Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Leading Hospice Provider Changes Name, Hosts Disparity-in-Care Discussion

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Amid a National Press Club conference room full of smiling faces, clapping hands and champagne-filled glasses, Carmela Pellicci welcomed the arrival of her employer’s new moniker: Capital Caring, a fresh title, she said, for one of the Washington D.C. area’s leading hospice providers.

Formerly named Capital Hospice, Capital Caring has helped patients and their loved ones through the arduous process of end-of-life care since 1977, a painstaking process by any standard.

Pellicci, a care representative for patients in Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C., said the provider’s new name is a welcome departure.

“As soon as you meet with a family, and they hear the word, ‘hospice,’ they cringe,” said Pellicci, who along with other Capital Caring employees, a physician panel and several visitors, cheered as President Marlene Smith Davis announced the name change Wednesday afternoon. “Capital Caring shows we really want to be there for them.”

This care, Pellicci said, goes a long way in ending health disparities in hospice care.

Health disparities refer to gaps in health care access that divide along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Black elders in the District are 34 percent less likely to use hospice or end-of-life services than whites in their age group and from their region, according to new research conducted by Capital Caring.

For more than 34 years, Capital Caring has aided 75,000 families in coping with advanced illnesses like cancer. More than 20 doctors round out the organization.

Pellicci said disparities in hospice care bleed into Maryland as well, affecting minority residents for the worst.

“I think members of the African-American community feel like they are being pushed out of the medical system and that their doctors are giving up,” said Pellicci. “That’s a big problem in Prince George’s County, as well as in D.C.”

Pellicci looked on as NPR host Kojo Nnamdi moderated the panel of physicians, which included doctors from across the country. The physicians discussed the triggers of health disparities and raised potential solutions. One point united them all: Language barriers prolong disparities in hospice care.

“People of all ages, ethnic groups and religious traditions have a fundamental ambivalence about their own mortality…language is critical,” said Dr. Richard Payne from Duke University. He cited a California study to illustrate his point.

“The study looked at Hispanic and African-American populations and found that a major issue or barrier to lack of access for those in California were around how you talk about hospice and how you connect it to other aspects of health care and community life,” he said.

Payne said the study serves as a mirror for the role language plays in deepening disparities in hospice care nationwide.

As far as solutions, Davis said improving access to counseling and pain and symptom management programs are essential to closing the gap–two strides she takes seriously.

“We’re serious about listening to our patients and families–the moms, dads, their children–and looking at the landscape to see what’s there and what’s not there,” Davis said.

Pellicci said community outreach is proving ideal for Capital Caring in Prince George’s County.

“We’re making a lot of headway,” she said.  “We’re providing a lot of education in community churches, senior centers, long-term care facilities, hospitals and just raising awareness about what Capital Caring is about. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a wonderful experience. ”

By Capital News Service’s Jessica Harper

Experts Address Nitrogen’s Benefits, Challenges

Monday, February 21st, 2011

WASHINGTON – Environmental experts Saturday stressed the importance of balancing the agricultural and nutritional benefits of nitrogen with the harsh environmental effects it can have on air and water quality.

Though most industrialized parts of the world, including the United States, have an abundance of the nutrient found in manure and fertilizer, other areas, including several countries in Africa, suffer from a deficiency of nitrogen in soil. A deficiency can result in low crop yields and serious nutritional problems, said Cheryl A. Palm, senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

“Unhealthy soil means unhealthy people,” Palm said in a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In regions where nitrogen is deficient, an increase in population coupled with a decrease in food supply can result in stunted growth in children, she added.

In Maryland, however, excess nitrogen has been an ongoing problem, especially in runoff flowing from farms into the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in water can cause algae to form, preventing fish, crabs and other sea life from getting adequate oxygen.

In December, the Maryland Department of the Environment submitted its plan to the Environmental Protection Agency for a “pollution diet” aimed at reducing harmful nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the bay. Five other states and the District of Columbia also submitted plans to the EPA.

James Galloway, a professor in environmental science at the University of Virginia, summed up the global problem succinctly.

“How do we feed the world and protect the environment at the same time?” he asked.

One solution Galloway proposed is to cut down on nitrogen use where it is not needed – namely, by reducing the burning of fossil fuels, which can emit harmful amounts of the compound into the air.

“That’s the no-brainer,” he said. “We don’t need to do that.”

-By Maryland Newsline’s Madhu Rajaraman

Hoyer Holds Forth on War, Health Care, Guarantees

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, reflected on his recent discussion with President Obama regarding Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s call for more troops during his weekly pen and pad briefing Wednesday.

“I think there was a general feeling around the room that whatever your particular view on what General McChrystal had recommended, the president had to grapple with this and come up with a policy that accomplishes the objectives the president thinks are critical,” Hoyer said.

“This is an issue that requires us to think very carefully … Afghanistan has not been a successful venue for many great powers in the past, I can’t think of any. I think we also need to have some great confidence that the government in Afghanistan is a viable government, with the confidence of its people.”

Switching gears to health care, Hoyer talked about reconciling the Senate’s bill with one that would pass in the House.

“I would be shocked if there was not a very robust conference where we would come to grips with differences between the House and the Senate. We’re not there yet in determining what the Senate bill is going to look like.”

When asked if he could guarantee the House would pass a health care bill before Christmas, Hoyer said: “Can I guarantee that? No. Do I think it will? Yes. I am way beyond guaranteeing what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it.”

- By Capital News Service’s David Johnson