Category Archives: Community Health Leaders

Feb 11 2014
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Taking a Hint from Home Hospice Care to Help Those Who Die in Hospitals

Adopting best practices from home-based hospice care in the inpatient environment can reduce suffering at the end of life, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.  Researchers at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham said the study is the first to show that palliative care techniques usually used in home settings can have an impact on those who die in hospitals.

The Best Practices for End-of-Life Care for Our Nation’s Veterans (BEACON) trial was conducted at six Veterans Affairs Medical Centers from 2005 to 2011 and involved training more than 1,620 staff members in aspects of care for more than 6,000 dying patients. Although focused on veterans, the study can have a wider impact, researchers said, because most Americans will die in the inpatient setting of a hospital or nursing home.

“We only die once, and therefore there is only one opportunity to provide excellent care to a patient in the last days of life,” wrote lead author F. Amos Bailey, MD, director of the Safe Harbor Palliative Care Program at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, professor in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, and a 2000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader. “The keys to excellent end-of-life care are recognizing the imminently dying patient, communicating the prognosis, identifying goals of care, and anticipating and palliating symptoms. Since it is not possible to predict with certainty which symptoms will arise, it is prudent to have a flexible plan ready.”

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Oct 31 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: The cost of disposable diapers, toxins in fish, fast food calories, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

WNYC in New York City broadcast an interview with RWJF Community Health Leader Joanne Goldblum about families reusing disposable diapers due to economic hardship. Goldblum, who is founder and executive director of the National Diaper Bank Network, conducted a study that shows how the practice leads to a range of problems for families living in poverty.

When it comes to digital health and new ways to deliver care, the focus should be on the consumer and improving outcomes, not on the technology, according to experts at a recent Connected Health Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts. Mobile Health News reports that Propeller Health (formerly Asthmapolis) CEO David Van Sickle, PhD, MA, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus, pressed for greater emphasis on outcomes.  Read more about Van Sickle’s work here and here.

An American Thoracic Society panel of experts, including RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) grantee Richard Mularski, MD, is calling for better care for those who suffer severe shortness of breath due to advanced lung and heart disease. The Annals of the American Thoracic Society reports that the panel recommends patients and providers develop individualized actions plans to keep episodes from becoming emergencies, Medical Xpress reports.

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Oct 16 2013
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Illinois Governor Declares “Carmen Velásquez Day”

For nearly 25 years, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader Carmen Velásquez, MA, has helped members of Chicago’s immigrant community access the health care they need. She founded the Alivio Medical Center in 1988, which has now grown to six locations that serve 25,000 patients annually. Two more clinics are slated to open later this year.

In recognition of her work, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed October 2, 2013 “Carmen Velásquez Day.” At an event celebrating Latino Heritage Month at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Quinn called Velásquez “a true pioneer in public health policy and health care affordability.”

“As the immigrant population in the Pilsen neighborhood grew in the 1980s, Carmen Velásquez was among the first to see the crying need for a health clinic, so she went out and built Alivio Medical Center,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans are alive today thanks to her, proving that one person truly can make a difference.”

Read more about Velásquez’ work.
Read a news release about “Carmen Velásquez Day.”

Oct 10 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Assaults on college campuses, soldiers at risk for suicide, food safety, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

Angela Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars alumna whose research focuses on sexual assault and partner violence, wrote an op-ed for Aljazeera about the prevalence of assaults on college campuses, and administrative failures to take effective action to stop them.

A survey by Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Rashawn Ray, PhD, finds that Black men are less likely to run outside if they live in predominantly white neighborhoods, Runner’s World reports, while the opposite is true for Black women—they are more likely to be active in predominantly White communities. “Black men in White neighborhoods are more cautious of how they exercise and less comfortable in those neighborhoods because many Black men have had social interactions in which they were profiled simply for being Black and male,” Ray says.

A new working paper from Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Martha Bailey, PhD, MA, looks at the effects of increased access to contraception over the last 50 years. “Contraceptives and family planning helped boost college completion rates, labor force participation, wages, and family income for the children of parents who had access,” Business Insider reports.

Kavita Patel, MD, MSHS, an alumna of the Clinical Scholars program who worked on the Affordable Care Act as a senior advisor to White House aide Valerie Jarrett, was a guest on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes to discuss the rollout of the health care reform law’s online marketplaces.

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Sep 25 2013
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Pennsylvania Adopts Law Supporting Insurance-Less Health Care Offices

Zane Gates, MD, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Community Health Leader and medical director of Altoona Regional Partnering for Health Services in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Gates and Patrick Reilly, president of Impact Health Solutions, founded the Empower3 Center for Health program, which is the model for a new health care law in Pennsylvania.

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The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recently adopted a law to fund community-based clinics that can demonstrate real impact to the community with regard to increased access, reduced costs, lower emergency room (ER) visits, and improved behavioral health outcomes for the low-income working uninsured.  It is modeled on community-based clinics featuring a unique structure that I created along with Patrick Reilly, an insurance consultant from western New York:— Empower3 Center for Health program.

The model we created features an “insurance-less” office concept that allows patients to come in as frequently as needed without worrying about being billed or having any balances to pay. The program has no co-pays, deductibles or balance billing when the patients use the participating community hospital that partners with the program.  Since there is no billing at the point of service, there is more face time with the medical professionals to spend creating a true relationship that focuses on care and provides dignity to the patients seeking quality medical care. The office is open five days a week to provide access to patients as needed. 

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Sep 19 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Suicide prevention, psychotropic medication, Las Vegas buffets, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

Jennifer Stuber, PhD, an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, was a guest on KING’s New Day (Seattle, Wash.) to discuss Forefront, an organization she co-founded to advance suicide prevention through policy change, professional training, campus and school-based interventions, media outreach and ongoing evaluation. Stuber has been an advocate for suicide prevention since her husband took his own life in 2011, and supports suicide-assessment training for medical professionals as part of continuing education. Read a post Stuber wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about that legislation.

Nearly 60 percent of the 5.1 million patients who were prescribed a psychotropic medication in 2009 had received no psychiatric diagnosis, according to a study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Ilse Wiechers, MD, MPP. The study also finds that 67 percent of those prescriptions were given to patients who did not receive any specialized mental health care, Medscape reports, meaning the medications were prescribed in primary care, general medical, or surgical settings.

Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost.com report on a study co-authored by Health & Society Scholars alumni Sarah Gollust, PhD, and Jeff Niederdeppe, PhD, MA, examining how different messages about the consequences of childhood obesity could affect public attitudes about obesity-prevention policy. The researchers found that tapping into core values beyond health—like the need for a strong and ready military—appealed to conservatives, sometimes causing them to revise their views on how the problem should be addressed and which public and private entities should play a role.

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Aug 22 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Lead exposure and behavior problems, debt's impact on health, health exchange 'navigators,' and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

More Americans are dying from obesity than previously thought, according to a new study by Ryan Masters, PhD, an alumnus of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program. In recent decades, 18 percent of deaths of Americans ages 40 to 85 can be attributed to obesity, NBC News, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times report, which is much higher than the often cited 5-percent toll.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett last week signed a new health care law based on a plan designed by RWJF Community Health Leader Zane Gates, MD, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The measure will provide $4 million to community health centers in rural and underserved areas.

Children exposed to lead are nearly three times more likely to be suspended from school by the 4th grade than their non-exposed peers, according to a study co-authored by Health & Society Scholars alumna Sheryl Magzamen, PhD, MPH. “We knew that lead exposure decreases children's abilities to control their attention and behavior, but we were still surprised that exposed children were so much more likely to be suspended,” she told Science World Report.

WHYY (Philadelphia) spoke to RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Cheri Lee Rinehart, BSN, RN, about grants to train "navigators" to assist people as they purchase insurance through health exchanges. Rinehart is president of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, one of five groups in the state that are receiving the federal funds.

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Aug 1 2013
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Human Capital Network: Weight gain and depression in adolescent girls, talking about genetic markers for cancer, the cost of diapers, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Maria Katapodi, PhD, RN, FAAN, has developed a program to help women at high genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancer share the news with family members, who might also be at risk,  AnnArbor.com reports. The “Family Gene Toolkit” program pairs patients with a genetic counselor and an oncology nurse to discuss how and why to reveal the results of a positive genetic test to family members.

A study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Rebecca Thurston, PhD, finds that menopausal women tend to underestimate how often they have hot flashes and night sweats, Medical XPress reports. Treatment for these "vasomotor" symptoms (VMS) is tailored to patients’ self-reported data, meaning the current approach may be underestimating the burden on women. “While very common in menopausal women, hot flashes and night sweats can disrupt a woman's quality of life significantly,” Thurston said. “In order to test new treatments, we need to be sure we are assessing a woman's VMS as accurately as possible.”

RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Cynthia Crone, MNSc, APN, CPNP, spoke to the Kansas City Star about a $24 million outreach effort underway in Arkansas to inform residents about how to sign up for coverage in the state’s insurance marketplace, when open enrollment begins October 1. Crone leads the Arkansas Insurance Department's Health Benefits Exchange Partnership division.

In discussing Medicare’s new hospital-payment system that takes patient satisfaction scores into account, Lisa Rosenbaum, MD, an RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar, wrote in the New Yorker: “Though there are several factors informing the general likability of physicians beyond how we feel about what they tell us, there is no reason to assume we would be somehow immune to this cognitive bias when it comes time to rate them.”

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Jun 24 2013
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The Keys to Successful Medical Mentoring

Lynne Holden, MD, is president and chief executive officer of Mentoring in Medicine, Inc and a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader. Based in the Bronx, N.Y., she has established an all-volunteer organization that encourages and nurtures disadvantaged students to enter the health professions. Mentoring in Medicine introduces students as young as first grade to a wide range of health professions and provides mentoring, academic enrichment, and leadership development to set them on the path toward health careers. In addition to personal contact with health professionals, students have opportunities to deliver health education in their communities. The movement Holden created motivates and supports nearly 6,000 students and engages nearly 500 health care professional volunteers.

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As an Emergency Department physician, I owe all of my success to a number of mentors who were there to encourage, challenge, and remind me of what’s possible with a high degree of dedication and sacrifice.

Oddly, my first mentor was a television character: Marcus Welby, MD. I would rush home from school to see what types of patients Dr. Welby had to deal during the latest TV episode. I wanted to be just like him—smart, caring, and helpful.

Constant discussions about becoming a doctor led my father to give me a copy of “Gray's Anatomy”—a standard medical school textbook on human anatomy—for Christmas when I was 10.  Constant talk at family gatherings led my aunt, who was a nurse, to allow me to meet a black female physician for the very first time. I met Dr. Muriel Petioni at the age of 12 and that began a lifelong mentoring relationship until her death in 2012 at the age of 96.

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Jun 13 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Combating compassion fatigue, the effects of poor sleep, living wills, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

Getting less than six hours of sleep a night raises levels of inflammation among women with heart disease, and therefore increases the risk of a heart attack, according to a five-year study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Aric Prather, PhD. The findings did not hold true for men. United Press International and HealthDay are among the outlets to report on the findings.

RWJF Community Health Leader Darleen Reveille, RN, spoke to The Record about new community gardens in Garfield, New Jersey, and a program that will give 7th-graders and their families hands-on gardening experience as a way to learn healthy eating habits. “We’re trying to raise awareness in a fun way,” she said. “By creating these activities, you’re engaging the community, not just lecturing them on what they should do.”

“Nurses are particularly at risk for becoming overwhelmed and depleted,” RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, told the Washington Post about “compassion fatigue ” She said: “When the clinician suffers, so does the patient,” which is why many hospitals are using creative arts to help nurses manage stress and re-energize. Fierce Healthcare also picked up the story.

A study led by RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumnus Deverick J. Anderson, MD, MPH, finds that small community hospitals have higher rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia than larger hospitals, even though they use ventilators less frequently. The researchers hypothesize the disparity could result from limited familiarity with the equipment and the on-staff availability of fewer respiratory therapists and other specialty workers, News Medical and Fierce Healthcare report.

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