Health News Roundup

Expanding doula services in Connecticut to improve birth outcomes, and more in this week’s roundup

Meg Anderson, Sean McMinn, NPR, September 3
Across Baltimore, the hottest areas tend to be the poorest — and that pattern is not unusual. In dozens of major U.S. cities, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be hotter than their wealthier counterparts. Those exposed to that extra heat are often a city’s most vulnerable: the poorest and people of color. And living day after day in an environment that’s literally hotter isn’t just uncomfortable, it can have dire and sometimes deadly health consequences — a fact reflected in Baltimore’s soaring rates of emergency calls when the heat index spiked to dangerous levels.

Robert Samuels, The Washington Post, August 31
Cheryl Gray had sat through so many presentations about programs to lift herself out of poverty that she could practically recite all the advice. But the one she heard last November seemed too generous to be true. A Mississippi nonprofit organization was looking to give 20 African American single mothers living in public housing $1,000 each month for a year. They’d be able to use the money in any way they pleased, no strings attached.

Lisa Backus, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, September 5 
The death rate from heart disease plummeted nationally over several decades for all racial and ethnic groups, but the rate of decline has slowed slightly and African Americans and low-income individuals are still at a higher risk of developing the disease and dying from it. Heart disease is a zip code issue, with more and younger adults facing higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity in lower-income communities.
Nicole Leonard, Connecticut Public Radio, September 4
Improving childbirth outcomes is becoming a priority in health care discussions as maternal and infant mortality rates remain high, particularly for women of color. In Connecticut, advocates are figuring out how doulas — or birth aids — may help lower the number of pregnancy-related deaths.
Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Journal, September 2
Debt-collection lawsuits against Connecticut patients with overdue medical bills have been on the decline in recent years, but hospitals and other in-state health providers are still suing, with nearly 86,000 medical-debt lawsuits filed in small-claims court between 2011 and late 2016.