Health News Roundup

The desperate need for dental care in CT, and more in this week’s roundup

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When COVID hit, CT’s local public health officials sprang into action. Now they reflect.
Katy Golvala, The Connecticut Mirror, Oct. 27
Local public health departments played a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic. They coordinated broad efforts like vaccine clinics and contact tracing, distributed supplies such as testing kits and masks, guided restaurants and daycares through the reopening process, and set up grocery deliveries for seniors. The Connecticut Mirror spoke with five local public health leaders from around the state about their experiences coordinating relief efforts during a once-in-a-lifetime crisis and the lessons they hope will carry into the future.

1,100 smiles brightened at free dental clinic
Lisa Reisman, New Haven Independent, Oct. 30
The 16th annual Mission of Mercy clinic, held over two days in New Haven, provided free dental care to 1,100 people. Some waited overnight for care. “There’s such an unmet need because of the cost of health care,” said Lisa Perry-Swain, executive director of the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach, which hosts the clinics. One volunteer recalled the line snaking along the road as she drove in that morning. ​“I wanted to cry,” she said. ​“You don’t realize how many people need this desperately.”

Growing pains as California adds social services to Medicaid
Ryan Levi, Tradeoffs, Oct. 26
California’s Medicaid program is two years into the nation’s most ambitious effort yet to cover non-traditional health care services like housing and food for some of the state’s sickest and most vulnerable residents. Under CalAIM, the state’s Medicaid program now pays for 14 social services that have been shown to improve people’s health, including covering someone’s security deposit, delivering medically-tailored meals or providing a safe place to sober up. The services primarily target the 5% of Medicaid clients who account for half of the program’s spending.

Few transplant surgeons are Black. Giving medical students a rare peek at organ donation may help
Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press, Oct. 24
It’s long after midnight when the bustling operating room suddenly falls quiet — a moment of silence to honor the man lying on the table. This is no ordinary surgery. Detrick Witherspoon died before ever being wheeled in, and now two medical students are about to get a hands-on introduction to organ donation. They’re part of a novel program to encourage more Black and other minority doctors-to-be to get involved in the transplant field, increasing the trust of patients of color. The project at Meharry Medical College is one at several at historically Black colleges and universities aimed at addressing transplant inequity.