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April is Child Abuse Prevention month. The most common type of maltreatment is neglect. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including all types of abuse and neglect, have increasingly become a high priority in the health care industry. Individuals with ACEs have been known to develop chronic illnesses later in life. Further research suggests that females with IBS suffer from comorbid mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. Could addressing ACEs help prevent patients from developing IBS, and other anxiety-induced disorders later in life?

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AFMC would like to send our condolences and support to all those affected by the tornado on March 31. We understand that it can be hard to navigate a plethora of resources and support services throughout central Arkansas. To ease the search for resources and relief, we have created a list of local resources in the central Arkansas area you and your loved ones can use to seek shelter, supplies, and support.

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With the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ending in May, there are bound to be some people who no longer think it is essential to continue getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Some experts think the COVID vaccine will become a yearly shot, like the flu shot. AFMC’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) educate Arkansas patients and providers on important vaccination updates and safety protocols. They’re preparing for a changing conversation about vaccination post-PHE. It’s imperative that, no matter what happens, efforts to educate and promote vaccination continue, even for those who are the most adamant about not getting shots.

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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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