Health & Wellness

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Report: Louisiana one of nation's worst states for black women

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 11:44 AM


A new report from the nonpartisan Institute for Women's Policy Research reveals extremely troubling data about the economic and social challenges facing black women here in Louisiana.

The report, which was compiled with the National Domestic Worker's Alliance, studied factors like political participation, employment, income and family structure to create a snapshot of the state of black women the U.S. The report's findings are genuinely disturbing: it finds black women concentrated in lower-paying jobs (even relative to their academic achievement), being paid less than white women and men in similar occupations and having more limited access to health insurance, often while acting as their family's primary breadwinner.

"Black women continue to experience structural barriers to progress that have roots in the nation’s legacy of racial and gender discrimination and exploitation," the report's authors explain. "A shifting political landscape has put Black women even more at risk for disenfranchisement and marginalization."

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Two June events at Cafe Istanbul highlight abortion rights (rescheduled)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 2:53 PM

At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist.

Back-to-back events at Cafe Istanbul highlight abortion rights and emphasize the importance of abortion access in ever-more-restrictive Louisiana.

At New Orleans Abortion Fund's NOAF OutLoud event June 14, participants share realistic stories about experiences with abortion, whether that be work as a clinic escort and activist or the story of terminating a pregnancy. The event opens up a topic that, for a variety of reasons, isn't often discussed. (Similar initiatives, such as the #shoutyourabortion hashtag, have popped up on social media in the past few years.) There are multimedia and discussion components to the evening. It begins at 6 p.m. and is free to attend.

Lift Louisiana hosts a screening of Trapped, the documentary exploring Targeted Restriction of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws and the ways such legal restrictions harm women. (You can watch a trailer for the documentary on its website.) A panel discussion follows the screening, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12. The June 21 event has been rescheduled for June 27.

As of May 1, the Guttmacher Institute (a research institution that studies reproductive health) found 31 newly-enacted restrictions on abortion nationwide in 2017. Other analysts also point to several potential restrictions on abortion funding in the American Health Care Act, the House-passed bill currently undergoing secretive debate in the Senate.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

State health director says Louisianans will 'suffer and die' under proposed cuts

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee (right) and Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne testify before the House Appropriations Committee Monday. - Gee’s department faces $920 million total in cuts — $237 million in state fundings and the rest in federal funds — in the latest budget proposal for next fiscal year that begins in July. - SARAH GAMARD/MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee (right) and Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne testify before the House Appropriations Committee Monday.Gee’s department faces $920 million total in cuts — $237 million in state fundings and the rest in federal funds — in the latest budget proposal for next fiscal year that begins in July.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, head of the Louisiana Department of Health, today said Louisianans will “suffer and die” under the legislature’s proposed cuts to state health programs.

The House Appropriations Committee met Monday to address House Bill 1, the state budget for next fiscal year, as it starts through the enactment process for the second time. The Department of Health faces $237 million in cuts from the state — $920 million if federal funds are included — in the latest version of HB1, a 9 percent decrease to the governor’s plan.

Including federal losses, cuts include $21 million from a development program for children with health complications, $60 million from displaced youth rehabilitation, $2 million from Zika virus infection prevention and $88.7 million from Medicaid-funded mental health services.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

FitLot, a community fitness center on the Lafitte Greenway

Posted By on Sat, May 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM

The FitLot is an outdoor fitness facility that's open to the public and free of charge. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Photo by Katherine M. Johnson
  • The FitLot is an outdoor fitness facility that's open to the public and free of charge.

Adam Mejerson was struck with an idea while walking on the boardwalk in Tel Aviv.

The boardwalk was full of the usual suspects: wandering tourists and joggers, but what was unusual about these joggers is that every few hundred feet or so, they would stop at a fitness station to do a quick workout before continuing to run.

Mejerson, who grew up in a household where his exercise physiologist father trained clients in their home, and who’s no stranger to fitness himself, having worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, had a thought.

“Other cities in other countries have spaces like (this) throughout the city so that everybody who wants it has access (to training equipment),” he says. “We took that as an example and designed our own park.”

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Protesters fear the worst at 'die-in' against American Health Care Act

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 2:59 PM


As a thick miasma of Trump-Russia news clouded the national consciousness, a small group of demonstrators staged a "die-in" May 19 to draw focus to the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Around noon Friday, a dozen or so activists — many of whom belong to the Metairie and New Orleans chapters of national progressive group Indivisible — stood in front of Tulane Medical Center, some carrying signs shaped like tombstones. One woman was dressed as the Grim Reaper, with a cardboard scythe that said "Trumpcare." The funereal theme was meant to highlight potential loss of insurance coverage (and, by extension, life) related to the AHCA, which recently passed the House of Representatives.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Living with anxiety: Seven young people share their stories

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:00 PM


We're living in anxious times. Between a turbulent news cycle, the fast-changing job market and technology that regularly upends whole industries, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by worry.

But for some people, those feelings aren't new — and their feelings add up to more than just apprehension about the future or situational nervousness, like the butterflies you feel when you have to give a speech. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting as many as 18 percent of Americans over the course of a year. People with these illnesses can experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including excessive worry or tension, cognitive problems such as trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances and physical issues such as heart palpitations and muscle fatigue.

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Gambit spoke to seven young New Orleanians who self-identify as living with an anxiety disorder. In their own words, they described similar feelings: My throat closed. I couldn't move. I thought I was dying. They also talked about their decisions to seek (or not seek) treatment, and how it worked out for them.

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Planned Parenthood hosts storytelling and community health event May 20

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 9:00 AM

A protester holds a sign at a February rally supporting Planned Parenthood. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • A protester holds a sign at a February rally supporting Planned Parenthood.

"Standing Strong," a storytelling series hosted by Planned Parenthood, discusses barriers to women's health care in the South. The May 20 event caps off National Women's Health Week.

At the event at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, speakers will discuss the positive impact Planned Parenthood has had on their lives and propose ways Southern women can work to enhance their health care community. Featured speakers include poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor — you can watch her perform one of her firebrand poems about reproductive rights here — and Erika Jupiter, who was a Planned Parenthood patient when she was younger and grew up to be a senior field organizer for the organization. Local health groups also will table and offer information about community resources.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. It's free to attend, but advance registration is required.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bill to allow anonymous health risk surveys in high schools fails in Louisiana Senate

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM


Louisiana has the seventh highest rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. among kids aged 15-19. Half of all new STD diagnoses in the U.S. are among young people — Louisiana leads the U.S. in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis, and it has the second-highest rate of chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A bill from state Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, would allow the state's departments of health and education to administer an anonymous survey to school districts to gauge risk behaviors among high school students. The CDC survey already is administered in 42 other states. In Louisiana, the survey omits questions about sexual activity but does ask about drug and alcohol use, among other behaviors. Colomb's Senate Bill 85 would allow those questions on the survey.

Proponents argued that with access to the full scope of risk behavior data among young people, the state could apply for more funding for programming to accurately reflect student behavior and help lower the state's high rates of STDs and unplanned pregnancies. A similar bill won House approval last year, and Colomb's bill cleared the Senate's Health and Welfare Committee last week.

But after pushback from conservative opponents, the bill failed by a vote of 14-22 during Senate debate May 16. The bill is scheduled for reconsideration in the Senate May 17.

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Sen. John Neely Kennedy calls for work requirement for many Medicaid recipients

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

  • Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

Calling Medicaid a "Sharknado-sized health insurance program for 20 percent of
Americans," Sen. John Neely Kennedy wrote in an opinion column today he would be filing legislation called the “Medicaid Reform and Personal Responsibility Act of 2017," which would require "able-bodied adult enrollees" without dependents to work, go to school or perform community service for 20 hours a week in order to receive Medicaid health benefits:
My bill is a common sense approach to reducing America's reliance on entitlement programs. Its Medicaid work requirement is similar to the current work requirement for food stamps: Adults between the ages of 18 and 55, who have no dependents and are not disabled, must spend 20 hours a week working in a job, going to school or doing community service in order to continue to receive free health care through Medicaid. I believe there is a close correlation between getting up in the morning and getting ahead in the world. Our goal should be to get people off Medicaid because they can afford their own health insurance. I don’t want to take Medicaid away from people in need. I do want fewer people to need Medicaid. 
Later in the column, Kennedy mentioned the problems of unemployed oil patch workers and Louisiana flood victims, but stopped short of exempting them from the work requirement:

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

At New Orleans appearance, a polished Sheryl Sandberg says "it gets better"

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 12:00 PM


In a 45-minute conversation at Academy of the Sacred Heart with crackly conservative intellectual Mary Matalin, Sheryl Sandberg spoke about bereavement and recovery as told in her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.

Sandberg is like a new sort of person: Facebook COO; alumna of Harvard (twice), the World Bank, the Treasury Department and Google; poised, without the hesitation and self-questioning that so often characterizes women's speech; at ease in front of a crowd of hundreds; spin-class slim at age 47; delicate pink pumps; voice like a piece of black velvet.

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