Health News Roundup

The high cost of life-saving drugs, “street doctors” in New Haven, and more in this week’s roundup

Health equity

Making health research relevant — and less feared — in the Mississippi Delta
Freddie White-Johnson, STAT, April 18
Among African-Americans, there’s a lingering distrust of health research stemming from a long history of unethical practices directed against them. In the rural Mississippi Delta, where poverty is overwhelming and far too many people die prematurely, I’ve seen firsthand how African-Americans automatically associate health research with the most high-profile example of that shameful history, the Tuskegee syphilis study. Many simply don’t see the benefits of participating in research — or fear it.


Mother, wife, million-dollar patient
Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, April 25
Loukisha Olive-McCoy has hereditary angioedema, a life-threatening disease so rare that many doctors have only read about it. Fortunately, there are cutting-edge drugs to keep the swelling at bay and treat the attacks that break through. Her family relies on food stamps to get by, but the price of just one of her drugs will be about $600,000 this year. Each week, she injects medicine into her body that’s worth more than a year’s rent for the tiny bungalow she shares with her husband and their two children. When she has an attack, the costs for other drugs and care can spiral — she has received hospital bills for more than $1 million.

Linking clinical care with communities

Street medicine: Helping the homeless where they live
Steve Hamm, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, April 25
The homeless refer to Phil Costello as the “street doctor.” Phil is an advanced practical registered nurse and he and his team provide on-the-spot medical care for homeless people where they are—in soup kitchens and shelters, in parks and under bridges, and on some of New Haven’s meaner streets. They send people to the clinic for more serious issues, including mental illness and drug addiction. They run one of the most extensive such outreach programs in the state. Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center’s program is part of a movement that is gathering steam across Connecticut.

Key Elements for Advancing Clinical-Community Integration
Connecticut Health Foundation, April 25
Much of what influences our health occurs outside the doctor’s office. It makes a difference, for example, whether a person has enough food to eat, a safe place to live, reliable transportation, or a healthy way to handle stress. There is increasing recognition that improving health outcomes and eliminating disparities requires building connections between the health care system and parts of patients’ communities that affect their well-being. Two new briefs from the Connecticut Health Foundation and UConn Health’s Health Disparities Institute offer insights into how to move forward in building these critical connections.