Health News Roundup

Maternal deaths rose during the first year of the pandemic, and more in this week’s roundup

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Maternal deaths rose during the first year of the pandemic
Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times, Feb. 23
A new report shows that the number of pregnancy-related deaths rose 14 percent from 2019 to 2020. The trend worsened for Black women, who were already dying at a much higher rate than white women before the pandemic. New programs that provide enhanced services for patients, such as doulas, can help better support people of color during pregnancy and birth.

Delayed medical care during COVID-19 pandemic now catching up with patients, Connecticut doctors say
Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant, Feb. 23
Many residents delayed medical care over the last two years, including routine visits and care for acute issues. Doctors report that delayed care is catching up with people, some of whom are showing advanced health issues that might have otherwise been mitigated. Lack of health insurance or access to care are barriers that have amplified this issue. Some doctors worry that future research will find major increases in the incidence of chronic illnesses that went under-treated over the past two years.

20 years ago, a landmark report spotlighted racism in medicine. Why has so little changed?
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, Feb. 23
Unequal Treatment” was the first major report to point to longstanding systemic racism as a reason for the nation’s deeply entrenched health disparities. Despite hope for change, there hasn’t been a lot of progress toward health equity. The authors of the landmark report cite a myriad of reasons for the stagnation, including continued discomfort with discussing race, widespread denial of racism within the health care profession, a fragmented health care system, and more.
Related: The U.S. hasn’t made much progress on health equity. These leaders forged ahead anyway. Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, Feb. 24

As politics infects public health, private companies profit
Vignesh Ramachandran, Kaiser Health News, Feb. 17
For some counties and cities that share a public health agency with other local governments, differences over COVID preventive measures have strained those partnerships. As jurisdictions split to set up their own local health departments, some are planning to contract with private entities. Amid practical challenges and a national public health worker shortage, advocates have called for greater coordination and regionalization of public health resources instead.

Surging behavioral health care needs for children put strain on school social workers 
Elizabeth Heubeck, Connecticut Health I-Team, Feb. 17
Connecticut school social workers have felt the strain from the surge in children’s behavioral health care needs. As needs have increased, Connecticut’s social worker to student ratio lags behind the national standard. Even in districts with seemingly adequate mental health resources, some schools still find themselves in crisis mode.