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February 14, 2022 29 mins

Ryan Gorman hosts an iHeartRadio nationwide special featuring Carole Johnson, the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to discuss the latest updates on COVID-19. Celina Gorre, President and CEO of Women Heart, also checks in for Heart Health Month. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to I Heart Radio Communities, a public affairs special
focusing on the biggest issues impacting you. This week, here's
Ryan Gorman. Thanks for joining us here on I Hear
Radio Communities. I'm Ryan Gorman, and we have some important
conversations lined up for you coming up. In a moment,
I'll talk to an official in the U. S. Department
of Health and Human Services. Plus I'll be joined by

the CEO of Women Hearts, the National Coalition for women
with heart disease, as February is Heart Health Month. Right now,
to get things started, I'm joined by Carol Johnson, the
Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration in the U. S.
Department of Health and Human Services. Carol, thanks so much
for coming on the show, and first of all, tell
us a little bit about yourself and the agency you

run within h h S. Thanks so much for the question.
I'm Carol Jumpson. I'm the Administrator of the Health Resources
and Services Administration. I began my title career here at
the agency, but has since worked UM in the Obama
and Biden White House and as the Human Services can
a share for Governor Murphy in New Jersey. So UM
we ad HRSA are very focused on supporting the health

care workforce. We think of ourselves also as the health
equity agency that is really focused on reaching under resourced communities,
underserved communities both over and rural, in making sure they
get the highest quality health care services. And I want
to go back real quick to work you did in
the Obama White House working on issues like Ebola and Zeka.

Tell us about how that experience perhaps helped in some
way with what we're currently going through with this pandemic. Yeah,
you know, it is difference in scale, absolutely, but the
challenge of new and emerging infectious diseases and how we
protect the public um and how we make sure that

we move as quickly as possible as the science moves quickly, UM,
so that we get as much information out to people
as quickly as possible. You they remember during SEKA, there
were lots of questions about pregnant women as how, you know,
should they travel to certain areas and the like, and
so there's a lot we learned a lot of partnerships
we built um with the community to make sure that

we could get trusted messengers out early. And so there's
a lot that we were able to build on, but
you know, this is of a different scale and it
has gone on much longer than anyone would have hoped,
and so, UM, it's just a continued effort to try
to get the best information to folks and the best
tools out there, which you know, it clearly abouts helping

people get the information they need to make informed choices
about getting vaccinated and getting boosted. And you also previously
served as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
Can you talk a little bit about in a situation
like this, with this pandemic, how states and the federal
government work hand in hand. It was this was a

great question, Thanks for asking that. It was really important, um,
for us to work closely, um, particularly with our congressional delegation,
who were such champions of making sure that we had
the resources on the ground to respond not just to
the immediate health needs which were critical to make sure
that we could stand up vaccination sites, make make sure

people could get testing, contact tracing treatment, but also to
make sure that we had those resources to continue school
lunch for children who were whose schools had been closed,
and that was the meal that they would get for
the day to continue to make sure that we had
snap resources so that families could get food assistance to
support UM, families in their housing so that they would

have continued support UM and not face evictions. So the
federal state partnership is really critical, and you know, on
the ground in the state, we would see the real problems,
see the real challenges, and be able to work with
our delegation UM to make sure that we could deliver
on what people needed in real time. I'm joined right
now by Carol Johnson, the Administrator of the Health Resources

and Services Administration within the U. S Department of Health
and Human Services. So obviously there's been a major effort
underway for quite a while now, for more than a
year now, to get people vaccinated against COVID nineteen. Can
you talk a little bit about that effort and also
your department specific role in helping people get vaccinated. Absolutely,

you know, it has been a whole of government response here.
The President made clear from the earliest days that UM
we were going to put every level to help get
vaccines out as quickly as possible. UM as soon as
FDA made a decision about what was appropriate and what
was authorized, that we would have vaccines available on the
ground for free in communities across the country. And since

that time we have been working all across government um
to ensure that we could deliver on that. At our
at our agency here at the Health Resources and Services Administration,
we are the major friends are of community health centers
across the country and these are really jolb primary care
health delivery systems in many underserved communities across America, and

they are trusted resources. They are the place to places
people go in their neighborhood, where someone speaks their language,
where the people who provide them services are of the
community and reflect the community. And so we have been
able to work with health centers across the country on
the vaccination campaign so that people had a trusted messenger

where they could ask their questions to. I mean, there
is no doubt that there is a long history of
systemic racism in this country that makes it hard for
some people to trust health care institutions, and so we
wanted to make sure that we had trusted messengers who
were part of this response. And health centers have been
that for many many communities and as a result of

health centers have been able to deliver more than nineteen
million vaccine doses to date and about eighty sorry, about
sixty eight percent of them has been two individuals from
racial and effect minority communities, and so we have used
our health center footprint as one way. But in addition,
we have also been able thanks to the work the

President did to secure funding and the American Rescue Plant,
we had resources to be able to provide grant support
to community based organizations across the country. You know, a
lot of smaller and even larger community based organizations wanted
to be part of the education effort here but just
didn't have the capacity to do it. And so with

these resources, they have been able to engage more community
health workers who can go out in communities UM and
be UH voice and a messenger as a trusted resource
and a knowledge base to answer people's questions and help
them address their doubts so that they can get vaccinated.
And in those local community health centers that you're serving,

what have you seen in terms of the amount of
people going there to get vaccinated? Has that increased? Has
the O macron variant wave impacted that at all? What
can you tell us about that? You know, we've really
seen UM continued movement on people coming to get vaccinated.
Part of that is, UM, no doubt because of the

Macon variant, but part of it is because we had,
we really have had this concerted effort to do events
in the community, to have vaccine ambassadors visiting local communities,
stores and sites and going to nail for lots and
going to churches and going to places to get the
word out to help encourage people, um to think about
vaccination and to help answer questions and help people get

you know, good information about what vaccination can do for
them and how it can really protect people from severe illness,
from hospitalization. And so part of it is obviously about
UM what we've seen over the last month with AMACOM,
but part of it is about really the boots on
the ground, trusted messengers in the community. I'm Ryan Gorman,

joined by Carol Johnson, the Administrator of the Health Resources
and Services Administration in the U. S Department of Health
and Human Services. COVID vaccines for children and boosters for
adults both a major focus for public health. What's the
latest information that you have for us on both of
those issues. Well, I would say, UM, you know, we

are working very hard with our partners to make sure
everyone who's eligible for a booster is getting boosted. It's
very important UM that we continue to follow the science
and continue to get boosted when UM, SBA and CDC
recommend that, so we continue to have the protection against
things like the omicond area, and then making sure the

children get vaccinated. UM so get over five currently eltwives
who vaccinated. SBA is obviously right now considering UH children
under five and potential authorization in that space. We do
a lot of work here at the Health Resources and
Services Administration on maternal and child's health UM, and we
have seen you know, far too much challenges and disruptions

and and UH issues for children throughout the pandemic. They
have just you know, they have been They've weathered so
much with schools and childcare and the like, and UM
we want to make sure kids are as protected as possible,
and so getting kids vaccinated, getting everyone boosted, particularly older
results who can be very vulnerable UM to COVID. We

want to make sure that we're getting the message out
and getting everyone boosted. And the key thing here is
just to remind folks vaccines are free. UM. You know,
you can go to Vaccines dot Gov or text your
zip coos to four three eight, eight to nine and
found the site near you, and your vaccines are free.
A lot of people may still have some concerns about

going to get vaccinated, and this goes to what you
were just talking about, because they are uninsured or underinsured.
This should not stop people. You were just talking about
how vaccines are free. Can you talk a little bit
about how your department in particular is helping with that. Yeah, absolutely,
vaccines are free and the federal government has made vaccines
free for everyone. Now you might you might say yourself

blubly a minute. When my friend went to get vaccinated,
they asked her for her insurance cards. Yes, they may
ask you for your insurance card because if UM you
have insurance, they may charge the administration see to your insurance.
But if you don't have insurance, that is perfectly fine.
That is what our program. Our department has an uninsured
program that is helping to pay those fees for anyone

who is uninsured. So you as an individual should not
get charged for vaccines. Vaccines are free. And I would
also add UM, we encourage you, regardless of your UM
immigration status, to go get a vaccine against vaccines are free.
This is not an area where you should be concerned.
You should feel comfortable going to get your vaccine. Our

priority here at public Health. I'm joined right now by
Carol Johnson, the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services
Administration within the U S Department of Health and Human Services. Obviously,
COVID nineteen and this pandemic has been such a focus.
But what are some of the other issues that you've
had to keep an eye on and and stay focused

on during the course of this pandemic, because you know,
life did not stop. All the challenges that we would
typically face, UH, did not go away just because we
had this main issue that we've been dealing with for
the past few years. Yeah, you know, it is such
a good point because there are so many UM critical
needs that we're also trying to make sure UM that

we're needing UM and UH, and we've had to be
very adaptive and flexible because circumstances have changed, and you know,
we did a lot of things are remote, and we
want to make sure UM that we're using all of
our tools to get people of the health and services
that they need. So I would point to a couple
of things. Want UM maternal and Infant health, UM. You know,

it is unacceptable. There's the wide disparities that we see
in maternal and infant health and and in maternal and
infant death associated with um UH. You know, black mothers
and black kills are back. Infants die at a rate
that is is considerably higher than white mothers and white infants,

and we need that is unacceptable and we need to
address that. We at the Health Resources and Services Administration
leave the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Trail and
Child Health Block grant. We are working closely with our
state partners on all that we need to do to
better support black women UM in the in UH pregnant
black women and making sure that we're getting them the

supports and services they need, make sure that their voices
are heard in the healthcare system UM, and that we
get to better outcomes here because that is a critical
priority for us across the administration to other quick issues
that will mention UM while we are fighting this pandemic.
The opioid epidemic continues UM, and it is it is
incumbent on all of us to make sure UM that

we're doing everything possible to support people's mental health and
to address substance use disorder during this pandemic. We UM
not only through our health sensors do we have a
footprint in many communities. We also deliver health services UM
in partnership with the Ryan White Clinics that are designed
to help individuals who have HIV and AIDS, and in

partnership with rural health clinics across America UM and we
use our rural health clinics in particular to help support
substantutes disorder treatment. At the same time, we also are
using our health Workforce dollars to train more people to
provide substance disorder treatment because we know there's a huge
demand there, a huge need there, and if we can

get people interested and engaged in treatment, we need to
have a healthcare workforce that can respond to that UM
and get people out a path to recovery. And just
the final thing I mentioned is while we work very
hard to get everyone vaccinated against COVID, we have seen
because of the delays and care associated with the pandemic

that are routine vaccinations of children have fallen and we
need to get kids vaccinated for all the many things
that children are vulnerable to. So we're also working to
make sure that we get kids their routine vaccinations. Carol Johnson,
the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration within

the U. S Department of Health and Human Services. Carol,
we really appreciate the time and all the insight that
you offered up. Thank you so much for coming on
the show. Thank you, Thanks so much for having me
and for your attention to this critical issue. And everyone
should get vaccinated. Get this all right, And finally let's
turn to Selina Gory, the President and CEO of Women Heart,
the national coalition for women with heart disease. As February

is Heart health month, do you can learn more at
Women Heart dot org. Selena, thanks so much for joining
me in and tell us how your organization came about
and what your main mission is. Absolutely thank you for
having me. Um So the organization Women Heart came together
in when three women had really horrible um experiences in

their heart journeys. They were misdiagnosed, their diagnoses were delayed
UM which resulted in worth outcomes and they would have
otherwise had So it was just really critical that they
um created an organization that supported women through their own
heart journeys. And so we are now at twenty three

years later, and the organization stand strong in providing pure
support to women with heart disease, in providing evidence based
education UM, and also in UH performing advocacy around issues
that UM elevate the issue of heart disease and women

and making sure that they have good access to quality healthcare.
When the issue of heart disease comes up, I think
most people typically associate that with men. But can you
explain the extent of this issue with women here in
the US Absolutely well. I think one statistics certainly sums

it up in that heart disease is the number one
killer of women in this country as it is in men.
And I appreciate the plection because there is often a
stereotype about heart disease being a man's disease, where we
see the the typical Hollywood heart attacks UM and it
generally is a man collecting at a test um. But

we know that women suffer heart attacks just as much
and that there's symptoms can look quite different to men.
We have women who report experiencing nausea, UM, extreme fatigue,
lower back pain, and also pain in their neck and
their jobs. Now that's not to say that they don't

also experience some more traditional symptoms of pain in their
tests and shooting the pain down their left arm. But UH,
they also in addition to those UH symptoms, experience and
a read of other symptoms. And I think the bottom
line is if you're not feeling well, make sure that
you get checked. And one statistic on your website again

women heart dot Org that really stood out to me.
Forty eight million American women are living with or are
at risk for heart disease. That's a lot, that's right, yes,
And when we talk about at risk, we're also including
in that figure women who don't even know that they're
at risk. Oftentimes, what what the main symptom of heart

disease is high blood pressure or high pretension, And a
lot of women don't know that they have high blood
pressure because it often goes undetected and you may not
even know that didn't have it because you don't feel
any different. So it's really important to know what your
your blood pressure is and you get that check with

your doctor at least once it's here um, so that
you can monitor and understand when it goes off of
what is normal for you. I'm Ryan Gorman joined right
now by Selina Gorey, the president and CEO of Women Heart,
the national coalition for women with heart disease. February is
Heart Health Month. You can learn more at Women Heart
dot org. So we're talking about how prevalent heart disease is,

of course among men, and then also the incredible number
of women who are at risk for heart disease here
in the US. Can we break that down further and
can you get into some of the disparities among different demographics,
especially women of color. Absolutely, so, we know that UM,
Black women, for example, are much more likely to die

of heart disease than than white women. UM, and that
is also true for Latino women. We know that the
experience of being misdiagnosed or having your diagnosis delayed is
even is even more pronounced UH and and results in
UH disparities and outcomes as far as heart health is

concerned for Black women and Latino women. So you know what,
what we know to be challenges for women in general
are even more pronounced and the Black community, in the
Latino community, the misdiagnosis of heart disease in women. Does
that go back to what we were talking about before,
this bias, this thinking that it's mainly an issue that

men deal with and therefore, for some reason, it's not
as big a focus when women are potentially dealing with
that issue. Yeah, it's this is a really important question.
One thing we know, unfortunately me, is that only about
half of the women in this country are even aware
that that heart disease is the number one killer of women.
So the first thing that's most that's really important about

this is that women. We need to raise awareness among
women themselves because they're not really clued into the fact
that they need to be looking after their heart health. Um.
And the second thing, as you mentioned, is bias and healthcare.
There there is again we've heard numerous stories of women
showing up having a heart attack, going to the e

R and being sent home because there are tools that
it is just anxiety or stress and make it need
to rest, when in fact they are in the middle
of a heart attack in that d R. So, yes,
there is bias, Yes there is. It's they stomach because
we know that this happens around the country, and so
there is a need for better aspucation about gender differences

in the heart disease experience between men and women. Diving
a little bit further into the demographic on heart health
and women. Is there an age range that's more at
risk than others. Yeah, this is a really important question.
And sadly, what we know is that UM died sorry,
heart disease is showing up in women in a sort

of at a younger and younger age. In fact, we
UM every year we bring together women who have experienced
a heart attack or a heart event if you say,
UM to trained them to be peer supporters. And uh,
the last time we did this training, the youngest person
in the room, the youngest woman that we had in
there was twenty seven, So that's a that's an outlier. UM.

But I would say that women really need to pay
attention to their heart help between the ages of thirty
five and st five, that that's when the onset of
heart disease generally happened, and that's when you really need
to pay attention, in particular to hypertension or high blood pressure.
M Ryan Gorman joined by the CEO of Women Hearts.

You can find them online at women heart dot org.
Selena Gory joins me now and we're talking about women
heart health and let me ask you, this is heart
disease in women more of a genetic issue or are
there other factors that women can help control the potentially

lead to heart disease. Yeah, this this is really um
an important question for for you know, all of us,
but I think for women in general, for women specifically
who have heart disease in their family. Um. We hear
often that when women have a heart attack, they only
learn after they've had that heart attack that they have

heart disease history in their family. So one really important
thing that I might to tell women is you need
to know exactly what the heart history, of the health
history really is in your family, so that when you
sew up to your docter's office, you can share that history.
You can share that sort of genetics, um, the genetic

component of your health history. But in addition to that,
we know that lifestyle also is really important in you know,
impacting our outcomes around our heart health. That includes you know,
eating healthily, um, getting good exercise, sleeping well, and controlling
our stress. Um. We we sort of forget that that

is a really critical part of making sure that our
health is our hearts are healthy. Now, has the pandemic
had any impact on heart disease and women? It really has.
You know, I think in the early days of the pandemic,
when we weren't for xactly what was what was going on,
and you know, we hadn't had any of the vaccine
developed yet. UM, what we did know was that women

with heart disease were part of the group that we
would can we considered high risk, which means that if
they were infected with COVID, they would and um likely
experienced worth outcomes because you know, because of the dual
uh morbidity of having heart disease and then having the infection. UM.

And now I think what we know is that one
of the negative consequences of the pandemic, amongst many others,
is that women delayed going to their doctor because they
wanted to stay out of hospitals. UM. And what that
meant was that there was a forty percent decrease in
heart attacks that were seen in hospitals. But that's not

that doesn't mean that there was a part of accident happened.
In fact, sadly, what was happening was that UH folks
were um going you know, delaying going into the hospital,
which meant that the unfortunately, the outcomes were worse for them.
So you know, I think that there's there are a
number of aspects of the pandemic that really impacted women

with heart disease. You know, a the the way and
seeking care to be the bias that continues to exist
despite uh, you know, in addition to the delays and
seeking care. Um. But but the third thing, and this
is where Women Heart really comes in, is that there
was increased levels of stress in part to isolation and

you know, having sort of our social connections being uh
social types being broken. And so Women Heart providing that
peer support really and we were doing it all virtually
and we have been for the last few years. Um,
really lifted up women um that really needed to be uh,
needed to have contact with folks, just you know, despite

not being ablest to leave their homes in many cases. UM.
So that is another aspect of the pandemic that really
hit women with how to be hard. I'm Ryan Gorman,
join right now by the CEO of Women Heart, Selena Gory.
You can learn more at Women Heart dot org. Again,
Women Heart dot org. What are some of the support

services that you provide across the country for women with
heart disease. So that's the main thing that we provide
is women Hearts support groups, and that these supporters are
led by women who have gone through their own heart
journeys and UH you know sort of we're ready at

some point to use their experience to help others to
share their stories to improve policy, but really importantly could
be there for women who were themselves just starting out
in their heart journeys. So in most UH states around
the country and in most of the large metropolitan cities,

we have support groups that women can plug into. And again,
because those supporposes have gone virtuals that means no matter
where you are in the country, you can have access
to these support groups. That's for first and foremost. Secondly,
we provide evidence based information on our website, but also
UM through there we call them women are champions who

are distributed across the country UM and you know, you
can get in contact with them and they can provide
any answer any questions that you might have. UM. Certainly
we have a program called system at um and and
it's in the form of an app that you can
download UM from these um UH the app stores on

both Amazon and the and the UM not anamal Apple
and the UH and the UM Android platform and um
and through that you can find one on one support
from a woman who has gone through a very similar
experience to you. So in terms of our services, the

sort of run the gamut there UM. And you know
we we of course are also on social media and
and that's where you'll also find not just information but
inspiration from the real women who have gone through their
own journeys and arthurizings, UM you know after it. And finally,
what can we all do to help support the work
that you're doing at Women Heart Well, and you know

you've been so gracious and sending them our way. UM,
got to women Heart dot org and you can find
various ways to support the cause. You know, you anybody
in this country can be an advocate for UM improving
outcomes from women's heart disease. UM. Of course we would
love your support. UM. You know, your your financial donaisance
will go a long way towards improving heart health for

women in this country. UM. But also I think what
what would be great is if you can follow Women
Heart on on the social platform. This month we have
a campaign called twenty nine Days of Heart, which combines
the Heart Months and Black History Months, UM, and where
we focus on UM the challenges um and also the

stories of real women's rising with heart disease back women
who can tell you exactly what they've been through and
where they've gotten to and how they are helping other
women today. And that's the twenty nine days of Heart
campaigns across all of our via channel Selina Gory, CEO
of Women Heart, the National Coalition for Women with heart disease,

Again you can find out more at women heart dot org. Selena,
thank you so much for coming on the show, and
thank you so much for the great work your organization
is doing. Thank you so much for having me all right,
and that's going to do it for this edition of
I Heart Radio Communities. As we wrap things up, I
want to offer a big thanks to all of our
guests and of course to all of you for listening.
If you want to hear previous episodes of the show,

we're on your iHeart radio app just search for I
Heeart Radio Communities. Will be back, same time, same place
next weekend. Stay safe,
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