Healthy Conversations, Episode 3: COVID-19 Reset

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Welcome to Healthy Conversations, an open discussion among healthcare professionals about the latest innovations, what we've learned on the front lines of the pandemic, and how our industry is changing in real time. There might not be a specific moment when we can hit the reset button and start to tackle systemic healthcare challenges with a clean slate, but smaller resets are already underway. Join us as we examine what a COVID-19 Reset looks like for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

We spoke with Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle, founder and CEO of Iora Health, about how physicians have addressed the pandemic in their own practices and the changing perceptions around value based care. You can find Dr. Fernandopulle’s full interview in the accompanying podcast (below) episode.

As discussed earlier in this series, COVID-19 is causing us to rethink and readjust how we deliver care. Broader systemic change starts within individual systems. For insight into how CVS is changing its own systems, we spoke to Dr. Dan Knecht and Angie Meoli.

One of the most eye-opening impacts of COVID-19 has been the dramatic disparities highlighted in our healthcare system. Dr. Dela Taghipour and Dr. Nadia Abuelezam will discuss how we can collectively reimagine community healthcare to address those disparities.

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A medical technician, wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE), swabs an unknown female patient’s nose during a COVID-19 test.
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Branches in Miami supports students and their families amid COVID-19

Branches in Miami supports students and their families amid COVID-19
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The coronavirus has touched all of our lives in one way or another. Children, in particular, are in an ongoing state of flux. Many classes in schools and colleges across the country have been upended. We did find an oasis in South Florida where an organization called Branches has been working diligently for over 25 years to serve the neighborhood’s youth and their families.

For the podcast (below) we spoke with executive director Brent McLaughlin and Kim Torres, Director of Student Services, and Branches partner Rosa Santiago — as well as students Kelson Baptiste, Vicshonda “Vicky” Bellany, and Melvin Amaya.

Aetna Better Health®, a Medicaid managed care plan in Florida, has a long-standing relationship with Branches as a community partner.

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A tutor with the Branches organization of Miami, Florida, assists a young male student with a school assignment on a laptop computer.
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Healthy Conversations, Episode 2: COVID-19 Recovery

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In the second episode of Healthy Conversations — an open discussion among healthcare professionals about innovation, what we're learning on the front lines of this pandemic, and how our industry is changing in real time — we turn our attention to Recovery. Data is critical in addressing the challenges of COVID-19 and influences so many of our daily, clinical decisions. How will big data, more specifically “distilling multiple biometric data streams,” transform medicine moving forward?

Join our hosts, Doctors Dela Taghipour and Daniel Kraft, in conversation with Dr. Eric Topol (Scripps Research Translational Institute), Dr. Caroline Buckee (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Adam Pellegrini, and Firdaus Bhathena (CVS Health).

To learn more about the future of wearables, telemedicine, biometric data modeling, the DETECT study, and beyond, click to play the full interview with Dr. Eric Topol, Adam Pellegrini, and Dr. Daniel Kraft below or simply search for Healthy Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts.

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How healthy food is healing Massachusetts

How healthy food is healing Massachusetts
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Community Servings in Boston, Massachusetts, started in 1990 as a program to feed a small group of AIDS patients suffering from malnutrition. It has turned into a community hub that provides thousands of medically tailored meals each month, job training, and so much more. The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed their work. In fact, it’s increased demand and CVS Health stepped up to help them hire a temporary workforce of kitchen staff and delivery drivers.

While the restaurant industry continues to struggle, many individuals are going back to work, cooking for their community. The local Plumbers Union donated their trucks and their time to help ramp up deliveries. Over the course of two months, these on-demand solutions helped Community Servings distribute 27,000 entrees to Boys & Girls Clubs, homeless shelters, and others.

David Waters, CEO, points out, “It's the community serving the community. We can accomplish so much together.” In addition to the team featured in the video above, we caught up with COO Kevin Conner, executive chef Brian Hillmer, and Training Kitchen program graduates Ricardo Mercado and Jermaine McNeill, who explain how they make it all happen in this month’s podcast episode.

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Healthy Conversations, Episode 1: COVID-19 Response

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Healthy Conversations highlights our innovative approach to health care and is designed to inspire and educate. Our first three episodes will showcase our leadership in the COVID-19 response and the innovative and transformative solutions we’re developing, and feature conversations between CVS Health executives and other industry experts. Each episode includes a video and podcast.

This inaugural episode – COVID-19 Response – focuses on our testing efforts and also includes a discussion of systemic racism in health care and how that is manifesting itself especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our two hosts Dr. Daniel Kraft and Dr. Dela Taghipour engage in lively conversations with three CVS Health leaders: Chief Medical Officer for CVS Caremark Sree Chaguturu; President of MinuteClinic Sharon Vitti; and Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, Dr. Garth Graham, MPH. In addition, Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, shares his concerns around the need for more testing, especially as we enter the second half of the year.

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The accompanying podcast features an in-depth discussion between Dr. Taghipour, whose research has focused on health care disparities, and Dr. Graham. Together they discuss how disparities in health care delivery among minorities have adversely affected them during the pandemic and how CVS Health is working to support these at-risk patients.

The program continues in September and October with two more episodes focused on COVID-19. Those episodes – Recovery and Reset – will take a closer look at the future of medicine and the importance of telehealth during a public health emergency and beyond, and how we are reimagining personalized care and community health.

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Two communities find healthy solutions that work

Two communities find healthy solutions that work
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Welcome to Healthy Communities News — where we highlight communities that are finding innovative solutions to solve local health challenges. Our first episode features communities battling two common and persistent problems: food deserts and heart disease. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the East End Pop Up Market gives residents easy access to fresh food for the first time in four decades. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, church leaders are mixing faith with fitness to stem the tide of heart disease and diabetes in their congregations.


New market gives Bridgeport residents access to fresh food

As the economy struggles and poverty rises in Bridgeport, manufacturing jobs are not the only thing leaving town: Residents have had to go farther and farther to find fresh food. But a group of local businesspeople is looking to reverse that trend. They’re opening the new East End Pop-Up Market, which will offer not only fresh food, but also job training and wellness workshops. It’s a solution that can be a model for food deserts across the country.


Bridgeport market gives entrepreneurs a jump start

Small businesses can revitalize neighborhoods – so the Bridgeport OIC is lending a hand to local entrepreneurs. We talk to Jeff Nelson of Seeding Knowledge, a start-up that plants and maintains gardens and sells produce. He’s expanding his services to the East End Pop-Up Market, where he’ll offer not only fruits and vegetables, but cooking classes and gardening instruction.


Faith begets fitness in Mecklenburg County

Faith leaders, county health officials, the local health system and community groups have proven that it takes a village to address local health issues. The Village HeartBEAT program created a fitness challenge in local congregations. The goal? To help residents battling heart disease and diabetes. The program uses exercise, nutrition and community gardens to help raise the spirits and lower the weight of participants.

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Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons

Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons
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Local people with local solutions — that’s what we’re all about at Healthy Communities News. In this episode, our host, Hilary Russo, travels to Virginia and North Carolina to check out two communities taking creative approaches to address opioid use disorder. We’ll hear about these innovative solutions from the folks on the ground putting them into action and get a glimpse into recovery from Wanda Jenkins, who is using her experience with opioid use disorder to help others.


A helping hand from someone who’s been there: Gina’s story

In this episode’s podcast, we meet Gina Musa, who advocates passionately for community members in rural North Carolina struggling with opioid use disorder. A former sex worker, Gina draws on her own experience with addiction and recovery to connect people with much-needed resources and support. Today, she is a Linkage to Care Coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a job funded by an Aetna Foundation grant.

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The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease

The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease
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The number one killer of women is cardiovascular disease. This stark statistic is why the American Heart Association’s national “Go Red for Women” movement is so important. Healthy Communities News was on hand at their annual star-studded Red Dress Collection fashion show in New York City, where we got the opportunity to sit down with four heart disease and stroke survivors for a roundtable discussion. Hear their stories of recovery and hope — and why we need to talk about women’s heart health.


Taking a deep dive into heart health

You can be young, look and feel healthy and still be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Surprised? Healthy Communities News spoke with Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, to get a better of understanding of women’s heart health. We also sat down with Jenny Petz and Nicole Murray, two of the inspiring heart disease and stroke survivors chosen for Go Red for Women’s 2020 class of Real Women to hear their powerful stories of survival and recovery.

Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.
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Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana

Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana
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Much like the neighborhood for which it is named, the Live Healthy Little Havana program is a mix of many different elements. It’s a community-led initiative, a partnership with the government, a collaboration with health organizations and an effort to improve resident/police relations — all rolled into one.

To really know what a community needs, you have to live there. Talk with your neighbors over the back fence. See the issues with your own eyes. That’s what makes the Live Healthy Little Havana program a success.

Neighborhood residents, working as community liaisons, are at the heart of the work to improve life for those in the community. And everyone’s got a seat at the table, from government representatives to health workers to lifelong residents. It’s a model that’s driving change — and one that other communities can replicate.

Live Healthy Little Havana participants are working on multiple fronts toward a single goal — to improve life for the residents of this storied community. We showed up at one of their events to hear about how it’s working — and watched as kids from the neighborhood vied to be the first to get the local police commander into the dunk tank.

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A look back: 2019 Healthy Communities News

A look back: 2019 Healthy Communities News
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Not all heroes wear capes. Some monitor blood pressure in barbershops. Some fight opioid misuse and addiction in the streets. And some provide training to help their neighbors find meaningful work. At Healthy Communities News, we talk to folks who are improving health in towns and cities across the country. Here’s a sampling of the inspiring stories we were privileged to tell this year. We look forward to introducing you to even more local heroes in 2020!


A look back at our Healthy Communities News podcast

Workforce training that takes a single mom of five from homeless to hopeful in Cleveland. Students debating how to go tobacco-free on a Philadelphia campus. These are two of the exciting stories we’ve covered this past year on our Healthy Communities News podcast. And now you can sample them all on our year-end episode. Whether it’s been about faith leaders joining forces with their congregants to shed weight, or a former sex worker who draws upon her own hard-earned experience with opioids to help others struggling with addiction and recovery, we’ve gone around the country to shine a light on people and programs who are bringing change to their communities. We hope they will inspire you, and we look forward to bringing you more stories of hope this coming year.

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