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Guilt. Fear. Shame. Disappointment. Are these emotions what we want our patients to feel when they visit us in the clinic or the emergency department? No. We want them to feel safe, heard, cared for, and wanted. Unfortunately, for patients with substance use disorder (SUD) or even those in recovery, some providers may have trouble putting their judgments aside to give patients the help they need to treat their illness and stay healthy.

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Your phone lights up: “Please call me ASAP.” You never get a text from your best friend during work unless it’s an emergency. You quickly call them back. “Things have been so hard lately. I’m not eating. I’m not sleeping. I don’t know what to do. I want to disappear.” You think your friend may be seriously thinking about suicide. You want to ask them directly, but you don’t want to make things awkward if you’re wrong. “Hang in there. It’ll get better,” you reply.

Jacqueline Sharp, Director of the Arkansas division of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), has heard of interactions just like this from individuals who never saw the warning signs or knew that their loved ones were struggling with thoughts of suicide.

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Many new mothers experience a strong learning curve with regard to breastfeeding. It can take two or three weeks for a mother to truly learn the ropes. Some mothers may even think it is more cost-effective, convenient, and less invasive to bottle-feed their babies instead of breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding poses several lifelong benefits not only for the child but also for the mother. Jessica Donahue, RN, international board-certified lactation specialist at Baptist Health Women's and Children's Center, has spent the last 25 years teaching mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding and dispelling the myths many mothers have about feeding their newborns.

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In the heart of Little Rock, ACCESS stands as a support system for individuals with learning and developmental disabilities. Through a unique, person-centered approach, ACCESS focuses on the genuine connections and opportunities that pave the way for children and young adults to thrive and develop a sense of belonging within their community. Krysten Levin, the Marketing Manager for ACCESS, has seen the authentic strategies that set ACCESS apart, dispelling stigmas and helping individuals meet their long-term goals so they can learn to become independent and be proud of who they are.

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When the shades of stigma often overshadow advancements in medical science, we must embrace new treatments and tools that make our lives and our patients’ lives easier. Following our exploration of the stigma surrounding sickle cell disease, we will shed light on what is quickly emerging as a game-changer treatment option for sickle cell disease: gene therapy. Dr. Sunny Singh, oncologist and hematologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, is excited about the bright future for gene therapy.

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More and more health care professionals are beginning to understand the importance of addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact on an individual’s health and well-being. To promote community engagement and knowledge of ACEs and resilience, AFMC has hosted an ACEs & Resilience Summit every year for the last seven years. This year’s summit theme was the power of belonging. In case you were not able to attend this year’s Summit, here is a brief recap of the enlightening presentations, thought-provoking discussions, and practical strategies shared during this impactful event.

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Chris Hughes

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See our latest articles in the Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society.

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