Tag Archives: health care

National Public Health Week at Wesleyan April 6-10

National Public Health Week 2009April 6 marks the beginning of National Public Health Week, and HealthCAN, WesPREP, ASHA, and AMSA are collaborating to hold public health-related events to raise awareness.

The purpose and goals of the broader National Public Health Week in which these groups are participating is neatly summed up on the official website:

Despite the dramatic progress achieved through a century of public health advancements — the elimination of polio, fluoridation of drinking water and seatbelt laws — our nation’s health falls far short of its potential. Our progress has stalled, and we have reached a point where we must examine our health system and the foundation upon which it stands.

We have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future. By recommitting ourselves to support our nation’s public health system, we can build on the successes of the past and establish the solid foundation needed for a healthy nation.

National Public Health Week Events at Wesleyan:

Sick Around America Film Screening – An investigation into the failures of America’s health care system. Discussion will follow. (Co-Sponsored by HealthCAN)
Date: Monday April 6
Time: 8:00 PM
Place: PAC 002

Health and Prisons Presentation – Come hear Jamal Ahmed ‘09, Hannan Braun ‘09, and Roy Chung ’09 present on prison rape, mental health care in prisons, and the prevalence of tuberculosis in prisons.
Date: Tuesday April 7
Time: 6:30 PM
Place: Usdan 110

Write to your legislator day! – We’ll have materials ready for you to write, email, or call your legislator to voice your support of immediate health reform in the US.
Date: Wednesday April 8
Time: 12:00 PM
Place: Usdan Café

Free STI Testing
Date: Thursday April 9
Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Place: Eclectic

Health Policy and a Pint – This will be a session for anyone interested in health policy. We will discuss current topics in health policy and address what we, as students, can do to enact political change.
Date: Friday April 10
Time: 12:00 PM
Place: Exley 137

Get involved with the Community Health Center

Paawan Punjabi ’09 writes:

The Community Health Center is a nonprofit agency providing access to, and encouraging participation in, comprehensive primary care and social services. Its services are available to all, and particularly to those who cannot gain access to such services elsewhere. The CHC operates on the principle that health care is a right, not a privilege.

We are looking for students interested in working with this community organization. A variety of jobs are available, including assisting in departments such as: medical offices, dental offices, finance, community organizing, arts in healthcare, computer/web design, data/research, and many others. Both volunteer and work-study positions are available!

Check out the CHC website or email Paawan at ppunjabi@wes for more information.

Health Care Documentary and Discussion Tuesday

Interested in the health care system? Come to a screening of the short documentary Diagnosis: NOW! regarding health care reform in the United States.
I support healthcare4every1 because health insurance is one of the few benefits that doesn't come with being a mascot
The 12 minute film will be followed by a discussion of health care reform plans at the state and national level, as well as some discussion about the differences between the health plans proposed by Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. Our guests for this discussion are:

Date: Tuesday, Oct. 14th
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: Woodhead Lounge

Feel free to bring your dinner and your own personal health care story!
Sponsored by HealthCAN

Healthcare for Adjuncts

It seems at Wesleyan the only time anyone really cares about a professor’s tenure status is during evaluations. “Does he have tenure?” “Yeah.” “Oh, then fuck this.” And the student crumples up the evaluation and leaves. Well, the problem is when professors aren’t even in the running for tenure. Visiting professors and adjuncts are not on the tenure track. Colleges see them as temporary employment for temporary shortages and their treatment reflects their evident disposability. As such, they tend to face more job insecurity, less benefits, less academic freedom, considerably less pay and often greater workloads than many other tenure-track professors. Basically, they are the unsung heroes of academia.

One enterprising adjunct at Ivy Tech sought to throw a benefit concert, using the proceeds to establish a safety-net fund for adjuncts who are mostly uninsured. And then she was promptly told to stop it. And then she was fired. Inside Higher Ed reports:

Then Meadows received e-mail messages from college administrators complaining about the tickets, which identified the name “College Relief Fund.” Ivy Tech officials complained that the word “college” violated the pledge by Meadows not to link Ivy Tech to the concert — so she blacked out the word “college,” leaving the tickets labeled only as “Relief Fund.” But more e-mail messages arrived, including one telling her to “cease and desist” and in a meeting with administrators, Meadows said that the she was told by administrators that the concert had become “a PR nightmare” by implying that Ivy Tech doesn’t treat its adjuncts well.

After more meetings, and fearing that she was unfairly being labeled a troublemaker, Meadows agreed to call off the concert. Within a few weeks, despite earlier receiving good indications about her future, Meadows received a certified letter from the college saying that her contract would not be renewed. Under her contract, the college did not have to specify a reason for non-renewal, and it didn’t.

Martin Benjamin, professor emeritus of philosophy at Michigan State University and chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee for the Defense of the Professional Rights of Philosophers, said he was intrigued by the case as soon as Meadows told him about it. So he requested copies of all the documents and e-mail exchanges. After reviewing them, he wrote to the Ivy Tech chancellor this week to ask for reasons why Meadows is no longer employed.

“It’s a prima facie case that her rights may have been violated,” Benjamin said. He said he was waiting for the Ivy Tech response, and that he couldn’t prove a link between the concert and the non-renewal, but that the timing raised questions. “It looked like she’d been doing an excellent job, had the esteem of her colleagues, good teaching evaluations, and it was very surprising that she would not be given a contract,” he said. “It seems like everything they asked her to do, she did.”

Richard Schneirov, a professor of history at Indiana State University and president of the Indiana AAUP, has also been looking into the case and talking to faculty members who, because of what happened to Meadows, do not want to speak out. Based on the interviews he had conducted and the documents he reviewed, “there is no doubt” that Meadows lost her position because she tried to raise money to help adjuncts, he said.

Whether or not she was fired because of her actions is beside the point. The point here is that adjuncts are treated like crap by colleges and Wesleyan is not necessarily exempt. The poor treatment of adjuncts is a problem that has permeated higher education from top to bottom.

I’m sharing this story because it upsets me greatly to see how many of my favorite professors are thrown away year after year because Wesleyan felt they were disposable. I’m discomforted knowing that many of my professors who work as hard as any other are driving around New England teaching at multiple colleges just to make ends meet.

While Wesleyan isn’t as offensive as Ivy Tech, I think we should all be thinking a little bit more about how our professors and professors everywhere are treated. Tenure is a weird, complicated process which does serve to protect the welfare and freedom of some professors, but there should be some guarantee of security for all professors, no matter their tenure status. And I believe firmly that health care should be a basic right, if not ideally guaranteed nationally, then at least institutionally. Just because this is how it is and how it’s always been done doesn’t mean this is how it ought to be.

Marketing Medicinal Marijuana

A Typical Stoner? This ad placed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian tries to sell the herb to the middle-class white American. As bigger pharma try to jump on board this new bandwagon, will we finally see national decriminalization?

Big Surprise: College Students Really Unhealthy

A study of more than 800 college students at the University of New Hampshire found that undergrads are crazily bad at feeding themselves properly and it’s meaning high cholesterol and vitamin deficiency:

Sixty-six percent of male students and 50 percent of female students had at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, high blood glucose, high triglycerides and low levels of good cholesterol — all risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. One third of the students surveyed were overweight and obese, compared to nearly 40 percent of 18-to-24 year-olds nationally.

Joanne Burke and Ruth Reilly, both clinical assistant professors, led the study with lecturers Ingrid Lofgren and Jesse Morrell as part of the university’s “Nutrition in Health & Well Being” course. The study was first presented at the Experimental Biology Annual Meeting.

Only 5 percent of female students and 18 percent of male students met their daily recommendations for fiber intake. Most female students had too-low levels of iron, calcium and folate — 77 percent, 67 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

Students were surveyed on their diet and exercise patterns and calculating their body mass index numbers. Researchers measured their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. Students also kept a food diary for three days, later adding up the calories, carbohydrates and nutrients they had taken in during that time.

The purpose of the program, Burke said, was for students to become engaged with the course material in a hands-on way. “If they read surveys or look at other peoples’ data, they don’t really understand the health risks,” she said. “When they get their data back they ask, ‘What does it mean for me?’ and it’s a real eyeopener, it’s a way for them to connect to what they’re studying.”

Burke said that though studies of the alcohol use, sexual activity and other “vices” of college students are common, the concerns of obesity, vitamin deficiency and other issues facing the New Hampshire students have barely been studied at the college level, because they are “important, though not as immediate.” The Centers for Disease Control last did a comprehensive college-based health survey in 1995, collecting data from 5,000 undergraduates for the National College Health Risk Behavior Survey.

Typhoid Wes-y

It’s a lame post title, but a serious topic, and I’m not entirely clear on why the health center has not sent out a campus-wide bulletin.

The information is this: a Wesleyan student who would probably rather remain anonymous returned to her home in Mexico, finding not long afterwards that the sickness she had been suffering through was not, in fact, a routine bug but Typhoid Fever. Although the Health Center is claiming that said student probably caught the disease while home in Mexico, where it is more common, the student’s mother is fairly sure she contracted it while still in the states. In Middletown.

In a January 13 post to the parent listserv, the student’s mother explained,

“Our daughter has been ill for the past week. Initially we thought she had the scourge of sinusitis, cough, headache and general malaise that many locals are experiencing.

A battery of blood tests on Thursday however revealed the culprit..typhoid.

She is receiving the appropriate treatment and is expected to feel better in another 3-5 days…Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103° to 104° F (39° to 40° C). They may also feel weak, or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite. In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. The only way to know for sure if an illness is typhoid fever is to have samples of stool or blood tested for the presence of S. Typhi .

It is recognized by the sudden onset of sustained fever, severe headache, nausea and severe loss of appetite. It is sometimes accompanied by hoarse cough and constipation or diarrhea.”

The parent went on to advise students who have been feeling under the weather but unable to figure out why to get tested immediately, but emphasized that the disease can only be transferred from oral contact with food/water contaminated with fecal matter or the fecal matter itself (i.e. someone not washing hir hands.)

So basically: cause for alarm and not panic, but I thought that Wes community shouldn’t be quite so in the dark on this. Just your friendly neighborhood Wesleying, keeping y’all informed.

Xue adds: Somewhat related: Giant Microbes sells a Typhoid stuffed toy.

Prepare a Cold Care Kit Before it’s Too Late

Dear Wesleyingers,

I know, I know, you’re all excited about going back to school. Winter break is far too long and we’re all anxious to get back to the ubiquitous naked party that is Wesleyan, but while you’re packing up your birthday suit, why not prepare yourself a cold kit?

That’s right, the two or so weeks after every break, without fail, are probably the most germiest, grossest, yuckiest time ever to be a college student. Why? Because a huge chunk of the school gets to campus via plane, bus or train, and as you know, planes, buses and trains are veritable greenhouses for infectious disease (at least this is my theory).

I’m not really one of those people who gets insane about germs and antibacterial hand lotion and what not, but I know that upon returning from break, everyone gets really sick really fast and soon the labs are all filled with people sucking up phlegm and making disgusting hacking sounds and classes become unbearable as everyone starts hacking up the inner lining of their lungs.

Or everyone gets gastro and we all die.

So here’s the plan. Everyone makes a cold care kit! While the health center will provide you with their own version of a cold care kit (generic menthol cough drops, aspirin, etc), why not make your own kit and fill it with all the goodies you like?

Here are some of Xue’s recommendations for your kit:

  • Emergen-C
  • Ibuprofen*
  • Benadryl*
  • Tea (make sure you have some that’s decaffeinated)
  • Cough drops*
  • Sudafed*

In addition to those (especially Emergen-C, because I *swear* by it), I recommend arming yourself with:

  • Tissues
  • A small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Chloraseptic spray
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep-aids (I recommend Simply Sleep)
  • Cans of soup

You should keep these items in a separate box or drawer so you always know where everything is.

* indicates this item is available in generic form from the health center.

Student Health Care

Well, I admit it. I don’t have real health care. What many students take for granted under their parents’ plans, I do not have. What I do have is Wesleyan’s brand of health insurance offered for free to University Scholars and is available to most students at something like $400 a year.

The plan absolutely sucks and covers basically nothing–no prescriptions, nada. I see a dentist basically once every two years. I put off seeing doctors when at home in Pennsylvania completely because I have no coverage when I’m not at Wesleyan. In fact, the only doctors I can afford to see are at our health center (and wonderful people they are, I might add) because they are free. In the unfortunate event I should get hit by a bus, the coverage cap is pretty low and probably wouldn’t cover three days in the hospital.

In sum, it is basically some of the worst health coverage imaginable. But unless I want to turn over my entire monthly work-study paycheck to get decent health care, I’m stuck. (Trust me, I am a huge advocate of universal health care.)

Anyway, today in the Chicago-Tribune, there was an article about how even if you are lucky enough to get covered by your parents’ plans, you may need to pay attention:

Full-time college students frequently are covered under a parent’s policy or university-offered plan. As a result, just 20 percent of full-time students ages 19 to 23 go uninsured, while 40 percent of non-students and part-time students lack coverage, according to a study this year by the Commonwealth Fund.

Even so, experts say that students’ insurance often is inadequate, for several reasons:

– Services are not within network.

Your parent’s health insurance plan may be restricted to an area that’s close to home–a problem if you move cross-country to go to school. Most student health centers allow you to meet with a physician for free, but if you need additional services, such as lab tests or an X-ray, you could have to pay out of pocket.

– You’re not a “dependent student.”

To qualify for coverage through a parent’s policy you often have to be a full-time student, not part-time. Even then, most plans kick you off when you hit 23, or when you cannot be claimed as a dependent on your parents’ tax return.

“And we’re finding that more employers and insurance companies are doing audits,” said Stephen Beckley, a health-care management consultant. “We’re running into students who say, `I just found out I don’t have health insurance.'”

– You’re on the hook for catastrophic costs.

Because college health plans originally were designed to supplement a student’s medical insurance, not replace it, many policies offer skimpy protection.

So, for example, instead of offering up to $500,000 in catastrophic coverage, the recommended minimum, university plans might cap it significantly lower.

“The ground changed beneath colleges’ feet,” Beckley said. “And to design full-service plans for the student population requires extraordinary resources that most student affairs [offices] just haven’t come to grips with.”

Also keep this in mind the next time you go to the health center. I’d say our facilities are pretty damned good all things considered and I’m extremely grateful for their existence. Otherwise, I’d have one sorry broke ass.

If you do not have any form of coverage, I really recommend asking about Wesleyan’s plan. While it sucks, it’s crucial you have something, anything in case something bad happens to you.