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More than 100 patients come to free health clinic | Local

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EVAN LAWRENCE Special to The Post-Star

EASTON — Less than halfway through the first day of its weekend clinic, more than 100 patients had come for free medical, vision, and dental care from Remote Area Medical, said Ronnie Hatfield, one of the organization’s staff members.

The nonprofit was holding its second annual clinic at the Washington County Fairgrounds. RAM’s mission is to provide free quality healthcare to those in need. Patients don’t need to show proof of residency or ID.

Volunteers started registering patients at 6 am Saturday. “There were several dozen cars in the parking lot when we opened,” said marketing manager Poppy Green.

The clinic served around 300 patients last year and early indications were that there would be at least that many this year.

“People need everything,” Hatfield said. Dental care tops the list, followed by vision care, general medical care and women’s health care. “You can improve someone’s life right away with dental and vision care — you can alleviate the pain of a sore tooth and give them new glasses. We see that everywhere,” he said.

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Patients are “mostly folks who are a little older,” Hatfield said. State programs usually ensure health care access for children. “There are more gaps for older folks,” he said. “RAM fills the gap.”

Patients go through an intake process that includes a medical history and basic checkup and bloodwork. “It’s a lot of everything,” said Terrence Fine, a physician’s assistant who was helping at the medical clinic. People mostly have general medical problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes and no medical insurance, he said. From the medical clinic, patients can go on to the dental and vision clinics, “which is what they really need.” RAM will put patients in touch with local health care providers for follow-up care.

Fine works in emergency rooms in the northern Adirondacks. He became involved with RAM last year as a community host, one of five people who led efforts to bring the clinic to the area.

“The services here are phenomenal,” Fine said. RAM is “easy to volunteer with and well organized. They accomplish their mission, which is a tremendous thing.”

Many patients are indigenous farm workers who don’t qualify for public health care coverage, Fine said. There are also significant numbers of people with disabilities and retirees. “They’re people who just need basic health care, vision, and dental,” he said.

Almost 200 volunteers signed up for the two-day clinic. “Typically there’s a 20 to 30% no-show rate, but that’s not happening today,” Hatfield said. Volunteers include doctors, dentists and optometrists, as well as student health care professionals practicing clinical skills under their professors’ supervision. Other positions include medical specialists, translators, data entry technicians, and just plain people who assist patients and other volunteers, set up, take down and do any other job necessary.

Colleen Carroll is a dental hygienist from Hebron who was volunteering for the first time.

“I saw a memo about the clinic and thought, ‘What a great way to give back,'” Carroll said. She was taking X-rays for patients at the dental clinic.

“There are a lot of patients who need extractions,” Carroll said. “The X-rays show that they haven’t had a decent cleaning in 10 to 15 years. They have periodontal disease and extreme decay. They need full-mouth reconstruction.”

dr Michael Seitz and his wife Young Kim, from Cornwall, were working at the 20-station dental clinic. Kim, an anesthesiologist, was serving as her husband’s assistant.

“I started doing RAM missions seven years ago,” Seitz said. He has done medical mission “around the world,” but the missions stopped during the worst of the COVID pandemic. Working with RAM is a little easier: “It’s a two-day commitment and I get to meet new people, see new places and drink new beers,” he said.

Seitz’ specialty is root canals. “RAM wasn’t doing them, but there’s a big need for it,” he said. “The other dentists bring their patients over. It’s a good service to provide, especially with front teeth. You don’t want to take the tooth out.”

The vision clinic does eye exams and gives prescriptions for glasses. About helped the patients need glasses, said Colleen Riley, a volunteer from Wisconsin, who was running the clinic’s on-site eyeglass laboratory. Patients choose their frames from RAM’s stock and the lab makes glasses in 10 to 20 minutes.

“Compared to medical or dental, it seems less flashy, but it impacts people’s lives,” Riley said. If a prescription is too complicated for the lab, RAM has the glasses made elsewhere and mails them to patients.

Karen Weinberg, from Shushan, serves on the community host group with Fine and three other local people. This year’s clinic has “a tremendous amount of community support,” Weinberg said. Donors and supporters include businesses, health care organizations and professionals, farms, and civic groups. For example, the Mary McClellan Hospital Foundation gave a grant to cover the lease of the fairground for four days, Weinberg said. Farms and businesses donated food for staff, volunteers, and patients.

Glens Falls Hospital is did free cancer screenings with referrals. BOCES students and 4-H members prepared meals and snacks for people at the clinic. Narcan training and HIV and Hepatitis C screenings were available this year thanks to grants and community support, she said.

“This is high-quality health care for people who need it,” Weinberg said. “What we are trying to do is have regular clinics at the same time each year that people can depend on. It’s one-stop health shopping.”

The RAM clinic continues today from 6 am to roughly 6 pm at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Easton, on a first-come, first-served basis. Face coverings and COVID tests are required to enter the clinic. For more information, visit www.ramusa.org.

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Women’s Health

Why I Invested: Whitney Port on investing in prenatal vitamin brand Perelel

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Perelel, touting himself to be the first OBGYN-founded prenatal vitamin supplement brand to offer targeted nutrition at each stage of pregnancy, recently announced the completion of a $4.7 million seed fundraise with notable participation from celebrities in business, fashion, and wellness.

The company’s subscription-based business model spans a number of product offerings targeted for the particular life stage the customer is in, including a conception support pack; prenatal packs for first, second, and third trimesters; packs for postpartum and early motherhood; and daily vitamins for women of all reproductive ages. Perelel also has offerings for men, including a multi-support pack and additional supplemental products for iron, libido, and probiotic support.

The Hills star and Cozeco founder Whitney Port recently shared more with Fortune about her own prenatal experiences and subsequent interest to invest in the company.

  • Startup: Perelel
  • Location: Santa Monica, Calif.
  • Year founded: 2018
  • valuation: Declined to disclose
  • investment level: Seed
  • Number of employees: Nine
  • Other major investors: The seed round was led by Unilever Ventures with additional investors including Willow Growth Partners; Gaby Dalkin, CEO of What’s Gaby Cooking; Marissa Hermer, restaurateur and owner of the Draycott, Olivetta, and Issima; Rocky Barnes, founder of The Bright Side; Julia Hunter, dermatologist and founder of Wholistic Dermatology; Joan Nyugen, co-founder and CEO of Bumo; Aimee Song, founder of Song of Style and Two Songs; and Ali Weiss, chief marketing officer of Glossier

Why she invested, in her own words

Since striving for child number two, I’ve become much more conscious about the ingredients I put into my body. In my research on prenatal vitamins, I learned that most supplement brands on the market offer a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, which neglects essential dosages and nutrients during the different stages of pregnancy and postpartum. After multiple miscarriages, I learned there isn’t just one answer or one solution to fertility problems. Each miscarriage I’ve had occurred for a different reason.

So, as someone who can intimately relate to these multileveled issues that Perelel is tackling head-on in women’s healthcare, I was immediately drawn to the brand’s innovation and mission-driven business model. After the birth of my son, postpartum presented additional problem areas for me and I needed a boost; Perelel checked all the boxes I needed. Now I know countless women who are struggling similarly and would truly benefit from the product.

Perelel is much more than a business venture for me, and the value proposition goes further than a dollar sign. Its products are intentionally formulated for each stage of womanhood by a team of top women’s health doctors, including my reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Andy Huang (who formulated their Conception Support vitamin packs).

Also, the intentionality behind building the brand community moved me. It’s much more than a customer base; it’s an intimately supportive network of women where we can lean on each other for emotional support and tap Perelel’s panel of doctors and experts for insight. Finally, for every subscription Perelel donates a supply of their own prenatal vitamins to underserved women in the US who lack access to high-quality prenatal care.

This is an installation of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.

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​​While UI faculty are warned against even talking about emergency contraception, WSU will offer emergency contraceptives in vending machine

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Separated by just 8 miles, Washington State University and the University of Idaho remain vastly different places. Now in the post Roe v. Wade era, the differences are more apparent than ever.

This week, the University of Idaho warned faculty and staff that counseling students about abortion or contraception could lead to termination or result in a felony charge. The warning was delivered in a controversial memo that prompted a response from the White House. Meanwhile, across the state line, WSU’s student government announced funding for a contraceptive vending machine that will dispense pregnancy tests, condoms and Plan B, the so-called “morning-after” pill.

“WSU is part of a state system in (Washington) and Idaho is part of a state system in a state that is much more conservative,” said Mike Satz, former law professor and associate dean at the University of Idaho. “The workplace environment is very different for both schools and what it’s like to be a student is very different for both schools.”

The differences have led to confusion and frustration among students and faculty, according to multiple interviews and media coverage.

“It feels awful that my body is having to be used in a political fight,” said Alexandria Miller, a student at the University of Idaho.

Miller worries that the women’s health center on the UI campus will be restricted in the help they can offer students in need of contraceptives and counsel around pregnancy. The Idaho law mentioned in the memo also states that the university cannot dispense any emergency contraception except in the case of rape.

As of now, it is safe for Idahoans to travel to Washington to use resources, but that could change, Satz said.

“There are certain members of the legislature that have clearly shown their intent to want to control women’s choices, no matter where they are,” Satz said. “That is something that advocates for women’s health are looking at in Idaho because we’re very concerned about that.”

At WSU, a different political landscape

WSU’s Director of University Affairs Nikolai Sublett has been spearheading a way to bring an emergency contraceptive vending machine to WSU at a reasonable price. His inspiration came from an Instagram post.

Students were asking where to get Plan B and responses poured in saying that even though Plan B is accessible at places like Safeway, Walmart and Planned Parenthood, they are either sold out or are too far away from campus to be readily available, Sublett said.

Funding for the machine itself, which costs about $4,000, is coming from the budget of the Associated Students of WSU, while funding for the actual products will come from the student government’s Coug Health Fund, he said.

Sublett said emergency contraceptives will be priced at $15 a pill, $35 less than the usual name-brand price.

Excluding the $15 fee for the pill, bringing the vending machine to WSU will be no additional cost to students, he said. Sublett made a purchase request for the emergency contraceptives vending machine on Sept. 19 and hopes to get it ordered within the next two weeks, he said.

At least 22 universities around the country have vending machines for emergency contraceptives on their campuses, with at least 12 more in the works, according to an article from Bloomberg.

Safe sex supplies such as condoms, dental dams and lube are easily accessible on campus at WSU’s Women’s Center and the university’s Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center, according to Amy Sharp, director of WSU Women’s Center.

Sharp said the only option for emergency contraception on campus costs $25 from the Cougar Health Services pharmacy, Sharp said.

“It just adds more accessibility for our students,” Sharp said.

Idaho employees unwilling to speak

Until recently, condoms have been made available on campus to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Now, they are only advertised to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, Miller said.

“It’s almost considered offensive to talk about the facts of what a condom is used for,” she said.

In media reports, University of Idaho faculty and staff are requesting anonymity when they discuss the topic. The memo urged staff and faculty to refrain from speaking on these issues until they know more.

The fact that professors are asking for anonymity in interviews speaks to a toxic environment in which faculty and staff are afraid to speak, Satz said. He worries the memo could also damage faculty-student conversations for students seeking resources.

“I cannot tell you how many times as a faculty member I’ve had students come with really serious personal problems, and they came to me in my case, because I was one of the few faculty members of color on campus and they knew that they could trust me,” he said. “In this case, I think it’s going to be very damaging to those kinds of situations.”

Satz, who left the University of Idaho in 2020 and has co-founded the Idaho 97 Project, which advocates for sensitive public health measures and an end to hate, intimidation and disinformation, has been outspoken on the issue. This week, he posted a tweet noting the university memo and the Idaho law cite language that was originally written in 1887 – when Idaho was still a territory.

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Women’s Health

ER Goddess: Low-Income Women and Women of Color Will Bear th… : Emergency Medicine News

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figures:

abortion, bias

FU2-7figures

Half of American women seeking abortions live on incomes below the federal poverty level. (N Engl J Med. 2022;386[22]:2061; https://bit.ly/3zYFcRy.) It will be these women—women who are least able to support a pregnancy and a child—who will disproportionately bear the brunt of post-Roe abortion bans.

In anti-abortion states, only women with the financial resources, ability to take time off work, and pay for child care will be able to seek abortions elsewhere. What was formerly a right for all women is now in too many states a privilege for those with money and connections.

My patients generally don’t have money or connections. I work in an urban inner-city ED where the surrounding neighborhood has a lower per capita income, more single-mother households, and a child poverty rate higher than 99.9 percent of the neighborhoods in America. (Neighborhood Scout. http://bit.ly/2Oc37XD.) I recently saw a 12-year-old who is sexually active. Her mother, who had just learned her preteen was having sex, brought her in concerned that she could be pregnant. What will happen to this 12-year-old and other girls and women who come to my ED when they can’t access abortion?

The Turnaway study offers some unsettling insights into what life will be like for women after they are denied an abortion. (Foster, Diana Greene. The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having—or Being Denied—an Abortion. New York: Scribner, 2021; https://bit.ly/3JsHBHz.) The prospective longitudinal study compared the trajectories of women who were turned away by abortion clinics because they were too far along to the trajectories of women who received abortions at the same clinic.

Still stigmatized

The two groups were similar in demographics and socioeconomics; what separated them was who got to the clinic in time and who didn’t. Interviews with the women every six months during the five years following their pregnancies revealed that receiving an abortion did not harm women’s health and well-being. On the contrary, carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term harmed their finances, health, and families.

The Turnaway study showed that women who were denied an abortion were more likely to end up living in poverty, be unemployed, and go through bankruptcy or eviction and less likely to have money for food, gas, or other basic necessities. Women denied an abortion were more likely to be with a partner who abused them and to end up as a single parent. They were less likely to agree with the statement, “I feel happy when my child laughs or smiles” and more likely to say they felt trapped as a mother.

Even teens could be criminalized for pregnancy if we continue on our current path of stripping women of their reproductive health rights. It sounds like a dystopian novel, but women have already been jailed for miscarrying, something that happens naturally in 12 to 15 percent of pregnancies of women in their 20s, a number that rises to about 25 percent by age 40. (Cleveland Clinic. July 19, 2022; https://cle.clinic/3oUNfIV.)

Brittney Poolaw was 19 when she presented to an Oklahoma ED having a miscarriage at about 16 weeks gestational age. She was asked about illicit drug use, and she answered honestly that she had used methamphetamine. The fetus tested positive for methamphetamine at autopsy. No conclusive evidence proved that methamphetamine caused her miscarriage, but she was sentenced to four years in prison for first-degree manslaughter. She was all of 21 by then. The autopsy reported that the miscarriage could have been caused by congenital abnormality or placental abruption, but this was apparently ignored. (BBC. Nov. 12, 2021; https://bbc.in/3Q3lKJ2.)

Brittney, a Native American, faced the same type of prosecution that many low-income women, drug-using women, and women of color will face if the current legal climate surrounding pregnancy and abortion persists. The majority of women with unplanned pregnancies reported to the Turnaway researchers that they had used contraception, but these women are still stigmatized, as if forgoing abstinence is a moral shortcoming and birth control doesn’t have a significant failure rate.

Supporting Women in the ED

Contrary to what lawmakers may assume, decisions to have an abortion are not casual but serious and agonizing, often made in order to take care of family. The Turnaway interviews showed that most women seeking abortion were already mothers, and their children were more likely to hit developmental milestones and less likely to live in poverty in the years after they terminated a pregnancy. Many who had abortions went on to have more children; their subsequent pregnancies were more likely to be planned and those children had better outcomes too.

Women who seek abortion after their state’s gestational age cutoff often don’t even realize they are pregnant until it’s too late, due to factors like irregular menses and lack of morning sickness, the Turnaway study found. Nonetheless, strangers will impose their morality on these women’s private reproductive health decisions.

At best, our low-income, marginalized patients left with no option but to carry an unwanted pregnancy will face the loss of life they had envisioned for themselves. At worst, they will face their own death from complications of pregnancy. None of the women in the Turnaway study who received an abortion died from it, but two women who were turned away died from complications of pregnancy. The risk of dying from childbirth is 50 to 130 times greater than the risk of dying from abortion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (N Engl J Med. 2022;386[22]:2061; https://bit.ly/3zYFcRy.)

Are we willing to sacrifice the people who gestate fetuses on the altar of fetal rights?

No matter our political or religious beliefs, we EPs need to be empathetic to patients who feel frightened and trapped by the disturbing trend of forced birth and criminal sentences for pregnancy outcomes. Our patients may not seek health care during a miscarriage or after an illegal abortion because they are too scared. We need to be ready to support them with whatever resources we can when they end up in our EDs. Sadly, we also need to be ready for more of them to come experiencing the medical emergencies that will inevitably occur when a common health care procedure becomes illegal and inaccessible.

dr Simonsis a full-time night emergency physician in Richmond, VA, and a mother of two. Follow her on Twitter@ERGoddessMDand read her past columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-ERGoddess.

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