Health News Roundup

The lack of minority teachers in CT schools, creating a supportive community for sickle cell patients in New Haven, and more


“Michelle’s House” will tackle Sickle Cell
Markeshia Ricks, New Haven Independent, December 10
A first-of-its-kind community center for those who battle sickle cell anemia will be named for former First Lady Michelle Obama and, according to plans, open for business by the new year. The Southern Connecticut Sickle Cell Disease Association of America is working to open the center across from the Yale-New Haven Hospital St. Raphael campus. The center’s aim will be to educate the community, including the health and medical community, about sickle cell and break the stigma surrounding the disease. African-Americans are the most impacted group in the United States, with 1 out of 10 people carrying the sickle cell trait that causes a disease characterized by pain, stroke, and premature death.

Could the latest in medical treatment be…a roof? Medicaid says maybe
Anita Cattrell, Health Affairs Blog, December 13
For years, health care providers have struggled with the reality that they can do little within their roles to directly address the social factors often at the root of their patients’ health issues. Last month marked what appears to be a major turning point in that struggle, when Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar suggested that his agency may begin allowing some federal health programs to directly address social factors. “What if we gave organizations more flexibility so they could pay a beneficiary’s rent if they were in unstable housing, or make sure that a diabetic had access to, and could afford, nutritious food?” Azar said. “If that sounds like an exciting idea… I want you to stay tuned to what [the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation] is up to.”


Increase in minority teachers not keeping pace with influx of minority students
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, The Connecticut Mirror, December 10
Twenty-three Connecticut school districts didn’t have a single minority educator on staff last year. Several districts have had an all white staff for years. Districts with the highest rates of minority students have the highest percentages of minority educators working in their schools. Districts in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have the highest rates, with about one-in-four educators being a minority. Finding minority teachers has challenged school districts for years. Of the nearly 2,500 students enrolled in teacher-preparation colleges in Connecticut during the 2016-17 school year, 82 percent were white, 4 percent were black, and 8 percent were Hispanic. That’s a huge difference from the makeup of the state’s study body.

A push for diversity in medical school is slowly paying off
Mara Gordon, NPR, December 4
In 2009, the body that accredits medical schools issued a new requirement: All medical schools must implement policies that help them attract and retain more diverse students. Failure to do so can lead to citations. This effort appears to be working, but the rate of change is too slow. Medical student matriculants were still 58.9 percent white in 2017. “We see the trend going up, but it’s going up very slowly,” says Dr. Dowin Boatright, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale University and coauthor of the study. “If we’re trying to get some degree of representation that matches the proportion of black people in the population as a whole … We’re talking 20 to 50 years.”