-Most Importantly Some Good Wine/Vino
Health is defined as the state of being free from illness or injury. Health is what keeps all individuals in a state of harmony and balance because when our health is good, we are good. However, the state of being free from illness or injury is not equal across all spectrums of the human species. Some of you may deal with health related issues on a daily basis, occasionally, or rarely. Despite your frequency, it’s doubtful time allows you to look up interesting facts and figures on this topic. For instance, did you know that black women have a shorter life expectancy than White women by 5 years, 50% higher all-cause mortality rates, and death rates from major causes such as heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and diabetes that are often 2 to 3 times higher than those for Caucasian women? Knowledge is power, so here are a few interesting facts and figures about the health of minority women that make you go hmmm.
So, which fact do you find most interesting?
Breast Cancer: A Resource Guide for Women. (2009). Retrieved from:http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/pdf/checked/bcrg2005.pdf
Pryor, David. Diabetes in African American Women. Retrieved from:http://www.blackwomenshealth.com/blog/diabetes-in-african-american-women/.
Women of Color Have More Risk Factors for Heart Disease. (2012). Retrieved from:http://www.hhs.gov/ash/news/2012/20120206.html.
Women and Diabetes. (2012). Retrieved from:https://diabetessisters.org/women-diabetes.
In the United States, race once defined an individual’s level of freedom, including where they could enter, sit, and eat. Today, with African Americans at a higher risk than White Americans for obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease, race also defines the quality of healthcare, making health disparities in African Americans the true silent killer.
Statistics from the American Heart Association and Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in African Americans. However, the link between race and health are obscured, and there is not much conversation dedicated to eliminating the socioeconomic and cultural barriers that make African Americans a target for death by disease.
So the question is what should we as healthcare professionals implement to address socioeconomic and cultural barriers that contribute to the healthcare disparities in African Americans and other minority populations? Should we continue to research different treatment regimens that can improve the overall health of African Americans and other minority groups? Or should we continue to educate these populations through traditional patient education? The Answer is No! In order for us to get something that we have never had, that means we have to do something that we have never done. The solution to this issue must extend beyond medicine, and instead be addressed by community leaders, community health providers, and minority healthcare professionals so race can be a category and not a barrier to quality healthcare.
There is undoubtedly a necessity to increase the level of cultural sensitivity among physicians, nurses, & other healthcare personnel; recognize unfavorable socioeconomic and cultural barriers as a preexisting condition; improve the community surrounding African Americans & other minority patients; and increase the number of minority healthcare workers. Implementing these actions will begin the process of closing the gap of socioeconomic and cultural barriers that contribute to the healthcare disparities in African Americans and other minority populations.
President Obama signed the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, and its first changes went into effect on July 1 of the same year. But signing that bill was just the beginning of a passionate national health care debate. Even one year later, the dust is far from settling.
One of the most politically divisive issues in the United States’ history, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been at the forefront of public and Congressional discourse practically from the moment it was written. Reforming the health care laws of the early 20th century has been a topic of discussion since the 1970s.
Yet, revisiting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act today is really just rehashing what was signed into law a year ago. Not much has actually changed, though those opposing the Act in the deeply divided Congress say it will change, and soon.
“Reforms under the Affordable Care Act have brought an end to some of the worst abuses of the insurance industry,” says the White House on its health care reform website, www.healthcare.gov.
Some of the more prominent facets of the reform include ending lifetime and some annual limits on care, allowing adults under age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plans, and forbidding insurance agents from denying care to children with preexisting conditions.
Regarding Medicare, almost 48 million of those receiving aid are eligible for free preventive care, including mammograms and colonoscopies, among other Medicare-specific reforms like prescription drug discounts.
The Act also takes into special consideration the disparities surrounding health care and minority populations. Minority Nursefrequently covers the lack of access to care and disproportionate incidences of disease, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act outlines several initiatives to combat those inequalities.
Especially pertinent to low-income patients, the Act calls for subsidized preventive health care services like annual exams, immunizations, and cancer screenings for those falling into certain eligibility groups. It also invests in cultural competency and language training, chronic condition management teams, and community clinics, with a goal of doubling the number of patients those clinics can serve. The Act also provides funds for home care visits for pregnant women and new mothers, in an effort to stem the low birth weight and infant mortality epidemic affecting minorities.
Finally, by 2014, the Act will establish State-based Health Insurance Exchanges that will create a competitive health insurance marketplace and “guarantee that all people have a choice for quality, affordable health insurance even if a job loss, job switch, move, or illness occurs,” according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Multiple parties have already questioned the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality, saying Congress does not have the power to require individuals to buy health insurance. The Obama administration has countered these claims, pointing to Congress’s Constitutional right to regulate interstate economic activity. The crux of the Act is fostering those State-based Health Insurance Exchanges, giving states flexibility in their implementation and giving individuals a choice that spans state borders. Surveys conducted by third parties, such as the Harvard School of Public Health, showed many Americans support the Act and many of its provisions, and that there is no swell of people hoping to have it repealed. Obama’s Congressional Budget Office also estimates the Act will eventually save money, reducing the deficit by $138 billion.
The White House, for its part, has tried to tout those functions of the Act that are already helping people, like the Medicare discounts and continued insurance coverage for young adults. However, though millions have already benefited from the law, most of the country has yet to feel its effects, making the continuation of these costly and sweeping changes seem pointless. The Act calls for more drastic health care overhauls through 2014, including many of the provisions directed toward reducing health disparities, but for the uninsured and underinsured, that can be a long wait.
Of course, speeding up the implementation of the Act isn’t an option, but voting during the 2012 election is. Nurses can support these changes (or refute them) with their vote. In the meantime, nurses can educate themselves, as the repercussions of the Act—whether it endures or is repealed—will be felt in communities and clinics, in juggernaut HMOs and small businesses, for years to come.
The Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky, is launching a new campaign to increase diversity in nursing. The PRIDE Program has a good acronym for an even better cause: Promoting Recruitment and Retention to Increase Diversity in Nurse-Midwifery and Nurse Practitioner Education.
“The ultimate goal of the PRIDE program is to recruit and retain qualified underrepresented students in our graduate school of nursing who will meet the health care demands of an increasingly diverse population,” the school says. They kicked off the campaign this past June with its first annual Diversity Impact weekend. The tight-knit, intimate event of 16 students held diversity forums and networking opportunities. They discussed and debated issues such as “Resources on Racial Disparities,” “Surviving Distance Education,” and “What’s Race Got To Do With It: A Courageous Conversation About Race.”
The weekend also included presentations regarding cultural beliefs and health conditions specific to certain demographics—even a potluck dinner of recipes from different cultures. All visiting students were given a $500 travel stipend, funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The Frontier University (formerly Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing) has been educating nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to work in rural and otherwise medically underserved communities for 70 years. For more information regarding the PRIDE initiative and a summary of the weekend’s events, visit www.frontier.edu/diversityimpact.