Health News Roundup

How school-based health centers adapted to the pandemic, and more in this week’s roundup

Is the state’s vaccine rollout leaving Black and Latino residents behind?
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Kasturi Pananjady, and Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, Jan. 27
Connecticut has prioritized elderly residents for the COVID-19 vaccine. But the 65 and older age group in Connecticut is 84% white, compared to 67% statewide. For some, that’s raised the question of whether the state’s plans to extend the COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 to 74 next adequately considers the other populations hit hardest by the virus: Black and Latino residents. The risk of dying from COVID-19 increases strongly with age across all racial groups, but it does not do so at the same rate. A white, 65-year-old state resident has a similar rate of mortality to a 55-year-old Black person and a 60-year-old Hispanic resident, a CT Mirror analysis found.

With painstaking effort, Black doctors’ group takes aim at COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
Eric Boodman, STAT, Jan. 22
Combatting vaccine hesitancy is a natural fit for the National Medical Association, a professional society of African American doctors that has been holding frequent meetings and webinars organized with churches, universities, fraternities, and sororities. To Association President Dr. Leon McDougle and his colleagues, what’s important is hearing questions without judgment, posing them to vaccine manufacturers, and then bringing back real, transparent answers to the next town hall. To those who study vaccine hesitancy, this sort of long-term, nonjudgmental back-and-forth seems promising. Experts say the more personal and familiar the outreach, the more likely that it’ll work.
Related: How CT is working to educate communities of color about the COVID-19 vaccine, Erin Kayata, The Hour, Jan. 22

School-based health centers remain vital resource during pandemic
Elizabeth Heubeck, Connecticut Health I-Team, Jan. 28
During their three decades in operation, Connecticut’s school-based health centers have become a critical health care delivery option, especially for children who have limited access to regular medical care. Since last March, as schools have fluctuated between closed, open and somewhere in-between, the health centers have worked hard to continue providing services. The change hasn’t been easy, say health center personnel. A lack of daily access to students has had a negative impact on drop-in visits and follow-up appointments. Dental care has been on hold during the pandemic. But creativity and flexibility have enabled health center personnel to continue performing certain vital health care services for students and, in some instances, adding new COVID-19-related resources.

What 3 Indianapolis-based hospital systems will do to fight racism as a public health crisis
Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, Jan. 27
Hospitals have planned measures that include segmenting all clinical data by race to identify where differences exist, what’s driving those differences, and what needs to be changed to ensure equitable care. Other measures include ensuring the hospital workforce and leadership reflect the community and paying all workers a living wage, addressing issues such as housing and food insecurity, and mandating bias education. Hospital leaders described their plans at a forum that came against the backdrop of the death of Black physician Dr. Susan Moore, who alleged that she had received discriminatory treatment at IU Health North.

Insurers add food to coverage menu as a way to improve health
Tom Murphy, Associated Press, Jan. 23
When COVID-19 first swarmed the United States, one health insurer called some customers with a question: Do you have enough to eat? Benefits experts say insurers and policymakers are growing used to treating food as a form of medicine that can help patients reduce blood sugar or blood pressure levels and stay out of expensive hospitals. “People are finally getting comfortable with the idea that everybody saves money when you prevent certain things from happening or somebody’s condition from worsening,” said Andrew Shea, a senior vice president with the online insurance broker eHealth.