Menu

Blue supplies the green that will lead to better rural health care

We are thrilled that our Rural Health Summit is one of 31 projects selected for funding by the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas this year. Established by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 2001, the Foundation is a separate nonprofit with the sole mission of funding projects in Arkansas that will improve health care in the state. The funding support from Blue & You allows us to keep participant costs low and bring in outside experts to make the most of our time with our participants. 

The initial planning for the Summit began with discussions about rural health care needs in Arkansas with Dr. Mark T. Jansen, director of regional programming at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and invested chair for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, George K. Mitchell, M.D., Endowed Chair in Primary Care. That conversation expanded to include other health care leaders who have a stake in raising the quality and availability of health care in rural areas. These leaders all supported creating a network of cross-collaboration among the many efforts currently operating in rural Arkansas and looking at manageable, short-term goals to address during the next year to two years. It is our belief that establishing such a network will be an important step toward creating a rural health care environment that will be more attractive to new physicians and foster an increase in quality care.

Near the end of March we will host the first Summit meeting to begin building that collaborative network of healthcare professionals and organizations. We’ll be joined by representatives of some of the state’s leading health groups and professional organizations for a facilitated two-day session to start the process, followed by regional visits and a larger Summit meeting later in the year. Our hope is to foster increased collaboration and resource sharing so that innovative health care solutions can be shared more readily in the state and incoming physicians will have established allies at all points of rural healthcare. 

We are extremely grateful to the Blue & You Foundation for their support. Above and beyond the monetary contribution, their backing of our effort and the 30 other recipients this year represents a belief that we will all be able to make a tangible difference in the state. Carrying that charge and that belief into our working sessions will further underscore the importance of coming together and empower our group to start tackling the challenges facing rural health.

More

Rural Health Day highlights state's needs, those working to meet them

Happy National Rural Health Day! Today, November 17, 2016, is the first official Rural Health Day in Arkansas, recognized by a recent proclamation from Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Organized nationally by the National Organization of State Rural Health Offices, the third Thursday of every November is set aside to recognize the work done in rural communities by health officials across the nation.

With countless acres of farmland, the Delta, friendly small towns and close-knit communities, Arkansas knows rural. In fact, while the national average for rural populations was 19% in 2010, Arkansas averaged 44%, according to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Rural Profile of Arkansas - 2015. And while rural communities are great places to live and work, they present unique challenges for health care. Both rural and urban care centers in the state look to improve the quality and access of care for the people they serve, but in rural areas that often extends to transportation concerns, telecommunications support and a dearth of physical spaces to receive care. According to the Rural Profile, there are an average of 64.5 primary care physicians per 100,000 people in rural Arkansas compared to 139 physicians per 100,000 people in urban areas.   

Recognizing those challenges to rural health care is an important part of Rural Health Day, especially in our state where if you don’t personally live in a rural area, odds are that a family member or loved one does. Equally important, however, is to recognize and appreciate the continued efforts to improve rural health care in the state and address those challenges head on. In Arkansas, that includes the Arkansas Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. Beyond leading the charge to officially recognize Rural Health Day in the state, the ORHPC is involved with administering state health care grant programs to rural areas in need, developing training programs for continuing education specific to rural areas, supporting  the development of community-based health centers and much more.

The Arkansas Department of Health and the ORHPC share the goal of improved rural health care with many organizations across the state, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Hospital Association, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Arkansas Minority Health Commission, Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, multiple faith-based groups and countless other organizations. So while the challenges are many, so are the helping hands.

We look forward to working with these and other organizations on a Rural Health Summit in 2017. We’ll have more to share about the summit in this space as it draws closer.

In the meantime, to learn more about Rural Health Day and national rural health concerns and efforts, you can visit this page on the National Organization of State Rural Health Offices site. To learn more about what is going on locally, the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care-produced State Rural Health Plan 2015-2020 is a good place to start. Above all else, take a moment to recognize the many health care issues faced by rural communities, celebrate the progress made so far and appreciate the tireless efforts by so many groups to make sure our rural neighbors receive the health care and support they deserve.      

More

Fair play

A trip to the playground — hurtling down the rocket slide, soaring on the swing set, making yourself dizzy on the merry-go-round. For children in America, it’s a quintessential part of childhood, right? Right up there with refusing to eat your peas. The experience builds social bonds, encourages creativity and, of course, provides an exhilarating outlet for fun.

I’ll bet there is a good chance just reading those words conjured up one of your own playground memories — maybe a recent trip with your children or a recollection from your own childhood.

Some children, however, face challenges — through no fault of their own or of their parents — that make a traditionally designed playground something much less than a pursuit of unbridled enthusiasm. For example, children with disabilities or mobility impairments may be excluded because of accessibility or equipment issues. Or, perhaps, they have a parent or guardian who is confined to a wheelchair. These children not only lose the fun and social experiences that playgrounds bring, they miss the physical and mental health benefits that an active lifestyle provides.

The city of Bryant is hoping to remove those barriers, so that all of its citizens will be able to use the playground and take their children to the playground. In 2017, they plan to commence construction of a new universally designed, fully inclusive playground at Wilbur D. Mills Park — an 80-acre city park originally built in the early 1970s. The current equipment will be replaced with inclusive equipment that will allow all children to play and interact together (the current equipment, incidentally, will be repurposed in another park that doesn’t have a playground).

Renderings of new playground equipment at Mills Park

“Mills Park is a very important and historical park for Bryant,” Mayor Jill Dabbs said. “It’s filled with people every day and functions the way you want a park to function. So, it is already a healthy, active park … and it makes sense to invest in it and put this playground there.”

The project is far more than adding wheelchair access points to an existing playground. So, you may ask, how does a playground that is universally inclusive differ from a playground that is accessible? Well, Inspiring Play magazine describes it thusly: “An inclusive playground takes into account not just the physical equipment and tactics … it embraces the philosophy that children and adults of ALL abilities benefit immensely from being able to play and interact together. These types of playgrounds take into account children with physical disabilities as well as special needs or developmental disabilities.”

For example, the inclusive playground at Mills Park will be broken into three stations organized by age group. At each station, there will be playground equipment with ramps that allow access to everyone — including children, or their guardians, in wheelchairs.

“What that means is, (anyone) that is bound to a wheelchair will have the ability to enter and exit the playground equipment without ever having to leave that chair, unless they want to (to use the slide for example),” said Spencer McCorkel, assistant director of parks for the City of Bryant. “And that’s the point. This playground will accommodate any person from start to finish.”

Bryant’s commitment to providing a public space for all children to be active also coincides with the objectives of Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA). The statewide, 10-year framework – which Dabbs helped shape through her participation in planning summits put on by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute – launched in 2015 and was designed to improve nutrition, reduce obesity and other health issues, and broadly encourage and enable healthier lifestyles in Arkansas. Specifically, one of the nine priority areas that make up the HAA framework, Physical and Built Environment, urges stakeholders “to create livable places that improve mobility, availability and access within the community where they live, work and play.”

Casey Covington of Metroplan is the team lead for HAA’s Physical and Built Environment priority area. He recently praised Bryant’s commitment to this inclusive playground.

“We want to make sure that all our kids, including those with disabilities, have a place where they can be physically active while also reaping the social benefits that public spaces offer,” he said. “If someone is active at an early age, then their chances of maintaining an active lifestyle is significantly better.”

Parks Director Chris Treat said that depending on the amount of funding available at the start of the project, the city is hoping to complete the project in one phase by the end of 2017 — although he said they are prepared to phase it in over time, if necessary.

The city is still in the planning and fundraising stages for the new playground equipment, with part of the funding coming from reissued bonds. Of the $4 million designated to the Parks Department, $300,000 has been earmarked for the renovations at Mills Park. The total cost of the renovation is projected at $786,000, with the remainder to be raised through fundraising efforts with the assistance of the nonprofit Friends for Inclusive Parks (Everett Buick GMC in Bryant, for example, has already pledged $10,000). The city is also hopeful they will receive an additional $250,000 in grant funding.

The project has been in the works for approximately two years since the city was approached by community members such as Erin Gildner with Friends for Inclusive Parks. Dabbs says she is not aware of another park of this scale anywhere in the central Arkansas area, but that’s not what she will be most proud of when this project comes to fruition.

“The reason this opportunity is available is not because the local government said this is important, but because the people said it’s important, and that is when you get the best projects,” she said. “This particular project just encourages more activity in an already-active place, and it will be a park that people from all over the state will come and visit — a place that parents can seek out to have that normal playground experience, regardless of their child’s abilities.

“I think when people — no matter what their abilities are — are given the opportunity to become their best person, it benefits them and their communities long term in every way.”

More

Becoming baby-friendly

In an effort to improve mother/infant bonding, a handful of hospitals in Arkansas are adopting the Baby-Friendly hospital initiative.

You might be thinking, “Well, isn’t it a given that all hospitals would be baby friendly?”

I had that thought as well until I learned the meaning behind the effort. And it’s a touching one.

First, it’s important to understand the Healthy Active Arkansas initiative, of which the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is a partner. The collaborative includes many leaders across the state to promote wellness and help fight obesity in the state, explains Juli McWhorter, chief nursing officer at Northwest Medical Center-Willow Creek Women’s Hospital.

“Promotion of breastfeeding is one of the major initiatives,” she says. “It is a very big deal for this collaborative, and they are so excited for us and the state of Arkansas.”

Willow Creek was the first hospital in the state to achieve national accolades for this breastfeeding initiative.

“We have always been ‘Baby-Friendly,’” says Sharif Omar, CEO of Northwest Health. “This designation simply affirms our commitment to the safest and highest quality care for our newborns and moms at both of the Northwest Health hospitals since Willow Creek was the first to receive this recognition a few months ago. We were thrilled when Willow Creek was the first hospital in Arkansas and are even more elated now that our second facility, Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville, is the second in the state.”

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to a news release. The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

The Northwest Medical Center news release points out that there are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals worldwide and only 364 active Baby-Friendly centers in the United States.

The BFHI assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

The designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. It is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

From a nurse’s standpoint, McWhorter says this effort helps improve mother-infant bonding by initiating the practice skin-to-skin contact.

“The World Health Organization recommends newborns spend the first hour of life in a skin-to-skin contact,” she says.

Benefits of this practice include better thermoregulation in the infant, decreased respiratory rate, blood glucose control, greater infant comfort and less infant crying. This practice also improves breastfeeding outcomes, McWhorter notes.

In turn, the relationship between health provider and patient or new mothers is improved as well.

“We’re promoting patient/family-centered care by allowing mothers and infants to remain together immediately after birth regardless of type of delivery,” McWhorter says.

“This helps support the mother in establishing breastfeeding through education and we’re offering breastfeeding support after discharge through outpatient visits and breastfeeding support groups.”

Overall, “we hope to improve mother and infant bonding and to improve patient outcomes by educating mothers of the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and her newborn.”

Baptist Health is another hospital that is going baby-friendly. Jessiaca Donahue is an RN IBCLC Certified Lactation consultant at the Little Rock medical center. She is also the breastfeeding team lead for Healthy Active Arkansas. She explains that mothers who deliver their baby in a baby-friendly facility can be assured that all policies and procedures in place will support their feeding choice and that all staff is on board to help her be successful. 

“Becoming a baby-friendly facility is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding,” Donahue says.

“It compels facilities to examine, challenge and modify longstanding policies and procedures. It requires training and skill building among all levels of staff. It entails implementing audit processes to assure quality in all aspects of maternity care operations. The journey is exciting, challenging and worth it. It creates opportunities to develop high performance work teams and build leadership skills among staff, promotes employee pride, enhances patient satisfaction and improves health outcomes.”

At Baptist, there is Baby Friendly Committee in place, Donahue adds. It is on track to be awarded the Baby-Friendly certification by next year. Feedback, ideas and comments are welcome, she says. Contact her at 501.202.7378 or Jessica.donahue@baptist-health.org for more information. You can also keep up with Baptist Health on Facebook for the latest developments.

More

Fresh2You brings healthy produce to urban food deserts

From health care to personal services, the world becomes increasingly more mobile every day. Food is no exception. With the rise of farmers markets and the push to provide healthy options for everyone despite income level, many key players have joined forces in Little Rock to bring farm fresh produce to those in need.

And talk about putting an old city bus to good use. Once relegated to public transportation, a Little Rock municipal bus has been turned into a mobile farmers market. The “Fresh2You” bus can hardly be missed with its vibrant wrap of produce images.

The bus was parked at 19th and Arch streets in downtown Little Rock last week as a trial run before the initiative officially kicks off on Tuesday. Parked by Parris Towers – a public housing community – the bus was filled with produce provided by Raising Arkansas, a minority farmers collective.

The daily specials included sweet corn, three for a $1; sweet potatoes, $.50 per pound; tomatoes, $1 per pound; and blueberries, $2 per pound.

Alex Handfinger and Maggie Peach

Next to the bus was a tent featuring Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s Cooking Matters program. Representatives Alex Handfinger and Maggie Peach happily offered cantaloupe samples to passersby.

“We’re all working together to help people access healthy food,” said Tomiko Townley with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. She helps people throughout the state realize their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. “Food stamps” is the former term for SNAP.

The Fresh2You initiative accepts SNAP dollars, Townley said.

Increasing access to healthy foods is a key priority of both the Alliance and Healthy Active Arkansas, a statewide initiative endorsed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson that is designed to improve the health of all Arkansans. The initiative is divided into nine priority areas, each having two-, five- and 10-year goals.

Alliance Executive Director Kathy Webb serves as the co-team lead for one of Healthy Active Arkansas’ priority areas: Access to Healthy Foods.

“The Fresh2You mobile farmers market helps us meet four of our goals within the Access to Healthy Foods priority area,” Webb said.

The Fresh2You bus represents a partnership between the Alliance, the City of Little Rock, Raising Arkansas, Mosaic Church, the Blue and You Foundation and Rock Region Metro.

“It’s a great public/private partnership,” Webb said.

Johnny Pettis

Inside the bus last week was Johnny Pitts, founder of Raising Arkansas.

“Our goal is to help local growers and build them up,” he said.

The organization operates a year-round farm in Sheridan and works all over the state to reach out to farmers, Pitts said.

“We’re working on establishing a new food chain and getting farmers to work together.”

Pitts is more than ready to continue working with this initiative. The plan is to park the bus on given days to provide produce and help promote the hunger alliance’s Cooking Matters program.

The six-week course is free and held at different locations in partnership with different organizations, said Lynne Phillips, development director for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

“We’re teaching people how to shop and cook healthily on a budget,” she said, pointing to the featured menu cards.

The Fresh2You bus will be parked at Parris Towers every Tuesday and at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center on Saturdays. A hope is to one day serve the housing authority downtown, Townley said.

A press conference will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday to officially launch the mobile farmers market, followed by the market opening at 10.

More

To explain this a little better ...

When Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched the Healthy Active Arkansas plan from the State Capitol on Oct. 14, I was in the back of the room. Behind all of the media. As various reporters asked their questions about the plan, which was designed to promote healthier lifestyles among all Arkansans, I tried to put myself in their shoes.

The Institute - along with other groups like the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health - has been actively involved in the creation and dissemination of the plan for several years now, so I’ve had a front-row seat to the development of each focus area, each recommendation, each statistic. But if I was being introduced to the plan with no prior context, how would I digest all of the information it holds?

The truth is, it’d be difficult to wrap my mind around it just by sitting and reading through the plan. The Arkansas Department of Health understands that. And they’re doing something about it.

From 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 4, ADH is hosting an orientation meeting designed to give fuller explanations of each of Healthy Active Arkansas’ nine focus areas. Those focus areas are:

  • Physical and built environment
  • Nutritional standards in government, institutions and the private sector
  • Nutritional standards in schools – early child care through college
  • Physical education and activity in schools – early child care through college
  • Healthy worksites
  • Access to healthy foods
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage reduction
  • Breastfeeding
  • Marketing program

The orientation meeting is open to all who are interested in learning more about the plan, especially those who are looking for ways to get involved in helping meet the plan’s two-, five- and 10-year goals.

To reserve a seat (it’s free), email Marisha DiCarlo, director of the Office of Health Communications for ADH, at Marisha.DiCarlo@arkansas.gov. The meeting will take place in the Health Department’s auditorium, located at their headquarters at 4815 W. Markham St. in Little Rock.

Since we launched the plan back in October, project leads have been identified for each of the nine focus areas. At the orientation meeting, these individuals (including me, talking about the marketing program) will each speak briefly about their specific area, their immediate goals and how others can get involved.

There’s a lot at stake here. It’s no secret that Arkansas ranks near the bottom when the states are assessed for health care outcomes. In 2014, we had the highest rate of adult obesity, and we don’t fare too well on things like diabetes and hypertension, either.

Healthy Active Arkansas is a blueprint for how we can start changing those trends. That means saving lives. It means adding quality of life to people who currently have no hope. It means kids performing better in schools and employees performing better at work (healthy people = better students and more productive workforce). It means making our state a better place to live, which in turn will attract more business here, creating more and better opportunities for Arkansans.

So I invite you to join me on Feb. 4 at the Health Department. I’d encourage you to brush up on the Healthy Active Arkansas plan before you come. You can download a free copy at www.healthyactive.org.

More

Lessons from a Nobel Laureate

Sir Harold Kroto, who received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, delivered the keynote address and a Q&A with students at the Sixth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference in December 2015. Great insights from a great man of science.

 

Sir Harold Kroto Keynote 12-2-15

 

Sir Harold Kroto Q&A at Sixth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference

More

Visions of nanoparticles dancing in my head

Nanoparticles dancing with cells in the brain. That was my scientific takeaway from the Fifth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference, held in April 2014.

As we gear up this week to host the Sixth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference, I’m reminded of that image, planted in my memory by Dr. Elena Batrakova, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It was during a reception last April that Batrakova was telling me and our executive director, Dr. Marta Loyd, about the nature of her research.

“So tell me, Dr. Batrakova, what’s the end goal of your research,” Loyd said.

Batrakova answered matter-of-factly in her rich Russian accent, “We hope to find better ways to treat and even reverse the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”

So her research could change the world.

My mind was blown. Hers was at ease as she went on to describe the challenges in treating illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, those that affect the brain.

According to an article on Batrakova’s work by David Etchison, “Getting drugs into the brain is extremely difficult in general because it is protected and isolated from the rest of the body by the blood-brain barrier, which is extremely selective about what is allowed to pass through.”

The approach of Batrakova’s research, as Etchison describes it, is to load nanoparticles into macrophages—a type of white blood cell—which are able to bypass the blood-brain barrier. Another delivery method is to load the nanoparticles into exosomes—tiny bubbles of protein and fat produced naturally by cells, as Etchison describes them—that have been isolated from macrophages and deliver those through the blood-brain barrier. Batrakova’s description of the bypass was delightful.

“It’s like the macrophages and the cells of the blood-brain barrier are dancing,” she said, beaming.

Her use of visuals made it easy for us laymen to understand the nature of her work. In essence, the cells she injects with medicine to treat Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s function as sort of a Trojan horse. This has revolutionary implications for the medical field. And the gravity of the work is not lost on Batrakova.

“Every time we (she and her team) publish our next research paper, I receive hundreds of emails and calls from patients, from their relatives,” she said during a recent interview. “It’s so encouraging because they just ask ‘when, how?’

“I feel how important this research is.”

Batrakova presented on her research at the last Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference. Since then, she has collaborated with several scientists she met during her brief visit to Petit Jean Mountain. We take a lot of pride in identifying and convening leaders in science, policy, business and other fields, and we love hearing that the connections they make here have lasting effects in their work.

This year, we have an equally impressive lineup of speakers, including Sir Harold Kroto, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 for his discovery of fullerenes.

I’ll be the first to admit that most of the science discussed at our conference is well beyond my capacity for understanding. But that image of cells doing a two-step with nanoparticles brings it home for me. What research will I learn about this week that could someday change the world? I can’t wait to find out.

More

Governor launches Healthy Active Arkansas

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched a statewide plan yesterday to improve the health of all Arkansans. The plan, titled Healthy Active Arkansas, contains nine focus areas all tied to increasing the health of Arkansans through healthy dietary choices and increased physical activity.

Healthy Active Arkansas press conference (click image to watch)

Gov. Hutchinson launches Healthy Active Arkansas

The nine focus areas are:

  • Physical and Built Environment
  • Nutritional Standards in Government, Institutions and the Private Sector
  • Nutritional Standards in Schools—Early Child Care Through College
  • Physical Education and Activity in Schools—Early Child Care Through College
  • Healthy Worksites
  • Access to Healthy Foods
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction
  • Breastfeeding
  • Marketing Program

The priority areas listed in the plan are modeled after Institute of Medicine goals outlined in their 2012 report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Preventions: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Each priority area outlines two-, five-, and 10-year goals to facilitate achievable successes in obtaining a healthier Arkansas. 

“Healthy Active Arkansas is about the future of our state. We want to create a state where all Arkansans can lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.” — Gov. Asa Hutchinson

The plan was developed via a series of facilitated discussions at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and included leaders in the field. It provides a framework of research-based strategies to guide community efforts to reduce obesity—a major factor in improving health. These are accompanied by recommendations for efforts that must be orchestrated on the state level.

The Healthy Active Arkansas plan is meant to be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses, education centers, religious organizations, restaurants, city planners and more. 

To read or download the full plan, visit the Healthy Active Arkansas website.

More

Health roundup: lasers, conferences and Arkansas' growing problem

A quick rundown of recent health-related news with ties to the Institute:

Dr. Vladimir Zharov (pictured above on the left), a renowned researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was recently awarded a $1.7 million grant by the National Cancer Institute for his work in using lasers to detect and destroy melanomas without damaging normal tissue cells. Zharov served as co-chair of the Fifth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference, which was held here at the Institute in April 2014. Read more about the grant and Dr. Zharov’s work here.

***

Back in May, the Institute collaborated with UAMS to bring the Conference On Normal Tissue Radiation Effects and Countermeasures (CONTREC) to Petit Jean Mountain. Led by Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on radiation injury research, CONTREC attracted scientists from all over the world. Many of those same scientists may soon travel to San Antonio, Texas, for the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) conference.

ASTRO is a radiation oncology (study of cancer) membership organization comprising more than 10,500 doctors, nurses, biologists, medical physicists and others who work to treat cancer.

Before having the privilege of working with Dr. Hauer-Jensen, we honestly didn’t think much about radiation unless someone we knew happened to be receiving it as treatment for cancer. Even then, we didn’t think about all of the effects of radiation for the patient and all that goes into it for the health care provider. ASTRO exists to address both of these viewpoints to ensure scientists and practitioners have the best education and tools at their disposal and that the patients are receiving the best possible care and are ensured the best chance of survival.

ASTRO’s annual meeting will be held Oct. 18-21.

***

And finally a bit of bad news. Various outlets recently reported on The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report lists Arkansas as having the highest rate of obesity in adults in the United States at 35.9 percent. Right on our heels are West Virginia at 35.7 percent and Mississippi at 35.5 percent.

The Institute has been working for more than two years with the state’s top health care leaders and advocates for reducing obesity rates, including the State Health Department, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, UAMS and the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention. The result of our collaboration will be a plan to improve overall health and reduce obesity rates by setting strategies to help people eat healthier and be more active. Watch for updates on this initiative in the coming weeks and months.

 

More