By: Trina Jellison, group vice president of Women and Children’s Institute at Providence
COVID-19 has been hard in so many ways. Our lives have been uprooted and in ways I never expected. This caused many of us to delay health care needs during the wake of this deadly virus. I sincerely hope as more and more Americans are vaccinated, we can begin to see our patients again. It’s important during Women’s Health Week to take a moment to schedule your next doctor’s appointment. Don’t delay the care your entire body needs after the last year. Ensure you are taking care from head to toe, inside and out.
Preteens to Young Adults - Start Healthy Habits Now
Whether you are a parent caring for your daughter or an independent teen looking to start a healthy lifestyle, start now.
- Find a doctor you trust. Becoming an adult is not easy. You will be dealing with hormone changes, starting your period, planning for your future, and all the stress that comes with everyday life of a young teen. Your doctor is a trusted adult with whom you can share your health journey. A health care provider can help you manage stress, discuss good sleep habits, find ways to care for your mental health, establish healthy eating routines, provide sexual education and a vaccine schedule. This includes ensuring your daughter has the proper vaccines to start college and live in the dorm rooms.
- Note to parents: Providers can help you as well. Share your concerns with your child’s doctor. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. The doctor patient relationship is an important aspect of any young woman’s life. Encourage your daughter to be transparent when speaking with her doctor. Is she sexually active or is she fighting depression? Is she doing great but cervical cancer runs in your family? We all want the next generation of women to be healthy and happy. We are here to support your daughter’s health needs, without judgement.
- To the young woman without adult support or health insurance. We see you and we are here for you. According to Kids Count Data Center in 2019, 6% of children 18 and below didn’t have health insurance in the United States. The United States Census Bureau reported that many were uninsured largely because of a decline in public health coverage, such as Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Providence, as a not-for-profit health system has a community benefit program and in 2020 invested $276 million in charity care to its communities. It’s very important that these young women don’t fall through the cracks.
Early Adulthood to Mid-Life - Put Your Health First
Ready to join the circus? Women really start to juggle priorities during this time of their life. Enlist a trusted provider to help you keep some of the balls in the air.
- Finding a partner is key: Forming your support group is key to balancing your life. Maybe you are married or are in a long-term relationship. Maybe you have your best friends or family to lean on. But do you consider your doctor as a key partner in your life? You should. Your doctor will be your joint decision maker during these important years. Have you had breast cancer or cervical cancer screening? Providence saw a dip of around 3.5% in both cancer screenings during COVID-19. But your doctor will do more than provide you with preventative screenings, they will listen to your stresses and help with coping tools, they can help you maintain healthy eating habits and discuss ways for you to stay healthy for years to come.
- To all the momma’s out there: Motherhood is a beautiful thing. We all know the importance of finding the doctor we can trust to bring new life into the world. The idea of a doctor being a joint decision maker is most evident in this scenario. Your doctor will guide you through a safe and healthy pregnancy and into the delivery room, especially if you have a chronic health condition. Some women experience health complications during pregnancy for the first time. Whether it’s hypertension or gestational diabetes. These indicators can sometimes, not always, be an early indicator of what is to come later in life. It’s important to have open conversations with doctors and share your health history.
- Maternal mortality in the U.S.: It saddens me to know that the United States is still dealing with pregnancy-related deaths. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in 2018 there is 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. There is also a wide racial and ethnic gap between black, white, and Hispanic women. The data shows black women at 37.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, white women at 14.9 deaths per 100,000 live births and Hispanic women at 11.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. Many of these deaths are from cardiovascular conditions, hemorrhage during or after birth and sepsis. Providence is leading the fight against preventable maternal deaths by installing an electronic medical record risk assessment. In 2018, Providence had two preventable maternal deaths out of 72,000 live births. Swedish Health System in Seattle, Wash. launched the Black Birth Empowerment Initiative. BBEI was created to address the disparities in the black community, including disproportionate higher prenatal complications.
Mid-Life to Perimenopause – The Lost Generation
Many women tend to slowly put their health on the backburner during this time of their life. Whether you are a mother, advancing your career, taking care of your parents, or in typical female fashion, selecting all the above. This is my time to say make sure you put yourself on top of that list.
- Receive Preventative Care: It’s a sad reality that many people forgo preventative care during normal times. The COVID-19 pandemic added fuel to that fire. At Providence, we saw a decrease in cervical cancer screenings (3.46%) and breast cancer screenings (3.58%). Many women tend to focus on others instead of themselves. It’s not being selfish to take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s better to be able to respond versus reacting to a catastrophe.
- Heart Diseases is Still the Number One Killer: According to the CDC, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of color. Preventative care is essential in fighting cardiovascular and contributing chronic conditions. The WISEWOMAN program serves low-income, uninsured and underinsured women ages 40-64 years with heart dieses and stroke risk factors.
Menopause and Beyond – The Golden Girls
- We’re Not Gonna Take It: Let the Twisted Sister song play loud in your car on the way to see your doctor. According to NCBI 50% of postmenopausal women experience urinary incontinence (UI). I want to break the stigma here and now. We don’t have to live with UI. There are many ways your physician can help navigate this part of your life, including physical therapy and other treatments.
- New and Similar Health Risks: As your estrogen level declines, there are new and old health risks you may face. You will begin to hear more about heart disease, bone health, including rheumatoid arthritis, weight gain and sleep issues. You don’t need to experience any of these health troubles alone. Your trusted doctor can guide you through each of these obstacles and provide information for a healthy lifestyle to avoid as many health problems as possible.
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