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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

TX health foundation broadens focus beyond the doctor's office

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

There are Texas ZIP codes where people with lower incomes and few health services have a 20-year difference in life expectancy than those who are more fortunate. One of the state's largest health foundations said it is time to change it.

Brian Sasser, chief communications officer for the Episcopal Health Foundation, said improving nutrition and maternal health, and preventing health issues like diabetes, include factors that go beyond the doctor's office and cannot be improved by medical care alone.

"What we're doing is really looking at certain chronic conditions and other situations that we think, if we make a difference in those, that we can really improve the health of all Texans," Sasser explained.

Sasser pointed out diabetes, for example, can be improved by eating healthier food and getting active most days. But it is tough when people live in food deserts or unwalkable neighborhoods. The Foundation has released a new strategic framework to address underlying nonmedical factors affecting health.

Sasser emphasized certain health conditions and events serve as warning signs that systems and circumstances need to be improved in Texas. By starting with diabetes, nutrition and food security, and maternal health, the Foundation believes it can make an impact in reducing preventable differences in health outcomes based on income, race or ethnicity, and where a person lives.

"All three of these conditions are affected by all those things outside the doctor's office," Sasser observed. "So, while if you're pregnant it's so important to get prenatal care, there's also things like nutrition and exercise, and whether you have good living conditions."

According to Sasser, key studies show up to 90% of maternal deaths are preventable, as are nine in 10 cases of diabetes, and 4 million Texans experience food insecurity. He stressed the Foundation will spend the first part of this year asking communities what could make a positive difference.

"Really taking a part of the year to learn what the community thinks could help and then, trying to put those in place by our grant making, by our research, by our policy priorities," Sasser concluded.

Disclosure: The Episcopal Health Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Mental Health, Philanthropy, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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