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On May 11, 2023, the federal public health emergency (PHE) will come to an end. While COVID-19 is still a public health priority, the U.S. is in a much better spot with COVID-19 cases today than we were three years ago. A recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report shows that daily reported COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are all down by at least 80%. These numbers indicate a need to scale back some aspects of the U.S. response to the PHE. With this reduction will come some changes to reimbursement, insurance coverage, and the overall impact of telehealth. Ryan Kelly, Executive Director for the Mississippi Rural Health Association, recently went on AFMC TV to discuss the state of telehealth and how providers can continue to utilize telehealth after the PHE ends in May.

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March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Many people under 55 don’t have colonoscopies or rectal exams on their radar. The truth is, they should. Doctors across the U.S. have reported seeing younger patients with advanced colorectal cancer more often. According to the American Cancer Society’s latest colorectal cancer report, 1 in 5 new cases are among those in their early 50s or younger. The report also revealed that colorectal cases among adults under 55 increased from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019. These numbers have caused researchers at Yale University to encourage people as young as 20 to be aware of the warning signs and to talk to their doctor if they recognize changes in their bowel movements or other suspicious symptoms. There’s a shift occurring in colorectal cancer diagnoses. The question is, are patients and providers aware of the shift?

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Due to the pandemic, well-child visits and vaccine acceptance rates for children have declined in the past three years. Rural communities are seeing even lower rates due to a lack of access to health care. Some providers, like Dr. Ladell Douglas from a recent AFMC TV episode, have extended their hours of operation to 7 p.m. to allow parents to schedule appointments after work. Others, like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have encouraged pediatricians to change how they speak to patients about child and adolescent vaccinations. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has even proposed EHR messaging to send to patients who have missed well-child visits. Regardless of the method, what’s important is to think about changes you can make with your care team to lessen pediatric care gaps.
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While many providers may be familiar with the American Red Cross's involvement in blood donations nationwide (they collect 40% of the nation's blood supply), providers may not realize that American Red Cross needs volunteers with health care experience to assist the community in disaster relief efforts. Red Cross responds to nearly 60,000 disasters every year, most of which are residential house fires. While these may not garner the same attention as a more large-scale disaster, house fires still have a huge emotional impact on the people who experience them. Health care providers, especially mental health providers, can play a critical role in assisting people with finding the mental health resources they need to recover from a disaster, particularly when it results in a fatality. Lori Arnold-Ellis, Executive Director at American Red Cross, recently went on AFMC TV to discuss how providers can get more involved.

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Rounding out our series on health care pioneers for Black History Month, we are talking about Edith Irby Jones, the first Black student to attend and graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School (now UAMS) in Little Rock. Jones was a proponent of desegregation of higher education in the south and an excellent doctor, educator, and philanthropist in Arkansas.

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Lena Lowe Jordan, a Black registered nurse and hospital administrator, positively impacted the Arkansas health care system. She managed two hospitals and a program for aspiring practical nurses. Her status as a health care hero comes from her lifetime commitment to serving the Black community of Arkansas to the best of her ability.

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