Health News Roundup

Community health workers help improve outcomes for the justice-involved, and more in this week’s roundup

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Rural jails turn to community health workers to help the newly released succeed
Lillian Mongeau Hughes, KFF Health News, April 22
In Utah’s Sanpete County, Sheryl Swapp was described by a colleague as the “missing puzzle piece” at the county jail. Swapp is a community health worker who meets with every person booked into the jail when they arrive and helps them create a plan for the day they get out. She makes sure they have the correct forms of ID to be able to qualify for government benefits and apply for jobs, helps them enroll in Medicaid, and finds them a place to stay. Since she was hired last year, recidivism in the county has dropped sharply. Experts said there is growing evidence that the model—training people to help their neighbors connect to government and health care services—does work.

A year after launch, ‘HUSKY for immigrants’ sees strong demand
Katy Golvala and Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, April 19
The state-sponsored insurance in Connecticut, HUSKY, has seen a strong demand since coverage was expanded to certain children regardless of immigration status. More than 11,000 children 12 and under now receive HUSKY insurance. Before the measure went into effect in January 2023, the Department of Social Services estimated that roughly 4,250 kids would enroll. Community partners and the work they have done to spread the word and make people feel comfortable enrolling are in large part credited for the high enrollment.

The lasting impact of exposure to gun violence
Rod McCullom, Undark Magazine, April 24
In 2020, gun violence became the leading cause of death for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 in the United States. Young Black men and teenagers who live in urban areas that experience high rates of poverty, unemployment, and violent crime are the hardest hit demographic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gun homicides are the leading cause of death for Black boys and young men aged 15 to 24. Despite the staggering numbers of injuries and deaths, the long-term effects of exposure to firearm violence have long been understudied.

Women are less likely to die when treated by female doctors, study suggests
Liz Szabo, NBC News, April 22
A new study suggests that hospitalized women are less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital if they are treated by female doctors. While the data alone did not explain why women had better outcomes when treated by other women, the lead author of the study said it supported the findings of other studies that also found women are less likely to experience “miscommunication, misunderstanding and bias” when treated by female doctors. The new research is part of a growing field of study examining why women and minorities tend to receive worse medical care than men and white patients.

What comes next in the battle for emergency abortion care access
Margo Snipe, Capital B News, April 24
As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether Idaho’s abortion ban can be enforced in medical emergencies, experts worry any decision will be consequential for Black families across the country. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are far more likely than white women to turn toward emergency rooms for care during pregnancy, a disparity that widened from 2016 to 2021. Black women are more likely to need emergency care due to factors such as lack of access to OBGYNs and higher instances of pre-existing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to complications in pregnancy.