Health of Pa.’s women and children subject of new report

Pennsylvania is reportedly in the middle of the pack when it comes to the health of its women and children, with the state seeing a low percentage of uninsured women and substance use disorder among teens but an increase in drug death rates among women and teen suicide over the last year.

The state ranked 27th in the country in the 2019 Health of Women and Children Report by the Minnesota-based United Health Foundation. The report highlights the strengths and challenges the state is facing regarding the health of its population of women and children.

The United Health Foundation is a nonprofit established by national insurance agency UnitedHealthcare. The nonprofit has offered its America’s Health Rankings reports for 30 years in topics such as senior health and overall national health.

This latest report utilizes data from sources such as the US Census Bureau, USDA and CDC to rank each state in measures like behaviors, community and environment, policy and clinical care.

“We choose to focus on the health of women, children and infants because we believe that their health is vital,” said Dr. Linda Genen, chief medical director of women’s health at Optum, a pharmacy benefit manager owned by UnitedHealth Group. “Promoting health in children starts with women receiving the care they need in their reproductive years.”

Since 2018, substance use disorder among Pennsylvania’s youth ages 12-17 decreased by 11 percent from 3.6 to 3.2 percent, making Pennsylvania the state with the least number of teens with substance use disorder in the country. Tobacco use decreased even further, moving from 9.1 percent of youths using tobacco products to 5.9 percent.

Genen noted that the data for cigarette use did not include data on e-cigarettes and vapes.

The foundation also reported that teen suicide has increased by 15 percent from 8.2 to 9.4 deaths per 100,000 adolescents. Genen said that Pennsylvania’s rise in teen suicide coincides with the country’s rise in suicide, which increased by 25 percent in 2019.

“Looking at the report, teen suicide is certainly an issue across the country,” she said, adding that the country has to make sure it is asking the right questions related to teen suicide. “What kind of research is out there? How can we help these children and what problems are they facing? Is it lack of support in the home?”

The state ranked 42nd in excessive drinking among women, with 23 percent of women ages 18-44 reporting that they binge drank in the past 30 days or drank more than eight alcoholic beverages a week.

Drug deaths among women are equally as worrying with Pennsylvania at a ranking of 46, highlighting the state’s ongoing battle with the opioid crisis. According to the report, over the past three years, drug related deaths increased by 75 percent from 19.1 to 33.4 deaths per 100,000 females aged 15-44.

On the positive end of the spectrum, only seven percent of women in Pennsylvania are uninsured, making it the eighth state with the most insured women.

Pennsylvania also leads the charge when it comes to women with dedicated health care providers and the percentage of women who took their babies for wellness checkups in 2019.

Mental health practice opens second office

Move Forward Counseling, a woman-centered mental health practice, opened a second office at 825 Eden Road in Manheim Township this month.

A new office is giving the founder of East Hempfield Township-based Move Forward Counseling an opportunity to bring its woman-focused care to more clients in Lancaster County.

Move Forward opened a second office this month in a former dentist’s office in Manheim Township. It bought the property in August.

Alison Pidgeon, CEO and founder of the practice, said she decided to add the additional office. which is off Route 30, to bring in clients from the eastern end of Lancaster County.

“I think for us it was important to be in an area more centrally located,” Pidgeon said. “We weren’t really attracting people from the east side of the county.”

Pidgeon founded Move Forward in 2015, growing the practice from one therapist to 13. The practice counsels both men and women, but Pidgeon said her business has found a niche in counseling pregnant and post-partum mothers.

The new office was a good opportunity for Move Forward to invest in a space that would be calming for clients and offer amenities that were unavailable to the practice in its East Hempfield Township location, according to Pidgeon.

“As a business owner it was a huge dream come true to purchase the building and design it according to my vision,” she said. “Especially with paying attention to the details of the process when people come for mental health treatment.”

The former dentist’s office cost  $163,000 for the building and $85,000 in renovations. Since buying the space in August, Move Forward has constructed four therapy offices outfitted with sound-proofing, as well as a waiting room with a hospitality area with snacks and drinks.

Pidgeon said Move Forward’s other office has a shared waiting room with other practices. By owning its own building, the practice was able to create a space that was “soothing, calming, clean and bright.”

Pidgeon expects the new office to double the amount of clients Move Forward’s therapists can work with, and wants to hire at least two or three more therapists to meet the anticipated demand.

“Since we’ve opened, we always had a great demand for clients,” she said. “It’s harder for me to find therapists than it is to find clients.”