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‘It’s Only Natural’ for African-Americans moms to breastfeed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health recently launched the It’s Only Natural resource to support mothers. The videos, photos and some of the content has a specific focus on African-American moms and for good reason. By now, you may be aware of the fact that breastfeeding can be a preventative measure against conditions that overwhelmingly affect African-Americans, including diabetes, asthma and breast and ovarian cancers.

Tell Retailers: No More Hazardous 100+ Chemicals!

Does this supermarket scene sound familiar? I’ve got a shopping list in my hand, an empty fridge back home, and a wailing toddler at my side whose having a full blown supermarket meltdown. I don’t have time to meander in the aisles: I have dinner to make, a toddler to soothe, and five minutes before this tantrum reaches a whole new volume.

My grocery list isn’t the only list that shows up in store aisles. There’s also a list of 100 extremely toxic chemicals called the Hazardous 100+ and because of faulty legislation, they’re allowed to legally appear in consumer goods that we purchase.

Parents don’t have time to scour labels and track down 100 chemicals—too often, we barely have time to make it to the store, much less study every item that goes in our carts. That’s where retailers come in.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We have tremendous consumer power.  Women make over 80% of consumer purchasing decisions.  Now it’s time to use that power.

Why I Believe in Paid Sick Leave

Moms shouldn’t have to choose between their jobs and the health of their families. But too often, companies that are fixated on their bottom lines force women to make this choice. I know. It happened to me.

I became pregnant with my second child while I was working at a T-Mobile call center in Nashville, Tenn. It was a very, very rough pregnancy. I was taking medication to keep me from going into labor. I was going to the doctor twice a week, seeing both a regular obstetrician and a high-risk obstetrician. I had to drink a lot of water and go to the bathroom pretty frequently, which is what normal pregnant women do.

The Chicago Walk-out! Hear the stories of workers on the front lines

Yesterday, Chicago’s fast food and retail workers stood up and said ENOUGH! The corporations they work for are raking in huge profits, but they don’t pay their employees – mostly adults with families to support – enough to cover the most basic needs like food, rent, health care, and transportation.

“Some months I have to choose between paying for healthcare and paying my rent”  -  Aime Crawford, 56

It’s outrageous. That’s why hundreds of fast food and retail workers and their allies are doing something about it. They have launched a campaign and petition called Fight for 15! Join them.

Hear the stories of workers on the front lines!

Aimee Crawford

Brittany Smith

Paid Sick Days: A Matter of Life and Death

I have paid sick days but, sadly, know firsthand that we’re all at risk if we don’t ensure that everyone has this basic benefit.

My mother, a Holocaust survivor, developed Parkinson’s disease and had a major stroke. She was hospitalized and then sent to a nursing home. The doctors told my father that there was nothing further they could do for her that couldn’t be done at home, and as a result, my 85-year old-father took my mother home to care for her. As she needed a feeding tube and was in a semi-coma, he needed some additional assistance. We recruited a home health care aide who came for four hours a day to help him provide care for my mother. The aide, a lovely and caring person who took good care of my mother, unfortunately, struggled to have enough money to live on. Even though she lived a considerable distance from my parent’s home, she walked to work to save the $2.25 subway fare.

Brotherly Love? Check. Sisterly Devotion? Check. Earned Sick Days? Not So Fast.

It’s the stories that I keep coming back to.

The story of a cook who was hit by a bus and hit with an eviction notice when he couldn’t pay his rent. The story of a mother who missed two weeks of work with illness and, five months later, still wasn’t back on her feet financially. The story of a man who bled FOR three hours in a restaurant kitchen after cutting himself because he wasn’t allowed to leave and get stitches.

When Mayor Nutter vetoed earned sick days in Philadelphia, he didn’t just veto a bill supported by 110 organizations, 40+ businesses, 25 labor leaders, and 77 percent of Philadelphians. By choosing to stand with big business lobbyists, Mayor Nutter drowned out the voices of the hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who support and need earned sick days. By standing with Mayor Nutter, the Council members who voted with him chose not to represent the very communities that elected them.

Tell Chicago Public Schools: No Rape Music at Prom

I vividly remember my high school prom. We were dressed like adults and many anticipated the chance to play the part. Do you remember the scene: doey-eyed teenagers and whispers of all the possible places to spend the rest of the night without adult supervision? For young people, the energy of the night is electric and unforgettable. They will make decisions that night that can have life-altering consequences. Their judgement should not be influenced by music that encourages violence and promotes rape.

The Time is Now for Federal Action on Paid Sick Days

Susan, a single mother in Missouri, has a 10-year-old son who has pneumonia. She wants to stay home and care for him, but she cannot because her boss refuses to let her take the day off and she is terrified that, if she misses work, she will lose her job. She has no choice but to leave him home alone, breaking away from work as often as possible to call and check on him.

When Andrea’s seven-year-old daughter gets pinkeye, the Arizona mother is told to bring the sick child to work with her – at a school, no less. Andrea has to leave her daughter in a small room all day, checking on her regularly and worrying about the infection spreading to school staff and students.

Susan and Andrea are far from alone. They are just two of the nearly 40 million people in this country who cannot earn a single paid sick day. Millions more cannot use them to care for a sick child. For these mothers and fathers, having to choose between job and family is the norm. And it is simply unacceptable.

Fortunately, we have seen recent glimmers of hope that suggest a growing awareness of the plight of workers like Susan and Andrea, and the urgent need for public policies to help.

Disney vs. Democracy

Mickey Mouse now has a side gig as a corporate lobbyist?! Apparently. Because right now in Florida, in the final days of the state legislative session, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney is working to make it impossible for local Florida cities and counties to pass earned sick time laws. [1]

In fact, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Disney helped write the bill! Walt Disney World and Darden Restaurants, owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, helped draft the legislation, the sponsors said.” [2]  What gives? Who wants to take their family on vacation to a place where workers have to choose between going to work sick (and risk infecting others) or losing a day’s pay – and possibly even their jobs – because they are unable to earn sick days?

Why Health IT is Truly the Cat’s Meow (Cat photo included)

Those of us who work in the health IT world spend our days analyzing policies, creating advocacy strategies, and talking about meaningful use criteria, quality improvement, and care coordination till we’re blue in the face. But how does that play out when we leave the office? More often than not, we bring our work home.

I am the sole caregiver to Lorelai and a member of Betty’s1 care team. I have been in the caretaking role with both Lorelai and Betty for about five years. Really, I’m the secondary caregiver to Betty — if the primary caregiver is unavailable for any given reason, the job falls to me.

Lorelai and Betty have similar health histories. Both have chronic conditions that require them to take a variety of medications on a specific schedule. Both experience side effects from their respective medications that require monitoring and management. Both have dietary restrictions and weight management issues that negatively affect their health. And most importantly, neither is able to speak for herself and represent herself during encounters with the health care system.

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