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  • 31 Aug 2022 8:12 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    As a child, Dr. Alika Lafontaine had a stutter and was labelled as having a learning disability. He says teachers told him he would never graduate high school.[CBC]

    "I definitely had learning challenges," Lafontaine told White Coat, Black Art's Dr. Brian Goldman. "People were quick, I think, as a kid, to label me as somebody who just couldn't achieve because of this."

    On Aug. 21, Lafontaine takes over as president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), becoming its first Indigenous leader.

    Full article here> 


  • 30 Aug 2022 5:39 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Racial residential segregation—in which racial or ethnic groups live in separate, unequal neighborhoods—tends to concentrate factors that contribute to racial disparities in health. These include socioeconomic and environmental stressors. Racial residential segregation is associated with differences in death rates, pregnancy outcomes, and chronic diseases. [NIH Research Matters]

    Researchers have been exploring the relationship between racial residential segregation and children’s cognitive development. Lead exposure is known to cause cognitive and developmental problems in children. Kids can be exposed to lead via lead-based paint, lead pipes, or proximity to sources of lead pollution. These factors tend to be more prevalent in poor neighborhoods. But few, if any, studies have evaluated the complicated relationships between residential segregation, lead exposure, and cognitive development.

    An NIH-funded research team from Duke University, Rice University, and the University of Notre Dame linked detailed birth records with lead screening and standardized testing data for almost 26,000 children in North Carolina. The children were all born in the year 2000. Standardized testing occurred 10-11 years later, at the end of fourth grade. The researchers also developed a measure of racial residential segregation in different areas. Results appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on August 23, 2022.

    Overall, non-Hispanic Black children had higher median blood lead levels than non-Hispanic white children. More than 80% of the Black children experienced economic disadvantage. Black children also lived in areas with greater racial residential segregation than white children, both at birth and at the time of the standardized testing.

    Reading test scores declined with higher levels of either blood lead or racial residential segregation at the time of testing. The researchers also found that blood lead levels and residential segregation interacted to affect reading test scores among the Black children. For those with low blood lead levels, test scores were not affected by racial residential segregation. However, among those with higher blood lead levels, test scores decreased as racial residential segregation increased. This effect became more marked as blood lead levels increased.

    Math test scores also declined as blood lead levels increased. But the researchers didn’t find an interaction between blood lead levels and racial residential segregation on math scores.

    Full article here> 


  • 29 Aug 2022 7:37 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was 7 years old.

    I excelled in school, attended a good college, scored well on the MCAT, and was accepted into medical school just as I always knew I would be. It was only as I progressed in my career as a physician that I realized that being a white, middle-class individual had given me an advantage -- I had access that others did not. [MedPage Today]

    There has been considerable talk about admitting more diverse students to U.S. medical schools, but not enough progress. In 2021-2022, U.S. medical school matriculants were 11.3% Black and 12.7% Latinx, not yet mirroring the total U.S. population at 14.2% and 18.7%, respectively.

    Medical school admissions committees evaluate a medical school applicant's academic credentials and life experiences. Often, they strive for fairness by establishing scoring mechanisms applied evenly to all applicants. Fair, perhaps, but just -- not even close. "Fair" forgets that opportunity has not been equally distributed up to the point of a medical school application.

    The MCAT, as used by most medical schools, is a major contributor to the educational injustice of the medical school application process. There remains an unexplained gap in average MCAT scores between white (503.1), Black (494.9), and Latinx (497.1) test-takers (Figure 7). This gap matters as 29% of applicants with a score of 502-505 are accepted compared to 10% with a score of 494-499 (Table 2). If we are serious about diversifying the physician workforce, we must rethink the way in which this examination is currently being used. Why? Because the unspoken MCAT line drawn by the majority of medical schools is keeping potential Latinx, Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) students from attending; maybe even keeping potential students from applying.

    Full article here> 


  • 28 Aug 2022 8:45 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The new report adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting links between sleep and cardiovascular health.

    Many people dream about being able to have the luxury of an afternoon nap, but it turns out that those who frequently get a dose of daytime dozing may actually face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  [Managed Healthcare Executive]

    A new study published in the journal Hypertension has found a connection between the frequency of daytime napping and a person’s risk of hypertension and stroke. The study backs up earlier reports linking sleep and heart health, though the causal mechanisms behind the correlations have not yet been fully explained.

    In the new report, researchers used a British population health database called UK Biobank. The data set includes more than 500,000 people ages 40 and older who volunteered to regularly provide health and lifestyle information, along with blood, urine, and saliva samples, beginning in 2006.

    Four times between 2006 and 2019, participants were asked about their sleep and napping habits. Respondents were asked to say how often they took naps during the day, with three possible responses: “never/rarely,” “sometimes,” or “usually.”

    Corresponding author E. Wang, MD, PhD, of Xiangya Hospital Central South University, and colleagues wanted to know whether the frequency of a person’s napping might correlate with their heart health. They began with the UK Biobank dataset and then excluded any participant who already had a history of hypertension or stroke.

    What remained was a data set of 358,451 people. After a mean follow-up period of 11 years, the investigators compared those napping reports to incidences of first-time hypertension and stroke.

    Wang and colleagues found that, compared to those who reported “never/rarely” napping, people who frequently napped during the day had a 12% higher chance of developing hypertension and a 24% higher chance of having a stroke. When broken down by age group, those who were under the age of 60 had a 20% higher risk of hypertension if they napped frequently, compared to those who never napped. Among those over the age of 60, the increased risk was 10%.

    The American Heart Association recently included sleep duration as one of eight “essential” health factors and behaviors it says can affect a person’s cardiovascular risk. One of the co-authors of that checklist, Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, of the University of Arizona, said in a press release that these new findings add to a growing understanding of the importance of sleep.

    “This study echoes other findings that generally show that taking more naps seems to reflect increased risk for problems with heart health and other issues,” he said.

    Full article here>


  • 26 Aug 2022 2:37 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Just under one-third of Illinois counties are at the level where masks are recommended in indoor public spaces, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Health News Illinois]

    IDPH reported 5,116 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths on Thursday.

    Thirty-three counties are at a “high” community level of COVID-19, down nine from the prior week. Forty-eight counties are at a “medium” level, up nine from the prior week.

    As of Wednesday, 1,375 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up 12 from Tuesday and down 62 from the prior week.

    Of the patients in the hospital, 148 were in intensive care units, up three from Tuesday and down 12 from the prior week. Twenty-one percent of Illinois’ ICU beds were available, up 1 percentage point from the prior week.

    There were 63 patients on ventilators, up eight from Tuesday and up seven from the prior week.

    The new cases bring the state total to 3,666,458, while the death toll is at 34,664.

    The seven-day average for new cases on Thursday was 3,625, up 205 from the prior week. The seven-day average for daily deaths is 12, up three from the prior week.

    The seven-day case rate per 100,000 people is 28.5, up 1.7 from the prior week.

    Illinois vaccinators have administered 23,206,696 COVID-19 vaccines, including 4,743,943 booster doses. The seven-day average for doses administered is 6,979.


  • 25 Aug 2022 11:09 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The deadline to submit a manuscript precis for a supplemental issue of the journal Prevention Science, commissioned by the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), on design and analytic methods to evaluate multilevel interventions to reduce health disparities has been extended to Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. [NIH Office of Disease Prevention]

    Effectively addressing structural racism and other structural determinants to improve health equity requires evidence-based multilevel interventions. However, studies that evaluate multilevel interventions face specific design and analytical challenges.

    If you have new ideas for how to balance methodological rigor with design feasibility, acceptability, and ethical considerations in these kinds of studies, consider submitting a manuscript precis to the ODP by Sept. 30, 2022.

    For more details on how to submit visit this page. 


  • 24 Aug 2022 11:00 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois saw a 2.2 year drop in life expectancy during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Health News Illinois]

    The drop from 79 years in 2019 to 76.8 years in 2020 was the eighth-highest drop among all states and the District of Columbia. Illinois is below the national average of 77 years, itself a decline of 1.8 during the period.

    The life expectancy for Illinois men was 73.8 years in 2020, For women, it was 79.8 years.

    All 50 states and the district saw life expectancy drop over that time, likely due to COVID-19 and increases in "unintentional injuries" such as drug overdoses, according to a CDC report. 

    Hawaii had the highest life expectancy at 80.7 years, while Mississippi had the lowest at 71.9 years.


  • 23 Aug 2022 12:07 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Advocate Aurora Health wants to establish a 27-bed acute mental illness unit at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, according to a recent filing with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. [Health News Illinois]

    The $21.1 million project will relocate existing services at Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Medical Center, which has a level I trauma status and offers an array of specialized tertiary and advanced care services, the health system said in its application.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for medical/surgical beds at Advocate Christ Medical Center, and the Hazel Crest community is in a mental health professional shortage area, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration. 

    The relocation will allow both hospitals to better serve the south Chicago region, per the application. 

    “The planned project will better align healthcare services to where they are most needed,” it said. 

    The project is expected to be completed by February 2024.

     The board is tentatively set to consider the plan at its Jan. 31 meeting.


  • 22 Aug 2022 12:43 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Officials from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services said last week the federal public health emergency over COVID-19 will likely last through the end of the year.[Health News Illinois]

    HFS’ Jesse Lava told a subcommittee of the Medicaid Advisory Committee that the expectation is the emergency will be renewed another 90 days past its current expiration date of mid-October. The agency was previously told it will be given a 60-day notice of the emergency’s end.

    “We're planning for that," he said. "As the PHE ends, the continuous enrollment coverage would also end." 

    HFS continues to update information for Medicaid enrollees ahead of redeterminations resuming, he said. That includes promoting a website for advocates to provide to recipients.

    The agency has received about 22,000 online submissions and 5,000 phone submissions, with a notable uptick in the former at the end of July, Lava said. He noted that not every Medicaid recipient will need to update their addresses, specifically those already enrolled in SNAP programs whose information is likely up-to-date.

     “We're still going to need a lot more if we're going to have everybody receiving their digital notices on time,” Lava said.


  • 19 Aug 2022 1:39 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

     There have been 720 monkeypox cases reported in Chicago, with 42 leading to hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported. [Health News Ilinois]

    Chicago officials said Thursday that they will expand those eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine, as the city is poised to receive up to 20,000 doses in the coming week. 

    The Chicago Department of Public Health said those eligible now include any sexually active bisexual, gay and other men who have sex with men and transgender persons. Anyone who has had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox is also eligible, regardless of their sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
    “Our MPV vaccine supply continues to increase, and we are pleased to be opening up larger clinics to serve even more Chicagoans while still working to vaccinate those at highest risk to help stop the spread,” CDPH Medical Director Dr. Janna Kerins said in a statement.
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued an emergency use authorization permitting the vaccine to be administered just under the surface of the skin rather than into a deeper layer of the skin. Officials said it will provide the same immune response while expanding the number of available doses per vial.


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