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  • 8 Jun 2022 6:13 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    In potentially a sign of evolving patient expectations of care, more and more younger people are looking for their providers to ask them about their social needs, or conduct social determinants of health screenings, according to surveying from the University of Michigan. [Health Engagement HIT] 

    Using data from the MyVoice National Poll of Youth, the researchers determined that a whopping 81 percent of people ages 14 to 20—mostly Gen Z—want their providers to ask them about social needs that are collectively known as the social determinants of health.

    “It seems obvious that addressing social needs, like food and housing, in clinical settings would benefit patients,” Claire Chang, a U-M Medical School student and the study’s first author, said in a press release. “But we actually know very little about whether and how patients would want to receive this kind of assistance.”

    Dig Deeper

    This latest data is novel in that it provides a glimpse into some patient perspectives about social determinants of health screening. SDOH screening can be very intimate, and it requires significant trust between patient and provider. These findings suggest that many younger patients would be open to such questions during their medical encounters.

    “Youth in our study told us that they do want to talk about social determinants of health with their providers,” Change added. “It is important for us to understand these preferences and desires as social/medical care integration efforts spread across the country.”

    In fact, the finding that most younger patients want their providers to initiate conversations about SDOH is critical; nearly a third of respondents said they might be embarrassed to bring up their own social needs during a clinical encounter. Having a provider begin a discussion about SDOH could help mitigate that discomfort and foster a better patient experience.

    Younger patients also want their clinicians to come to them with a solution to their SDOH needs. A quarter said they want their providers to offer resources to help ameliorate their social needs, and just as many said providers should have information about social services addressing SDOH.

    Most younger patients want to hear about these resources in-person during their clinical encounters, although they did note they are open to receiving emails, text messages, or phone calls detailing SDOH resources, as well.

    These findings come as welcome news as more healthcare organizations consider strategies for screening for and addressing social determinants of health. It has become the consensus among the medical industry that SDOH have an outsized impact on patient health and outcomes, and now the evidence grows suggesting patients want to talk about these issues, too.

    “As a doctor, what I hear is my adolescent and young adult patients want me to ask them about more than their health. They want me to ask about their lives,” Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS, the poll director and a family medicine physician for U-M, stated publicly.

    “This opens a door for doctors and other healthcare providers to really understand the root causes of the issues that young people are facing today. Youth in our study didn't expect providers to solve their issues, rather, just listen. I can do that.”


    Healthcare organizations considering SDOH screening need to be judicious about how they roll out any changes to clinical procedure. As noted above, SDOH screening can be sensitive, and poll respondents did indicate that there is some embarrassment associated with social needs.

    Healthcare professionals need to lead any SDOH screening with empathy and trust.

    Clinicians should explain to patients what they are doing during a screening, why they are doing it, and that patients can opt out of a screening at any time.

    Those principles should be reflected in the screening itself, which is usually done on a paper form of digital tool. In addition, screening tools should meet population needs and preferences—younger people might prefer digital screenings while other populations may want a more paper-based form.

    Both using screening tools and during follow-up discussions with providers, it is helpful to have a number of resources on hand to address patient needs. Organizations should consider the community health partnerships they already have and tailor their screening questions to them—why ask about legal issues if the provider does not have a medical-legal partnership?

    This helps engender patient trust and assure a closed loop on medical and SDOH care.


  • 7 Jun 2022 5:48 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Coronaviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses with large genomes and, until recently, consisted of the mild 229E, OC43, L69, and H53U1 strains, and the "novel" SARS and MERS strains. Sometime in late 2019, a third "novel" coronavirus called the "Wuhan" strain emerged. This began what we now know as the COVID-19 pandemic. With subsequent mutation, "variants of concern" soon emerged, starting with Alpha, and the most significant subsequently being Delta and then Omicron. [ MedPage Today 6.7.2022]

    Mutations evolved and new strains replaced older variants. Now we are in the Omicron subvariant replacement phase. BA.1 was replaced by BA.2 and then BA.2 was replaced by BA.2.12.1. Starting in early 2022, the latest of these subvariants of concern became the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, originally described in South Africa. The earliest samples of BA.4 and BA.5 in the U.S. were collected on March 30 and March 29, respectively. 

    Each time a new variant comes along, it feels like we're starting from scratch all over again. How fast is the new variant spreading? What does the symptomatology and severity look like? While many questions remain about these new subvariants, below I review current insights into their transmissibility, disease severity, and survivability.

    What We Know

    See full article here> 


  • 6 Jun 2022 10:35 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker signed three bills Friday aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. [Health News Illinois 6.6.2022]


    "By deploying harm reduction strategies and expanding drug-court treatment programs rooted in rehabilitation, we can save countless lives,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Drug dependency is not a choice—it's a disorder and should be treated as such.”

    One plan, effective immediately, allows pharmacists and other medical workers to distribute fentanyl testing strips.

    “We still have a long way to go, but removing penalties organizations face when they have access to test strips is a responsible way to address the opioid crisis and to create real public safety for all instead of continuing the misguided policies of the past,” said sponsor Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago.

    Another law, effective next year, requires pharmacists and those who prescribe opioids to inform patients of the addictive nature of the drugs and provide an option for an opioid antagonist.

    The third proposal, effective immediately, allows circuit courts to implement drug-court treatment programs.

     There were 3,013 deaths due to opioid overdose in Illinois last year, according to the Department of Public Health. It was a 2.3 percent increase from 2020 and a 35.8 percent increase from 2019. 


  • 3 Jun 2022 4:00 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Three days after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, social worker and child therapist Bonnie Rumilly arrived in Newtown, Connecticut to help with crisis counseling. [MedPage Today] 

    It quickly became obvious that this would become "a long-term deployment," said Rumilly, who spent 4.5 years working with children who survived the attack.

    Full article here>


  • 2 Jun 2022 8:31 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Healthcare organizations working to build out community health partnerships to boost health equity and address social determinants of health need to ensure they are on the same page as those with whom they collaborate, according to new literature from the American Hospital Association (AHA). [8.5.2021- Patient Engagement HIT]

    That recommendation, and more, come as part of AHA’s Health Equity Resource Series. This fourth and final series installment centers on building community health partnerships, which AHA said will be central to achieving health equity.

    “The goal of advancing health and health equity within communities is more than any one organization, institution or community can accomplish alone,” AHA wrote in the report.

    “Multiple stakeholders and influencers need to work together, both within organizations and across sectors. Hospitals are trusted organizations and economic anchors in their communities; this puts them in the position to be influential partners who can truly advance health equity for the patients they serve.”

    Most healthcare organizations looking into social determinants of health and health equity work start foremost with the community health needs assessment, AHA said. This assessment, which derives straight from community input, can help organizations understand the current state of community health and the areas for opportunity and improvement.

    Read full article here>


  • 1 Jun 2022 5:10 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CHICAGO — Governor Pritzker today signed HB4703, SB3910, and HB0836 into law to increase protections and access for Illinois health insurance consumers. These bills help implement fair and transparent billing practices and provide better access to information about enrollment options.

    Specifically, HB4703 addresses surprise medical billing, which is one of the most common reasons people file health insurance complaints. The new law grants the Illinois Department of Insurance (IDOI) additional authority to assist consumers facing astronomical bills because they unknowingly or mistakenly received care from hospitals or doctors that were out-of-network.

    "Healthcare is a right—not a privilege, and surprise medical billing further deters Illinoisans from getting the care they need," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Since day one, my administration has worked to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare. We capped the price of insulin, reduced the Medicaid backlog, and enacted the Health Care Affordability Act. I am proud to sign these bills into law to further that crucial work and ensure consumers are protected in the medical billing process."

    More details here> 


  • 24 May 2022 9:30 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The city of Chicago announced it’s taking a new approach to opioid addiction and overdose deaths. [WGN News] 

    To Family Guidance Centers for Treatment says in 2020, more than 1300 people died of an opioid overdose in Chicago. That’s a 52% increase over 2019 and the highest number on record in the city.  

    The FGC and the city will now be involved in a new pilot program to get people the help they need now.  

    • Medication Assisted Recovery, or MAR, involves medicated treatment to help reduce opioid use. 

    There used to be a lot of red tape to access it, but the city is expediting the process.  

    Chicagoans can now call a city helpline and get routed directly to a prescriber at FGC to start treatment that same day.  

    That number is 833-234-6343. Texting “HELP” to 833234 is also an option

    The MAR-Now helpline will be answered 24/7 – but you’ll only be connected with a provider between the hours of 6 a.m.  and 10 p.m.


  • 23 May 2022 12:26 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    COVID-19 deaths are decreasing nationwide in the wake of this winter's omicron surge, but CDC modeling suggests this trend may change over the next four weeks. 

    Three COVID-19 forecasts to know:  [Beckers 5.23.2022]

    Cases: Daily COVID-19 cases are projected to increase 92.2 percent in the next two weeks, according to modeling from Mayo Clinic. Forecasts suggest daily average cases will jump from 93,401 cases on May 21 to 179,547 by June 4. During the omicron surge, this figure hit a peak of more than 800,000, according to data tracked by The New York Times. 

    The nation's case rate is also expected to increase from 33.3 cases per 100,000 population to 54.7 per 100,000 over the same period.

    Hospitalizations: Nationwide, daily COVID-19 hospital admissions are projected to increase over the next four weeks, with 1,300 to 11,000 new admissions likely reported June 10, according to the CDC's ensemble forecast from 18 modeling groups.

    Hospitalizations are increasing, but the nation's current seven-day average (3,250) is still far lower than the more than 20,000 new admissions seen at the height of the omicron surge, according to data tracked by the Times.

    Deaths: U.S. COVID-19 deaths are also expected to increase over the next month, according to the CDC's ensemble forecast from 22 modeling groups. The forecast projects 2,000 to 5,300 deaths likely reported in the week ending June 11, which would bring the nation's total COVID-19 death tally to a range of 1,008,000 to 1,018,000.

    The CDC said its ensemble forecasts are among the most reliable for COVID-19 modeling, but they cannot predict rapid changes in cases, hospitalizations or deaths. Therefore, they should not be relied on "for making decisions about the possibility or timing of rapid changes in trends," the agency said.

    Note: Mayo Clinic uses a Bayesian statistical model to forecast cases that automatically updates as new data becomes available. There is an uncertainty interval for forecast values, with lower and upper bounds that are not included in this list.

    To learn more about the data Mayo Clinic uses to forecast hot spots, click hereBecker's pulled the forecast values May 23 at 9:10 a.m. CDT.


  • 13 May 2022 2:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, killing residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner. AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard has tracked five categories of impact since summer 2020, as well as vaccination rates of nursing home residents and health care staff, and is updated every month to track trends over time. [AARP Public Policy Institute]  Dashboard and other info- four week dashboards. 

    See graphs and metrics here>


  • 12 May 2022 1:14 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    There is growing interest in and renewed support for prioritizing social factors in public health both in the USA and globally. While there are multiple widely recognized social determinants of health, indicators of social connectedness (e.g., social capital, social support, social isolation, loneliness) are often noticeably absent from the discourse. This article provides an organizing framework for conceptualizing social connection and summarizes the cumulative evidence supporting its relevance for health, including epidemiological associations, pathways, and biological mechanisms. [American Review of Public Health 2022]

    This evidence points to several implications for prioritizing social connection within solutions across sectors, where public health work, initiatives, and research play a key role in addressing gaps. Therefore, this review proposes a systemic framework for cross-sector action to identify missed opportunities and guide future investigation, intervention, practice, and policy on promoting social connection and health for all.

    Download PDF of the full article here>


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