Healthcare Issues

Perspectives from living many places in a few short years – Part 3: A few healthcare issues I have noticed

Living the life of a nomad for the past three years has exposed me to several healthcare issues around the US. Here are two issues I discovered.

In Jackson, Mississippi, there are a lot of premature babies being born, and a lot of babies born to young teenage moms. I remember one mom was 13 and her sister was 15 with 2 kids. Mississippi has high rates of teen pregnancy and obesity. Obesity goes along with malnutrition, both of which are contributing factors to the number of premature babies being delivered.  Being able to save these babies is a modern day medical miracle, but usually (though not always) it is safer for the baby to be delivered at term. We need better nutrition, education, prenatal care, and medical access to care if we want prematurity and teenage pregnancy rates to decline. Easier said than done. What suggestions do you have? Please post comments with your thoughts.

In Chicago, over the course of a few months I watched a woman deteriorate: she had asthma and she liked to drink. In January she was admitted under our care for asthma attacks; her asthma was very poorly controlled. Our attending doctor told her how severe her asthma was and how necessary good control was. He spoke with her about her drinking, and we made sure she went home with her asthma medication. Again in March she was admitted for an asthma attack. Again, we made sure she had her medicines and that she knew she must stop drinking. In June, when I was in the ER rotation, she was being seen for chest pain. I remember noticing how thin, anxious, emotional and sick she looked. Her chest pain was due to asthma, and how she looked was due to months of not taking care of herself. I can’t forget how she cried while admitting to continuing to drink. She had literally wasted away; we stopped her asthma attacks, sent her home with her medications and instructions to stop drinking with resources for how. I felt sad in seeing her waste away; I only imagined what was to come. This isn’t a story particular to Chicago and it isn’t a pediatric story. Medical problems and mental health issues, complicated by poor self-care, plague people of all ages everywhere. Certain areas of the country have limited health care follow up. People are seen when they are sick but often there is no continual care to ask, “How are things going?” We need more medical follow up to really help people of all ages with chronic medical and mental health issues. Are there medical follow up issues in your area? Please post comments to let us all know.

Published on: September 03, 2010
About the Author
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Veronica Lois is a second year pediatric resident at Stanford University who enjoys writing and now wants to share her medical knowledge with the general public.

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