Last Thursday, Cornerstone Family Healthcare facilitated a discussion over women’s health issues. The event was held in honor of breast cancer and domestic violence awareness month.
The event was facilitated by Linda Mueller, President and CEO of Cornerstone. Mueller started off the event discussing the importance of breast screening.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women start partaking in breast screening procedures like mammograms and imaging at age 45. “But women should start getting familiar with their breasts at an early age,” said Marjorie Seale, Nurse Practitioner at Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley. “Once you start developing, becoming sexually active, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer.” Sometimes women begin screening earlier than the recommended age because of genetic markers found in their family history. Seale emphasized that access to early intervention screening and treatment can decrease mortality rates for women.
The event continued on to focus on other issues like domestic violence awareness, and other issues that impact women’s health.
“We also wanted to highlight maternal mortality. Obviously as well as breast screenings, and sexual violence,” said Michelle Mckeon, the Chief Operating Officer of the Regional Economic Community Action Program.
“Maternal mortality rate is the rate at which women experience death after or during childbirth,” said Giovanna Rogow, Executive Director for the Maternal Infant Services Network. Rogow was surprised to discover that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rates out of the developed world. “It’s really shocking,” said Rogow.
According to the CDC, around 700 or more women die each year from pregnancy related complications. Three out of five deaths are preventable with better access to care. In addition, African-American, Native American and Alaska Native women are around three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women.
But even with a successful birth, women still face risks with raising children. Poverty is one of these risks. According to McKeon, in Orange County the poverty rate for women headed households is 31.8 percent. In the City of Newburgh, women headed households’ poverty rate for children is 57.8 percent. “There is a significant issue of women having to do with women with children living below the poverty line,” said McKeon. McKeon said that poverty has a short- and long-term negative impact on both the health of women and their children. “What affects the mother, affects the children.”
The event ended with discussion over legislation and other issues that make it difficult for survivors of domestic violence. McKeon emphasized that policies and training for domestic violence needs to be improved. For survivors of domestic violence, access to healthcare can be difficult. Abusers can access the location of their victims through shared insurance bills disclosing doctor’s visits.
Mckeon also mentioned how basic actions like voting can be risky for survivors. “If it’s election day, and you have a polling place,” said Mckeon. “He knows exactly where to sit and wait for you, if you think voting is important.” Mckeon believes allowing survivors to vote at different locations can be a safe option to avoid this risk.
The event wrapped up with final comments from the guest speakers. “What I’d like to ask you all to think about, as you leave today, is yes that women’s health issues are extremely important,” said Mueller. “How do you access care, when you access care is important. A lot was talked about bias, about what we think or don’t think.” Mueller finished by asking for the audience to avoid bias because of the uniqueness of each woman in need, and the desire to be understood. Mueller emphasized that society needs to reach a place where women’s needs can be understood and discussed without legislation, money, or other boundaries standing in the way.