Hello and welcome to the inaugural Community Health Round-Up! In this space, I, William JA Pinnock, will serve as your guide through the world of community health. My goal for this column is that when you see the heading “Community Health Round Up” you know you are going to find the most interesting, engaging, and (most important of all) relevant news on topics that YOU, dear reader, care about. Topics to be explored include the opioid epidemic, community health centers, transgender health, health policy, telehealth, rural health, health HIT, newly published research studies, and a myriad of other issues that affect community health. So without further ado, please enjoy what will be the first of many installments of the Community Health Round Up.

Fact: People in rural communities have higher death rates from cancer than those living in metro areas. Researchers looking for reasons why believe it ties in with geographic isolation, poverty, and limited preventive and screening services, but more research needs to be done. So in order to paint a clearer picture of why rural areas are suffering from these higher death rates, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is now ramping up efforts to study this phenomenon. Read more about NCI’s efforts here.

I’ve read a lot of community health news and this one ranks up there as one of the best. Boston Medical Center recently renovated one of its building’s roofs and has finished up its first year of rooftop gardening. In all, they grew 1,800 pounds of crops which were used to make meals in the medical center and given to community members. To quote David Maffeo, BMC’s senior director of support services: “This initiative supports our mission to address social determinants of health by improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables…” Click here to learn more about BMC’s successful first year of rooftop gardening.

Health Affairs Blog recently published a fantastic examination of how healthcare needs to improve to meet the needs of the transgender community. The authors discuss how improved healthcare quality measures, better education for physicians, increased data collection on gender identity, and more research around transgender health. It’s a wonderful article and I highly encourage all to read it.

According to a new study in JAMA, the opioid epidemic is now driving down the life expectancy of people in the US. The use of opioids has become so widespread that now the average national lifespan is dropping. If this isn’t a stark reminder of why we need to continue to curb the opioid epidemic, I don’t know what is.

About the Author

William Jacob Amadeus Pinnock is a Research Coordinator at OCHIN where he assists with the creation, execution, and dissemination of research projects. He graduated with an MS in Communication from Portland State University where he focused on health communication, rural mass media, and qualitative research methods. He has experience working in commercial health insurance, healthcare research, and radio broadcasting. In his spare time, he is an Adjunct Instructor at Portland State University helping students master the art of public speaking.