wheeled out.
New Jersey is not the only state that has a problem of hospital closures. To learn about the extent of the problem of hospital closures in New York, visit The Opportunity Agenda's GoogleMaps mashup site, Health Care That Works.