Health News Roundup

Complex questions of fairness in organ donations, barriers to treatment for moms with depression, and more in this week’s roundup


Silenced by fear
Aneri Pattani, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 5
Experts agree that postpartum depression is highly underreported. Research shows women of color and low-income moms are several times more likely to suffer from postpartum mental illness, but less likely to receive treatment. Maternal health experts say women often choose to struggle on their own rather than seek care and risk having their families torn apart by child-welfare services. Studies in several states and at the national level have found child-welfare workers deem black mothers unfit at a higher rate than white mothers, even when controlling for such factors as education and poverty.


Our organ donation system is unfair. The solution might be too.
Maggie Koerth-Baker, FiveThirtyEight, April 3
There are more people who need a new organ than there are organs available, but some regions have more registered donors, which means how long you have to wait for a liver is partly determined by where you live. That’s set to change, but the new policy has created controversy. While there are now inequities based on geography, critics say fairness requires recognizing other inequities that affect transplantation: Some states have better health systems or more comprehensive Medicaid programs, making it more likely residents will be alive long enough to receive a donated organ or able to afford the care. There are also inequities between states in rates of preventable death, which can affect how many organs are donated.


Taking care of Charlie helped one town nearly halve hospital use
Lauran Hardin and Shelly Trumbo, STAT, April 8
Millions of Americans like Charlie get caught up in an unending loop of incarceration, hospitalization, and hardship. One California town took a different approach to vulnerable, high-need residents, using a county-wide collaboration with representatives from law enforcement, emergency services, nonprofits, municipal and health agencies, and faith organizations. The new approach led to a dramatic reduction in hospital utilization and other services. It is freeing up resources, sharing data across agencies, and creating cross-sector teams to address access to affordable housing, transportation, and behavioral health.


Medicaid expansion tied to fewer heart-related deaths, study finds
Jacqueline Howard, CNN, April 5
New research suggests that a big part of the Affordable Care Act — the expansion of the Medicaid program — was linked with fewer cardiovascular-related deaths in counties where expansion took place. “The overall results of this study are that after expansion of Medicaid in 2014, the areas in the country that did expand had a significantly lower mortality rate compared to if they had followed the same trajectory as the areas in the country that didn’t expand,” said Dr. Sameed Khatana, a fellow in cardiovascular disease at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, who was first author of the new research.


Free dental clinic goes to Eastern Connecticut
Christine Stuart, CTNewsJunkie, April 9
This weekend more than 700 volunteers will provide free dental care to more than 800 people at Windham Middle School during the 13th annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic. Robert Schreibman, founder of the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach and co-founder of the clinic, said about 32 percent of residents in eastern Connecticut live below the poverty line. But access to affordable dental care is a problem that’s universal. “We get people from every part of the state,” Schreibman said. Schreibman said they expect to see a lot of “working poor” who have multiple jobs that don’t pay enough.