Clark County women must focus on personal health care, wellness

Women must focus on their own wellness, which Clark County health officials say will lead to improved health care for both themselves and their family members.

Ohio ranks 35th overall for women’s health, ranking it among the bottom-15 states in the nation, according to a report released last month by the United Health Foundation.

“Women infamously take of care of their children and their families first,” said Dr. Angela Jackson-Lopez, an OB/GYN with Physicians and Surgeons for Women in Springfield.

However, the female population fared better in the annual rankings than both the state’s general population (39th) and seniors (38th). The only group with a better ranking is Ohio’s children, which ranked 28th overall.

Ohio women rank among the worst for behaviors, including smoking, obesity, excessive drinking and chlamydia. Clark County women also struggle with reproductive health care, breast cancer screenings and skin care issues, local doctors said.

About 10.7 percent of women in Ohio don’t have health insurance, according to the report. Many of those women will often seek care for their families instead of themselves, Clark County Combined Health District Director of Nursing Susan Bayless said.

“If they’re going to seek medical care, it’s often for their kids,” she said. “They can’t afford the preventative care, so they’re not seen until there’s a problem.”

Ohio ranked among the worst states for smoking, publicly-funded health programs, drug deaths and food insecurity, the report said.

It’s important for women to schedule routine health exams and annual mammograms, Jackson-Lopez said.

Women must also take a holistic approach to health care to better manage the stress that comes with so many responsibilities, Mental Health Services social worker Peggy Mason said.

“It’s not only physical health, it’s mental health, it’s emotional health,” Mason said. “It’s ‘What do I do for myself? How do I take care of myself so I can take care of my family?’”

The stress of juggling responsibilities both at work and at home can be difficult, Bayless said.

“There’s so much pressure put on women today to be successful in their careers and still bring the brownies to PTO meetings,” Bayless said.

Reproductive health

The health district received a $375,000 grant earlier this year from the Ohio Department of Health to expand its reproductive health and wellness services over the next five years. The district started in July holding dedicated hours for reproductive services, including walk-ins on Monday and appointments on Thursday each week.

The need for reproductive health services — including STD testing, pregnancy testing and planning, contraceptives and pap testing — played a big role in Clark County seeking the grant, Bayless said.

“We got the grant because we needed it the most,” she said. “Our appointments are filling up like crazy.”

About 53 percent of births in Ohio are unplanned, Bayless said. The district is using the clinic for pregnancy testing as well as showing women how to plan for a pregnancy, she said.

“We can show them, ‘Here’s what you do if you’re not ready’,” Bayless said.

There’s a big need for emotional and physical support before, during and after childbirth, said Aly Level, a Springfield-based Doula who owns Voice Birth Options. She helps connect parents with other parents who have also recently had children, she said.

“It’s really simple things like mom groups on Facebook,” Level said, “or play dates at the park, just simple things like that letting them know you’re not alone in this.”

She often recommends mothers take time to do things for themselves, like getting a manicure or a massage, Level said.

“You do take better care of those around you when you take better care of yourself,” she said.

Breast Cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 88, Jackson-Lopez said.

“As we age — even though we don’t necessarily enjoy that screening — it’s important we get our yearly mammograms,” she said.

The annual County Health Rankings show Clark County is getting worse for mammography screenings with about 54 percent of its female Medicare enrollees ages 67-69 having received a screening.

Clark County has made a strong effort this year to provide more free mammograms to residents through a mobile mammography, which comes from out of the county to provide free breast exams for women.

The bus has been at several events in Springfield this year, including the NAACP’s Minority Health Fair and the Community Health Foundation’s Healthy Families ’16.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” Bayless said.

Skin care

Some women are developing melanoma at a young age due to tanning, even as research shows that it’s harmful to your skin, said Dr. Shannon Trotter, a Springfield-based dermatologist.

Tanning causes about 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Despite education, people are still tanning,” Trotter said. “If you go to some small towns in Ohio, there are more tanning salons than there are even McDonald’s.”

Many women tan because they like the look, Trotter said, but also because they get 20 minutes away from their husband and children.

“A lot of it has to do with the alone time and sort of taking care of yourself concept,” Trotter said.

She focuses on the risks of tanning and taking care of your skin at an early age, she said.

“Getting familiar with their bodies is what we encourage all women to do and taking care of their skin is no exception,” Trotter said. “I often have people come in and ask ‘How can I fix what I did 20 or 30 years ago?’”

A trainer’s perspective

Women often gauge health by their weight, said personal trainer Pat Frock, the owner of Springfield Health and Fitness.

“We try to change women’s mindsets as soon as they get here,” Frock said. “It seems like everybody just wants to lose weight.”

Weight loss is the end result of a lifestyle change, Frock said, such as diet and increased exercise.

“If you concentrate on being healthier, the weight loss will come,” Frock said. “We try to get people to make better lifestyle choices.”

An upcoming class will focus on improving the health of people 50-and-over, she said. Women often believe it’s too late to get healthy late in their lives, Frock said.

She often hears women say they don’t have enough time to workout because of other responsibilities, she said.

“It’s even more important to schedule time no matter what, before work or after work,” Frock said. “Even if you get up a half-hour earlier, it’s enough time to get a couple miles in before the kids wake up.”

[Source:-Springfield News Sun]