Our Region’s Health
The Nine Network of Public Media, the Regional Health Commission, and other local partners have joined forces to improve health outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region by providing trusted information and connections to available health services.
Better health outcomes for the people of our region depend on awareness and understanding of pressing health issues and their consequences as well as improved access to health care services for all ages. Our collaborative approach also includes finding solutions to conditions that impact the health environment of our region. The lives of individuals and the welfare of our region depend on our ability to combine our resources and work together as a community on issues as far ranging as addiction, abuse, neglect and homelessness to maternal health, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Among the most the most critical and urgent issues facing our region is the dramatic increase in heroin use, particularly among young people. More than 500 people in our region have died from heroin use in the last two years – more than died of breast cancer.
The Nine Network’s partnership with the Regional Health Commission begins with a focused effort to raise awareness and understanding of the heroin crisis, its consequences on the lives of those who use and abuse heroin, and the impact of heroin use on our region’s overall health and welfare.
Our Heroin Response Town Hall, broadcast live on Nine PBS, November 12, 2012, and available through streaming on nineNet.org/health, brings together health care workers, experts and community members in a candid discussion of the causes and consequences of heroin use as well as the potential for recovery, particularly through early intervention.
It is important for our entire region to understand that heroin use is on the rise among the affluent and the underprivileged, in the suburbs, the county and the city. It is also important to know what to look for in behavior, appearance and presence of paraphernalia used to smoke, snort or inject heroin. Since most addicts lack the means to sustain their habits, they often turn to crime. And it typically begins at home.
Hope for individual recovery and for the health of our region requires a community that is engaged, involved and willing to participate in solutions.
Youth Mental Health
Thousands of young people in our region are affected by addiction, homelessness, abuse and neglect. For more than a year, the Nine Network has been working in partnership with the St. Louis County Children’s Service and nearly 30 agencies on an initiative called Youth at Risk. Together, we are providing information and connections to available services that can help young people and their families deal with conditions that not only threaten the health and future hopes of our young people, but also threaten the welfare of our entire region.
Youth at Risk began with a Town Hall that brought the community together to hear from young people, parents and experts working on the ground. This live broadcast on Nine PBS raised awareness and understanding about the causes and consequences of conditions that put our young people at risk. And throughout the initiative, the Nine Network has collaborated with the partner agencies to tell stories that illustrate the risks and make connections to services and resources for those who need help.
Many factors can put the mental well-being of young people at risk. And the stigmas associated with mental health issues often stand as barriers to those who need help.
The Nine Network of Public Media and the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund have joined forces to create better understanding of mental health issues and to increase utilization of free and affordable services available to young people and their families.
The Nine Network will be undertaking an initiative to assure that our region’s elderly, families, and people with disabilities receive the health care services they need through Medicaid.
Families USA, a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans for more than 25 years, has provided the following information to advance public understanding of Medicaid.
Since 1965, Medicaid has been the backbone of this country’s health care safety net. Jointly funded by the states and the federal government, Medicaid covers more than 58 million low-income Americans, including families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Today, Medicaid provides coverage for almost 29 million children and pays for approximately half of all long-term care costs.
Medicaid is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to cover certain categories of individuals and services. Beyond that, states have wide flexibility in the design and implementation of their Medicaid programs.
Even though Medicaid has helped millions gain access to health care, many low-income people have been left out. In 30 states, income eligibility for parents is set below 50 percent of poverty (an annual income of $9,545 for a family of three in 2012). In 2014, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, states can get substantial federal funding to expand Medicaid to all residents with incomes at or below 133 percent of poverty.
Maternal health is critical to a healthy region. In partnership with community health organizations, the Nine Network will undertake an initiative to provide information and connections to services that can improve women’s health before, during and after pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, safe motherhood begins before conception with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. It continues with appropriate prenatal care and preventing problems if they arise. The ideal result is a full-term pregnancy without unnecessary interventions, the delivery of a healthy baby, and a healthy postpartum period in a positive environment that supports the physical and emotional needs of the mother, baby and family.
Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge impact on the physical, mental, emotional, and socioeconomic health of women and their families. Pregnancy-related health outcomes are influenced by a woman’s health and other factors like race, ethnicity, age, and income.
The purpose of our Maternal Health initiative is to help ensure that all women in our region have safe and healthy pregnancies. Maternal health is essential to the well-being of children, to their future development and to the health of our region.