Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

The unbearable otherness of illness and disease

June 23, 2013

Tags: Julia Pastrana, "ape woman", May van Oskan, Scannell, unbearable otherness of illness and disease, hirsutism

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 06/23/2013

By the time she was finally given a hometown burial near Sinaloa, Mexico last February, Julia Pastrana -- one of the most famous "human curiosities" of her time -- had been dead for 153 years.

Major news agencies covered the story about her corpse's transport home from a locked storage facility in a Norwegian research institute where it had been kept since 1996. But before that, her body had been embalmed, encased in glass, exhibited around the world, stolen from a warehouse, and subsequently recovered from a trash bin. (more…)

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"There's no rap song about health care disparities"

June 11, 2013

Tags: rap song, health care disparities, health disparitites, Michael LeNoir, National Medical Association, Kate Scannell, Department of Health and Human Services, National Healthcare Disparities Report

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 06/08/2013

As a writer, I wish I could claim the title of this column as my own. But it rightly belongs to Dr. Michael A. LeNoir, an Oakland physician who is trying to educate patients and policymakers about approaching remedies for health disparities "from the bottom up, instead of the top down."

A "health disparity" usually refers to a higher burden of disease, disability, or mortality experienced by one subpopulation in comparison to another. In the U.S., health disparities are common, and they often reflect population differences characterized by race, ethnicity, gender, age or socioeconomic status.

For example, African-American men and women are more likely to die of heart disease and strokes than white people experiencing the same diseases. A recent study showed among preschool children hospitalized with asthma, 21 percent of white children were prescribed medications to prevent future hospitalizations, compared to only 2 percent of Hispanic and 7 percent of black children.

The troubling fact is that health disparities are many, widespread, long-standing and persistent. And studies rather consistently show that gaining access to a health care system does not necessarily ensure that patients will receive higher quality care. Racial and ethnic health disparities often persist even when insurance status is comparable -- a sobering acknowledgment as we approach near-universal coverage anticipated under the Affordable Care Act. (more…)

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