Tag Archives: native americans

AHCJ celebrates 20 years with conference in the desert

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJDonald Warne, M.D., M.P.H., pointed out that American Indians aren’t broken out in most health data sets, which identify blacks, whites and Hispanics.

More than 700 people attended Health Journalism 2018, the 20th anniversary celebration of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Reporters, editors, producers, health policy experts, doctors and educators gathered in the scenic Phoenix desert to discuss emerging science, new trends in business, health information technology and more.

The conference kicked off with an engrossing and sometimes startling presentation about health in the Native American population. Continue reading

Expanded use of dental therapists on tribal lands gains editorial backing

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Dana via FlickrThe Swinomish Indian Tribal Community defends its recent hiring of a dental therapist as an act of tribal sovereignty, despite continued resistance from the dental community.

Photo: Dana via FlickrThe Swinomish Indian Tribal Community defends its recent hiring of a dental therapist as an act of tribal sovereignty, despite continued resistance from the dental community.

A recent news package in the Seattle Times detailed the challenges faced by poor Medicaid patients in seeking dental care.

Now members of the newspaper’s editorial board are calling for reforms they say would improve access to dental services in the state.

“Too many of Washington’s residents insured by Medicaid are not able to get the dental care they need, which endangers their general health as well,” they wrote in the editorial.

“Two simple things should be considered to improve the situation. The state could explore licensing dental therapists, who can provide limited basic services at a much lower cost than dentists,” the editors noted. “The other is to begin increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, at least for certain patients, especially those at risk for costly health complications.” Continue reading

Helping Lakota elders with advance care planning

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Mary IsaacsonPowwows provide a good venue for Pine Ridge elders to discuss advanced care planning and wills.

Photo: Mary IsaacsonPowwows provide a good venue for Pine Ridge elders to discuss advanced care planning and wills.

A unique outreach program is helping elders of the Lakota nation to address issues of palliative and end of life care among residents of reservations throughout South Dakota. The program incorporates culturally appropriate language and uses peer educators to promote advance care planning and wills.

When Mary Isaacson, an assistant nursing professor at South Dakota State University, began exploring the issue with older adults from the Pine Ridge reservation in 2014, she found an overwhelming need for education and materials. Within a year, Pine Ridge elders Patricia Catches The Enemy, Valaria Red Cloud and Garfield Apple collaborated with Isaacson to develop a Lakota-specific advanced directive brochure and received training to be advance directive coaches. While attending events, such as powwows and flea markets, and visiting community centers where elder meals are served, they hope to start conversations about advanced care planning and wills. Continue reading

Native American death rates top all groups

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Death rates among native Americans are high and climbing for men, women and infants, Vanessa Ho reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Ho found that “the downward drift, which reflects national trends, stems from entrenched health disparities exacerbated by years of inadequate funding.”

A recent state Department of Health report showed that the march against cancer, heart disease and infant mortality has largely bypassed Native Americans. In 2006, the latest year studied, Native American men were dying at the highest rate of all people, with little change since the early ’90s. Their life expectancy was 71, the lowest age of all men, and six years lower than that of white men.

The news was just as grim for Native American women. Their death rate had surged by 20 percent in a 15-year period, while the overall death rate had decreased by 17 percent.

But the starkest health disparity was among babies. Native American babies were dying at a rate 44 percent higher than a decade ago, while the overall rate of infant deaths had declined.

Ho discovered that tribes are running out of annual health-care money sooner than ever, and that lack of preventative medicine and poor dietary habits have only exacerbated health problems among Native Americans.