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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Public Health

The Primary Care Crisis -- A Western MA View

Ecu-Care Director Chip Joffe Halpern (also HCFA's Board President) published this opinion column in the North Adams Transcript on Friday. First rate perspective on this growing dilemma: Friday November 2, 2007 - In the United States 56 million people have inadequate or no access to primary care physicians, and a majority of them have health insurance! This report issued by the American Academy of Family Physicians reveals one of the most critical public health challenges facing this country, the lack of primary care physicians. Shockingly, out of 20 industrialized countries, per capita,... Read more »

Oral Health Gets a Hearing before Public Health Committee

The Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce made a strong showing at yesterday's hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Public Health in support of An Act to improve, promote and protect the oral health of the Commonwealth (S1217/H2085). Gardner Auditorium was packed for most of the day as almost 30 bills were heard. Sen. Chandler and Rep. D'Amico provided verbal testimony and nearly 40 legislators signed a letter of support. Dr. Mark Doherty, a man of many talents with leadership positions at Dorchester Multi-Service Center, Taunton Oral Health Clinic, Catalyst Institute and Oral Health Impact... Read more »

Legislative Hearing on Oral Health on Wednesday

The Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce will provide testimony in support of An Act to improve, promote and protect the oral health of the Commonwealth Wednesday in Gardner Auditorium at the State House in front of the Joint Committee on Public Health. This bill would provide the Office with resources and support required to perform essential dental public health functions. The bill seeks to provide statutory authority for the Office, and prevent its elimination after a change in political leadership. It is also critical that the office is staffed with a full-time state dental director and that... Read more »

This Is Why We Care About MRSA Infections...More Deaths than AIDS

No hospital bashing here, but this is serious. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Infection, published in the new Journal of the American Medical Association, documents the alarming extent of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA infections in the hinterlands. More than 90,000 Americans get the infection each year. An estimated 18,650 Americans die from MRSA infections each year, making this infection responsible for more deaths than AIDS. Another survey this year estimated that MRSA infections affect 46 out of every 1,000 U.S. hospital and nursing home... Read more »

Public Health Council Reverses Romney Stem Cell Rule

The Public Health Council met on Wednesday morning. Two new members, Dr. Meredith Rosenthal and John Cunningham, were voted into the council. The key discussion concerned rules governing stem cell research. Under Governor Romney, the Council approved restrictions that may have limited the use of stem cell lines developed outside of Massachusetts. The Council voted to eliminate the controversial restriction, which were even opposed by Lt. Gov Healey (for more details, see this Globe blog entry) The Council approved the application of the North Shore Medical Center to renovate medical/surgical... Read more »

Startling Results: US vs. European Rates of Chronic Disease

This is amazing...New study by Ken Thorpe of Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University comparing US and European rates of chronic disease (summary from Kaiser Daily Report): Older U.S. adults are twice as likely as older European adults to have a number of chronic diseases, many of which are related to obesity and smoking, according to a study published Tuesday on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs... For the study, researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University examined information from 2004 on the treatment of chronic diseases among adults ages 50... Read more »

US Population Health in Perspective -- We Stink

Stephen Schroeder, former head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, makes a powerful case for a renewed and stepped up commitment to improve population health in this week's New England Journal of Medicine -- click here. Read more »

MPHA's Geoff Wilkinson Moving to DPH

Geoff Wilkinson, the energetic executive director of the Mass. Public Health Association for the past five a one half years, is leaving that to become a senior policy advisor to John Auerbach, Commissioner of the MA Department of Public Health. Geoff's has been an outstanding leader of MPHA, and will be a terrific asset at DPH. Congrats to Geoff and best wishes: On October 5, I will be leaving my position as executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. I have accepted John Auerbach's invitation to work in his administration at the Massachusetts Department of Public... Read more »

DPH to Allow Limited Retail Clinics

Let's just say it: the new Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach is G-O-O-D. His mentor, former DPH Commissioner David Mulligan was the master, and Auerbach may surpass him -- in a good way. Two sides were squaring off on the CVS proposal to open so called "Minute Clinics" for low complexity conditions. CVS on one side, and on the other side were physicians, hospitals, and community health centers. Auerbach announced his decision yesterday (click here for Globe summary) and now has both sides praising and supporting his decision. Rather than provide a special waiver to CVS... Read more »

Public Health Conversations: Southeastern MA

We followed John Auerbach to Fall River for the next stop on his Regional Health Dialogues tour. The Southeast dialogue echoed concerns expressed in the Northeast earlier this week (see Tuesday’s blog), but the region’s character stood out from the get go in Fall River’s Health and Human Services Director Mike Coughlin’s introduction. EEE and West Nile are perennial concerns across the region, and Mr. Coughlin commented, “I don’t know why there is such mosquito prevalence here.” I blame the swamps and wetlands, Mike. Read more »


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