Health News Roundup

What it will take to end health disparities, and more in this week’s roundup

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Ending racial health disparities hinges on penalties, political will, experts say
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, July 12
The nation’s widespread racial health disparities won’t be erased without changes to how health care systems are funded and accredited, more public and financial accountability for poor patient outcomes, and more work to overturn the income inequality and residential segregation tied to poorer health and lower life expectancy for many people who are Black and brown. Those are some of the conclusions of experts who spoke to a committee that is building on the landmark “Unequal Treatment” report, which was published 20 years ago and was the first major report to point to racism — not lack of insurance, poverty, or refusal to seek care — as a major factor in causing health disparities.

Why does another rural CT hospital want to close its birthing unit?
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, July 13
Two rural hospitals in Connecticut — Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs and Sharon Hospital in Sharon — are seeking to close their labor and delivery services. In recent years, Rockville General Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Milford Hospital shut down their birthing units, part of a series of maternity ward closures across the country. This article examines why so many hospitals no longer want to deliver babies, and what that could mean for patients.

Historic redlining linked to worse cardiovascular health for veterans
Erin Blakemore, The Washington Post, July 16
Redlining, a historical housing discrimination practice, continues to be linked to worse cardiovascular health among U.S. veterans, according to newly published research. Redlining was a process started by the federal government in the 1930s that classified areas with large numbers of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities as high-risk, making it harder for people living there to get mortgages. Redlining was prohibited by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, but it has long been associated with increased disease risk, reduced access to health care and other worse health outcomes.

Black and Latino Students Are Struggling with Mental Health. This Program Could Help. 
Naomi Harris, Capital B, July 10
Recent reports have shown that Black youth are at higher risk for issues such as depression and anxiety. That trend was similar for Latino youth last year; researchers found that the group had the highest level of depressive symptoms compared with other racial groups. Those trends need to be tackled through better mental health training, experts say, and also by putting more focus on cultural competency. A program at Howard University aims to train more Black and Latino social workers to make them better equipped to help students in public schools.