Tag Archives: Disparaties

Immigrant health gets spotlight at workshop

More than 50 journalists gathered at AHCJ’s fall workshop in San Antonio to understand and better report stories on the health of immigrants in the United States.

The workshop – “Covering the Health and Medical Care of Immigrants” – kicked off Thursday with hands-on data sessions requiring overflow seating.

On Friday, journalists learned from Elizabeth Arias, Ph.D., a demographer with the National Center for Health Statistics, that at age 65, life expectancy for the U.S. Hispanic population, despite a generally lower socio-economic status, is longer than for whites, something Arias called the “Hispanic Mortality Paradox.”

Arias also pointed out that tracking Hispanic health and death rates is problematic because the National Center for Health Statistics uses Medicare data which doesn’t allow for estimates of the Hispanic population. It wasn’t until 1980 that Social Security added Hispanic, Asian and American Indian to its application. But David V. Espino, M.D., a geriatric medicine expert who recently retired from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said Mexican Americans more likely to be disabled as they age than whites.

The speakers’ presentations are now available for AHCJ members.
Get more resources and story ideas from selected tweets from the workshop:
The good and bad: How an immigrant’s health can change
How does health reform impact immigrants?
The mental health needs of immigrants
Health and safety concerns for immigrants on the job
Special challenges in covering immigrant health

Julie Appleby, an AHCJ board member and a senior correspondent with Kaiser Health News, offered an overview of how the Affordable Care Act impacts immigrants and journalists learned that undocumented immigrants won’t be able to buy insurance through the health insurance exchanges, even using their own money.

Juan H. Flores, M.U.P., executive director of the La Fe Policy Center, pointed out that states and regions will respond differently to the needs of immigrants under the Affordable Care Act, just as they always have. He described Texas’ Medicaid program for adults as one of the most restrictive in the country, saying people have to be “destitute” to qualify.

Rodolfo Urby, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., medical director of the Southwest Texas Network, said federally qualified health centers would play a larger role in caring for immigrants.

In a discussion about the mental health needs of immigrants, Cervando Martinez Jr., M.D., a professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said that drug and alcohol abuse are uncommon in Mexico but occur among Mexican immigrants in the United States. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., F.A.P.A., executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, said that when officials cut the services for mental health, costs are just shifted elsewhere, such as the criminal justice system. Concern over their undocumented status can add to immigrants’ anxiety. So can stigmas attached to mental health care and, in particular, antidepressants.

Surprisingly, both speakers said many people in Texas go to Mexico for less expensive medical and dental care, and that there are many plastic surgeons just south of the border.

For a panel about workplace safety and health for immigrants, Karen Lee Ziner, a staff writer at The Providence (R.I.) Journal, described injuries immigrants suffered on the job. Jora Trang, managing attorney of Worksafe, said that 30 percent of immigrant workers in construction companies are not employees and so do not have rights and benefits. They tend to be less likely to report accidents for fear of retribution.

The final panel of the workshop, about special challenges in covering immigrant health, included a discussion about whether journalists should use the terms “undocumented immigrant” or “illegal immigrant” and moved to less-reported challenges.

Aging in LGBT community comes with anxiety, silence for some

For a generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, silence was, for a long time, a way of life.

Stu Maddux
Stu Maddux

Growing old and becoming ill and dependent can stir up painful feelings. Am I a worthwhile person? Will others stay by me or abandon me if I show them who I really am? Can I trust that I won’t be judged? Will I be treated well if I display my vulnerability, or do I have to put up my guard?

Filmmaker Stu Maddux, a former television journalist, anchor and producer, takes us inside this world in Gen Silent, a film that profiles six LGBT seniors and the issues they’re facing as they age. Maddux recently spoke at length with AHCJ topic leader Judith Graham about making this film and we share highlights of that conversation.

Review: Doctors experimented on healthy people

The Associated Press’ Mike Stobbe found more than 40 instances of doctors making patients sick for the sake of experimentation throughout U.S. history. Last fall’s government apology for doctors infecting Guatemala prisoners with syphilis 65 years ago sparked the review.

Stobbe, a member of AHCJ and a past board member, found healthy people were infected with malaria, Asian flu, gonorrhea, hepatitis and even a deadly stomach bug for the sake of broadening knowledge. Doctors violated the fundamental medical principle to “first do no harm.” Stobbe points out:

Attitudes about medical research were different then. Infectious diseases killed many more people years ago, and doctors worked urgently to invent and test cures. Many prominent researchers felt it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society – people like prisoners, mental patients, poor blacks. It was an attitude in some ways similar to that of Nazi doctors experimenting on Jews.

Disturbingly, some of these stories were never covered in the media.

APHA: Transportation policies impact health

Transportation policies and public health are inextricably linked, according to a new report released by the American Public Health Association.


Photo by Nrbelex via Flickr

The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation” (PDF) attempts to put a dollar amount on the cost of transportation-related health outcomes and explores how such policies affect public health.

Our dependence on automobiles and roadways has profound negative impacts on human health: decreased opportunities for physical activity, and increased exposure to air pollution, and the number of traffic crashes. The health costs associated with these impacts, including costs associated with loss of work days and wages, pain and suffering, and premature death, may be as high as several hundred billion dollars.

The report lists other things that are impacted by transportation policy, such as noise, water quality, mental health and/or stress, equity and social capital or social cohesion.

The report cites a 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office that recommended the United States refocus its transportation planning to incorporate cost-benefit analyses and the APHA says those analyses should take health costs into account.

Perhaps somewhat predictably, the report says “Investment should shift toward transit, pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure in order to facilitate healthy, equitable and environmentally sound mobility.”

Journal focuses on AA and NHPI health disparities

The May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, published online today, focuses on data showing significant health disparities among Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Asian immigrant populations.

The issue explores the health threats faced by these minority groups – particularly from cancer, which is often under-recognized and undertreated among Asian American ethnic groups.

More specifically, it details serious health issues for these groups related to breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical and liver cancer.

Members of AHCJ receive complimentary press access to the American Journal of Public Health – if you haven’t registered for access yet, please click here to do so.