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Homelessness

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

Did you know that homelessness affects 564,708 people every night in the United States? The National Alliance to End Homelessness outlines that many homeless people and families need resources and assistance to help them get back on their feet. Much of the population that is categorized as “homeless” are able to recover from their situation with a helping hand.

If you or someone you know need shelter or other services, the following link can be used to find shelters and services near Richardson and the surrounding area: http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=Richardson&state=TX

If you are not struggling with homelessness, please consider volunteering your time in order to help these individuals and families continue to use the resources and services provided by organizations.  Your time may just be the little extra help someone else needs.

Stressed about Finals?

Feeling stressed about finals, upcoming holidays, or living in such close quarters with your peers? Did you know that the UTD Student Counseling Center offers counseling sessions free of charge to current UTD students? To learn more about their available counseling sessions or to set up an intake appointment, please visit http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/services/

Test anxiety and stress are usually running high around final exam time, and this year is no exception. There are methods to help relieve the tension for many students. The Student Counseling Center also offers self-help guides to these topics.

For tips to alleviate test anxiety, refer to http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/testanxiety/

Information on stress management can be found at http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/stress/

Let’s have a great conclusion to this semester, Comets!

**If you have suicidal thoughts or intent for self-harm, please call the Crisis Helpline at 972-UTD-TALK (972-883-8255) to speak with a healthcare professional.

Transgender Healthcare

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

Many Americans have health disparities due to barriers in access to competent, quality care. Additionally, some citizens are turned away at the door of medical practices when they do try to access care. Unfortunately, the 700,000 members of the transgender community in the United States are part of that stigmatized group. Of this population, 7500 transgender people live in the DFW area.

Transgender people have many of the same healthcare needs as their cis gender counterparts, but they also have disparities and different rates of diseases and medical conditions present in their population. For example, 40% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth have either attempted or seriously contemplated suicide. Additionally, transgender people are at increased risk for STIs including HIV and physical abuse.

The Affordable Care Act formally banned sex and gender based discrimination in healthcare facilities that receive federal funding, however problems still exist in regards to transgender people. This population still suffers with difficulty obtaining healthcare, health provider insensitivity, and even insurance plans still having exclusionary plans for transgender related care. Many members of the transgender community anticipate being met with uncertainty, especially because care for this population is often excluded from a physician’s medical training. Additionally, some providers are uncomfortable with transgender populations due to bias, ignorance, or a lack of exposure or education of proper clinical interactions. A study titled “Transgender Stigma and Health: A Critical Review of Stigma Determinants, Mechanisms, and Interventions” revealed derogatory comments and discriminatory care of LGBT patients. Additionally, 28% of Transgender patients had experienced harassment in medical settings, 19% were refused care, and 2% experienced violence in their doctor’s office.” Due to this refusal for care, stigma, and discrimination, many transgender individuals seek care on the black market or forego care entirely. This stigma works directly to induce stress and indirectly by restricting access to health protective resources.

Ways to provide competent care include asking patients their preferred name and pronoun, posting non-discrimination policies, ensuring confidentiality, and offering sensitivity training for staff. These are all steps that signal acceptance and let patients know that they will be treated with dignity. Other clinical office means to display that a facility is able/open to providing care to this population include hanging posters, putting out brochures and flyers, and spreading by word of mouth that we offer care to people who identify as transgender. While note every clinic in the DFW area is going to provide the best resources for a transgender patient, there are some resources available to this population. Organizations such as the Resource Center, North Texas Gender Friends (NTGF), Trans-Cendence International, and Transmigration all provide support and social networks for the transgender community.

 

Sources:

Aguilera, Jasmine. “Transgender people face maze of difficulties with health insurance, doctors: Healthy Living.” Dallas News. N.p., 04 June 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

“End healthcare discrimination for transgender people.” GLAAD. GLAAD, 11 July 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

Gupta, Sarika, Katherine L. Imborek, and Matthew D. Krasowski. “Challenges in Transgender Healthcare: The Pathology Perspective.” Laboratory Medicine 47.3  (2016): 180-88. Oxford Academic. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Kelley, Leah, Calvin L. Chou, Suzanne L. Dibble, and Patricia A. Robertson. “A Critical Intervention in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health: Knowledge and Attitude Outcomes Among Second-Year Medical Students.” Teaching and Learning in Medicine, vol. 20, no. 3, 2008, pp. 248-53. Web. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

Lee, R. “Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients.” Western Journal of Medicine 172.6 (2000): 403-08. Web.

Lombardi,E. “Enhancing Transgender Health Care.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 91, no. 6, 2001, pp.869-672. NCBI.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446458/pdf/11392924.pdf Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Thapoung, K. “The Transgender Community by the Numbers.” Marie Claire. 28 July 2015. http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/g3065/transgender-facts-figures/

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Ob-Gyns: Prepare to Treat Transgender Patients.” Obstetricians and Gynecologists, vol. 205, no. 6, 2011. http://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/News-Room/News-Releases/2011/Ob-Gyns-Prepare-to-Treat-Transgender-Patients?IsMobileSet=false . Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“Texas judge halts federal transgender health protections.” Dallas News. The Dallas Morning News, 31 Dec. 2016. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

White Hughto, J.M., Reisner, S.L., & Pachankis, J.E. “Transgender Stigma and Health: A Critical Review of Stigma Determinants, Mechanisms, and Interventions.” Soc Sci Med, vol. 147, 2015, pp.222-231. HHS Public Access. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.11.010. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Changing Avenue of Healthcare

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

With the change in office from a Democratic Party to a Republican Party representative, the outlook of healthcare in the coming years is undoubtedly going to change. The Affordable Care Act, one of former President Obama’s most controversial legacies. President Trump has proposed a number of changes to the nation’s healthcare system, including a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Although we are unsure of President Trump’s timeline, he has clearly made it his goal to tackle the healthcare system as quickly as possible. Promptly following his inauguration, he signed an executive order against the aptly named Obamacare system. According to New York Times, the order “gave federal agencies wide latitude to change, delay or waive provisions of the law that they deemed overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states.” Trump has made it clear that the changes he hopes to instill in his new healthcare plan will be intended to improve the access and quality of our healthcare system while simultaneously reducing the cost of care. Additionally, there are plans to change the parameters of Medicaid access and distribution.  Along with these changes, it would not be out of line to predict changes in budgeting and an increase in the use of privatized healthcare components as a means to supplement the system. However, these possible proposals have yet to be seen as a formal proposal set forth by the legislative branch. Presumably, these matters will be addressed with the revised healthcare bill currently in the hands of the House of Representatives.  Overall, the plan will undoubtedly instigate many changes. The Washington Post outlines that Trump plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act simultaneously. By keeping these actions close together on the timeline of change, the hope is that citizens are able to smoothly transition between the two systems, bypassing a period without insurance.

Further compounding the healthcare climate is access to care outside of the financial realm. The need for physicians and quality care in a wide area of specialties has long been a point of contention among experts and lay folk alike. According to CNN, “A new analysis commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted a doctor deficit of 40,800 to 104,900 by 2030.”  This is countered by other healthcare experts that claim there is no shortage of doctors. Rather, the physicians we do have are unevenly distributed throughout the nation and across various specialties. A consensus between both camps is clearly outlined by CNN, which states that “the problem of access is interpreted on one side as partly a lack of physicians; on the other, it is purely a systemic problem — one caused by inefficiency and waste, poor distribution of resources, a lack of transparency and the accumulation of unnecessary care and costs.”

The changes in the healthcare system are compounded by the integral problems that have been in place since long before the residency cap set in1997. Neither the pre-existing system established before Former President Obama’s passage of Affordable Care Act or the Affordable Care Act itself have been able to redistribute the medical care throughout the country or provide adequate numbers of doctors in critical fields. Many people disagree with the plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act because it will negatively impact many people’s access to care. However, the changes that will be established have yet to fully come to light. Today, March 20, 2017, the US House of Representatives will submit their changes to the current healthcare bill (CNBC). This early in his term, President Trump’s legacy in the healthcare system has yet to be determined. Let us hope that medical care will continue to be an important political issue, because it is clear we are a long way from finding a happy medium.

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/11/17/the-ultimate-qa-about-health-care-under-president-trump/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/upshot/what-does-the-order-against-the-health-law-actually-do.html?_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/us/politics/trump-executive-order-obamacare.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/13/health/train-more-doctors-residency/index.html

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/20/house-republicans-to-release-healthcare-bill-changes.html

 

Comet Cupboard for Hungry Students

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

College students often run into financial difficulty. According to study performed by Ohio State University, 70 percent of college students have monetary problems. While this study focused on the impact of loans and monthly expenses as a whole, living on a tight budget can have very real implications on a financially-stretched student’s daily life.

Here at UTD, there is a resource available to students who are in a bind and need a little assistance to help them get to their next pay day or toward a better financial situation. The Comet Cupboard is a food pantry that runs off of the monetary and itemized donations from students, staff, and members of the community. It offers nonperishable food and personal care items to all students free of charge. This service can be used twice a week to help our classmates, peers, or even ourselves make ends’ meet.

The Comet Cupboard is located in MC 1.604, in the basement of the McDermott Library, and it is open to students Monday-Friday from 12pm-6pm during the regular academic session.

 

To make a donation, Comet Cupboard has drop off locations throughout campus:

Multicultural Center, Student Services Building SSB 2.400

Office of Stem & Research, Founders Building FO 3.118 (Drop Box outside of office)

Information Resources, ROC (Main hallway of second floor)

Comet Cupboard, McDermott Library MC 1.604 (Drop box outside of Comet Cupboard)

Comet Cupboard Office MC 1.302 (SSC Suite)

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

The New “Great Pea Souper”

Submitted by Tristan Dorn

Are you concerned about air pollution? Many Texas natives are familiar with the concept of an “ozone level” which tracks the amount of ground level ozone. We are familiar with spending recess inside during our days in grade school because it was an “ozone day.” According to Ozoneaware.org, ozone at ground level is a type of pollutant that results from heat and emissions, and it can cause difficulty breathing or exacerbate respiratory symptoms. This familiar circumstance is not the only component of air pollution. Additionally, the battle against consequences of pollution is not a new war.

In fact, on December 4, 1952, London became covered in deadly smog, known as a “pea souper,” for 4 days. The air was so dense that visibility was significantly reduced and the sun was almost completely blocked out by the dense, dark air. People couldn’t see their feet when they walked and public transportation was forced to halt due to the dangerous conditions. During this time an estimate of 4,000 to 12,000 people died as a result of air pollution and respiratory symptoms caused by the smog. This prompted the passing of the Clean Air Act of 1956 by the Parliament in London, which created restrictions and guidelines regarding coal use and pollutant emissions within the city.

However, managing air pollution continues to be a mainstay issue among many political circles. On January 23, 2017, London released its first “very high” pollution warning throughout the city. Despite the efforts of the Clean Air act established more than 60 years ago. According to CNN, many countries, such as China, Russia, and India also continue to struggle with pollution. A study performed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that “outdoor air pollution could cost the world a whopping $2.6 trillion a year, or 1% of the global GDP, by 2060.”

While these economic costs are staggering, the estimate of pollution leading to as many at 9 million premature deaths by that time, really hits home. Another article published by CNN predicted that current estimates attribute 3 million premature deaths each year due to exposure to air pollution, with levels increasing to 6.6 million premature deaths yearly by 2050. The article clearly explains that outdoor pollution does not only include industrial pollution and traffic emissions, but it also includes residential causes, such as heating and cooking sources.

The levels of air pollution around the world are contributing to the growing development of a whole new global “Pea Souper.” Although the emissions are not always visible as smog or cloudy puffs of smoke released through tall chimneys, the effects of air pollution are real and tangible, even if the source often is not.

 

Resource:

http://ozoneaware.org/what/

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/smog-kills-thousands-in-england

http://www.history.com/news/the-killer-fog-that-blanketed-london-60-years-ago

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/24/news/economy/london-air-pollution-alert/index.html

http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/10/news/economy/economic-cost-air-pollution/index.html

Medical District Express Route

Hi Comets!

Today is the first day of the Medical District Express Route, piloted by Parking and Transportation and the Office of the Provost. This Comet Cruiser route will make stops at UT Southwestern, Parkland Hospital, Callier Center Dallas, the Center for Brain Health, and the Center for Vital Longevity. For more information, visit:

http://www.utdallas.edu/services/transit/cruiser/

This route operates Monday through Friday. As of now it’s only a pilot route, so the number of riders this semester will determine whether this service will continue in future semesters.