Did you know HPV can lead to cancer and other serious health problems?  Dr. Michael Warren, deputy commissioner for population health at the Tennessee Department of Health, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss the Human papillomavirus (HPV). View his segment here.

HPV is a common virus that can cause diseases ranging from warts to cervical cancer. There are more than 150 different strains that can manifest into a wide array of different symptoms. HPV is transmitted most frequently through intimate contact, so most adults who are sexually active have a risk and have probably come in contact with the disease.
Due to the variety of signs and symptoms of HPV, the disease is not always obvious. Many people who are infected may not be aware. Diagnosis can be made with a pap smear or physical exam.
There is no cure for HPV, so prevention is key. HPV vaccinations are recommended for both boys and girls at ages 11 to 12, and the vaccine is available through most health care providers and all county health departments. The vaccine is safe and typically included in the recommended vaccinations children receive from their primary care doctor.
To learn more about HPV and where you can receive the HPV vaccine, visit CDC.gov/HPV.


Maternal Health

Did you know that if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, it’s important to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks? Dr. Karen Cassidy, market medical director for population health at UnitedHealthcare of Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss maternal health and the importance of carrying your baby to full term. View her segment here.

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times of a woman’s life, but it can also be overwhelming. UnitedHealthcare encourages healthy pregnancies by providing access to prenatal, post-partum and well-child care. They also offer programs and online services to help moms stay healthy throughout their pregnancies and are committed to raising awareness of the importance of full-term deliveries.

One in three women in the U.S. has a C-section, which is a significantly higher rate than the rest of the world. If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s important to carry your baby to full term because babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have breathing problems and developmental delays. And, premature births before 37 weeks of pregnancy account for 35 percent of all infant deaths. Unless there are medical reasons, give your baby all the time he or she needs to grow, and wait for labor to begin on its own rather than scheduling delivery around your or your doctor’s schedule.

Expectant moms can ensure a healthy delivery by eating well, staying active, getting enough rest, limiting stress, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and keeping up with prenatal appointments. Carefully choosing the right maternity care provider and your birth setting is an important, too. If you are thinking about giving birth at an out-of-hospital birth center or at home, call your insurance provider and make sure you understand your insurance coverage related to those services.

According to Dr. Cassidy, the best thing that an expectant mom can do for her baby is to take care of herself. What’s good for the mom is good for the baby. For more information on maternal care, visit ChildbirthConnection.org or marchofdimes.org/39weeks.

Did you know the next generation of seniors is predicted to have 25 percent higher prevalence of obesity and 55 percent higher prevalence of diabetes? United Healthcare’s Dr. Karen Cassidy joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss important findings from America’s Health Rankings and its 2016 Senior Report, and how we can use them to take small steps toward better health. View her interview here.

America’s Health Rankings is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. It is an actionable report that gives a holistic view of the nation and allows each state to see areas of opportunity for improving the health of its citizens. America’s Health Rankings is the result of a partnership between the United Health Foundation and other organizations.
The Senior Report focuses on the health of older Americans – and serves to drive individuals and organizations to take action to improve senior health. It analyzes 35 individual measures of health, such as smoking rates, prevalence of diabetes, obesity rates, availability of physicians, food insecurity and flu vaccination coverage.

Tennessee’s overall rank for 2016 is 43 out of the 50 states, which is an improvement of one place compared to last year’s senior health rankings. The report also illuminates many Tennessee-specific measures where our state excels and where it needs to improve.

The positive:

  • Low prevalence of excessive drinking (No. 1 in the nation)
  • A significant improvement in the obesity rate of our seniors (No. 5 in the nation, up from No. 34 last year)
  • High vaccination coverage (No. 6)

The negative:

  • High prevalence of smoking (No. 49)
  • High prevalence of frequent mental distress (No. 49)
  • High rate of food insecurity (No. 46) and limited availability of home-delivered meals (No. 48)

Looking to the future, this year’s Senior Report examined middle-aged Americans who will become seniors over the next 14 years and how their health challenges will impact our future senior population. In comparing today’s middle-aged population to their peers of 1999, it revealed the senior population of 2030 will:

  • Smoke 50% less
  • Have 54% increased prevalence of diabetes; and
  • 25% increased prevalence of obesity

Based on these finding, the report shows us we need to focus on weight by eating balanced, nutritious diets and being as physically active as possible. There is a direct correlation between preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancer. Also, we need to create a sense of community for our seniors to combat the growing prevalence of mental health issues.

If you would like to view the America’s Health Rankings reports in their entirety, visit AmericasHealthRankings.org. If you’re looking for a great resource for improving the health of yourself and your family, visit the state’s Healthier Tennessee website at HealthierTN.com.

Did you know that children should have 12 checkups before the age of three? Establishing a positive relationship with healthcare professionals and diagnosing any medical problems at an early age is essential to raising a healthy child. Dr. Joel Bradley, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare in Tennessee, and Dr. Vaughn Frigon, chief medical officer of TennCare, joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss critical healthcare information for low-income Tennesseans about how TennCare Kids is working to meet their needs. View their entire interview here.

One of the oldest Medicaid managed care programs in the country, TennCare provides health care for approximately 1.4 million Tennesseans, or 25 percent of the state’s population. Approximately two-thirds of those TennCare serves are children.

TennCare Kids is the early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment program for children who are enrolled in TennCare. Starting at birth until age 21, it provides a spectrum of care including health screenings, medical and dental checkups and other health care services for children, according to guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

TennCare Kids “well child” screenings are free and include:

  • Health history
  • Complete physical exam
  • Appropriate immunizations
  • Laboratory tests (as needed)
  • Vision/hearing screening
  • Developmental/behavioral screening
  • Health education

The key to treating adolescent health issues is early diagnosis. TennCare Kids’ goal is to treat any problems before they become lifelong disabilities. Screenings should start within the first week of life and infants should have 12 checkups before their third birthday. Children age three through 20 should have one medical screening every year and a dental checkup every six months.

These regular visits to a primary care provider or local health department will build a relationship that sets the groundwork for your child to manage their own care throughout their life. If starting out at a new practice, take any medical records that you have, including immunization records and family history.

To learn more about keeping your child healthy, visit KidCentralTN.com. And if you’re not in TennCare but think your child might be eligible or have questions, contact Healthcare.gov or call 1.800.318.2596.

TennCare Kids

Representatives from UnitedHealthcare and TennCare explain TennCare Kids, a free child health services program, on the latest episode of Community Health Matters.

Tune in to hear from experts on how to keep your child healthy. Representatives from UnitedHealthcare and TennCare explain TennCare Kids, a free child health services program, on the latest episode of Community Health Matters. Pediatrician Dr. Deanna Bell & UnitedHealthcare’s Dr. Joel Bradley share how to optimize your child’s health checkups. And dietician Mckel Hill stopped by to discuss how to help kids make healthy food choices.