In response to the recent carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., various health organizations are calling for intervention in reducing firearms-related deaths and injuries.
“Since 1996, ACP has proposed policies to reduce deaths and injuries related to firearms, even as we must also acknowledge today that we are not doing enough. Over the next weeks and months, ACP will review the research on the most effective approaches to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths, and then from this review, offer our ideas for a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach,” Dr. David L. Bronson, president of the American College of Physicians said in a statement.
“But we know already that there are policies that can help and should be acted upon immediately. Congress should start by banning the sale of assault-type weapons and high capacity (ammunition) magazines that are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest possible time. Weapons like the semi-automatic rifle used to kill 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Bronson called for the public health system to be strengthened.
“The public health system must be strengthened and adequately funded to provide access to treatment, as long as it is needed, to people with mental health and substance abuse problems. It is especially urgent that the system provide affordable and effective treatment options for persons who may be at greater risk of inflicting violence on themselves and others, even as we recognize that most persons with mental health and substance abuse problems pose no danger,” said Bronson.
“Government must not impose any restrictions on physicians being able to counsel their patients on reducing injuries and deaths from firearms in the home, as some state legislatures have attempted to do.”
Dr. Rahn K. Bailey, president of the National Medical Association, expressed condolences on behalf of the organization of African American physicians and called for increased awareness and treatment of mental illness.
“There have been far too many senseless acts of domestic terrorism occurring in this country. After seeing the multiple images of sobbing schoolchildren, as well as distraught teachers and parents on the various news outlets this weekend, there is only one thing left to say; this has got to stop,” said Bailey, who is a psychiatrist.
Bailey noted that there is a need for acute psychiatric intervention for the victim's family, the children who survived and for others affected.
“There is an ever present need to increase our awareness, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. This is necessary for the individual, but also for our communities as we have unfortunately witnessed; undiagnosed and untreated mental illness may lead to tragedy for us all,” said Bailey.
Bailey noted that although signs of mental illness appear in adolescence and early adulthood; mental illnesses are usually diagnosed in young men in their late teens to mid-twenties, as opposed to women which are more often diagnosed in their late 20's. These signs or symptoms are not limited to a particular race or group in our society and we must recognize that mental illness is a medical condition.
“The stigma associated with mental illness delays adequate diagnosis and care and can have devastating effects on the country,” Bailey said.
The American College of Emergency Physicians, a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine, called on government at every level to increase investments in mental health resources and to ban the sale of assault weapons and high capacity-magazines.
“Emergency physicians see the tragic consequences of gun violence every day,” said Dr. Andy Sama, president of ACEP.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and to everyone affected by this terrible event in Newtown. We deplore the improper use of firearms and support legislative action to decrease the threat to public safety resulting from the widespread availability of assault weapons. We also are urging policymakers to restore dedicated funding for firearms injury prevention research.”
CEP’s policy on firearm injury prevention endorses limiting the availability of firearms to those “whose ability to responsibly handle a weapon is assured.” It also calls for aggressive action to enforce current laws against illegal possession, purchase, sale or use of firearms.
“The nation's emergency physicians call for increased funding for the development, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based programs and policies to reduce firearm related injury and death,” said Sama.
“We will fully support legislation that supports the principles of ACEP's policy on firearms injury prevention.”
The Dec. 31 deadline for the federal foreclosure review program is looming.
As a result of the settlement between the federal government and the nation’s 14 major banks, money is available to compensate homeowners who can prove that misrepresentations, errors or other irregularities occurred during the foreclosure process.
Area residents who lost their homes to foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 can turn to the Urban League of Philadelphia for free help in receiving possible compensation.
“Individuals whose foreclosure process started in 2009 and 2010 may be eligible for this review and receive compensation up to $125,000. It’s based on the 14 mortgage companies that have participated in this review,” said Deserie Fields, Urban League housing program manager.
The Urban League’s housing counselors will help applicants complete and submit the request forms and will answer questions about the process.
After unemployment led her to miss her mortgage payments, Marlyne James was evicted from her home in the city’s Overbrook section on Jan. 15, 2010. Last week, she turned to the Urban League for assistance in applying for the foreclosure review.
“I hope that by going through this independent foreclosure review it will finally make me feel as if I am made whole again,” said James, who lived in her home for 32 years.
Participating lenders have sent out letters to consumers who faced foreclosure during the eligible time period, however the government has extended the foreclosure deadline twice due to lack of applicants.
According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), about four million people received letters about the free foreclosure reviews late last year.
“Through December 13 more than 356,000 people have requested a review. There was additional advertising and outreach conducted between December 3 and December 16, so we anticipate that the number of requests will continue to grow through the deadline,” said OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard.
Some consumers have been wary of foreclosure assistance programs.
“A lot of consumers that are facing foreclosure are frustrated and not trustworthy of the additional outreach because they don’t want to be victims of predatory lending, scams or anything like that,” Fields pointed out.
Hubbard stressed that there is no charge for requesting a review.
“If someone requests to be paid to submit the review on your behalf or promises results, the borrower should be very wary,” Hubbard said.
“The reviews are being conducted by neutral third parties under the direction of the federal regulators. Borrowers give up nothing by requesting a review or by accepting remediation through the program, so they retain all their rights to pursue other options that they have available.”
The program is open to those whose mortgages were in foreclosure on a primary residence and serviced by one of 14 servicers or their affiliates, including America’s Servicing Co., Aurora Loan Services, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Bank of America, Beneficial, Chase, Citibank, CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, EMC, Everbank/Everhome Mortgage Co., Financial Freedom, GMAC Mortgage, HFC, HSBC, IndyMac Mortgage Services, MetLife Bank, National City Mortgage, PNC Mortgage, Sovereign Bank, U.S. Bank, Wachovia Mortgage, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, and Wilshire Credit Corp.
For information call the Urban League at (215) 985-3220 ext. 201 or visit www.independentforeclosureview.com.
Joseph W. Holmes was a longtime resident of Glenolden,
Holmes died Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. He was 71.
He was born March 18, 1941 in Darby to the late Marcellus and Violet Holmes.
Holmes attended McKinley Elementary School, Darby Township Middle School and graduated from Darby High School.
He retired from GlaxoSmithKline in 2007 after 25 years of service. Prior to working for GSK, Holmes was employed at the Control Switch Corporation in Glenolden.
Holmes, also known as “Lem,” developed polio during his childhood and endured many years of therapy and treatments.
“However, after all the battles were over, he lived a very productive and active life,” his family said.
He enjoyed swimming, horseback riding and bicycling. His favorite hobby was dealing with antique furniture, vintage glass bottles and old vintage Black American porcelain figurines which he sold at antique shows.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Calvin Holmes and a sister, Helen Thomas.
He is survived by his sisters, Marcella Brown of Secane; Mary James of Yeadon and Judith Earland of Cape May, N.J.; two brothers, James Holmes of Darby Township and John Holmes of East Norriton; sisters-in-law, Patricia Holmes, Joyce Holmes and Tanya Holmes; brothers-in-law, Steve James, George Earland and William Brown; special friends, Basil and Catherine Gordon and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Dec. 22 at the Claude J. Edney Memorial Chapel, 634 Sharon Avenue, Sharon Hill. Viewing will be held at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Goodwill Fire Co. No. 1, 714 Cook Ave., Glenolden, Pa., 19036
Bernice C. Terry was a former hospital housekeeping supervisor.
She died Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 at Crozer Chester Hospital after an extended illness. She was 90.
Terry was born Dec. 10, 1922 in Chester, Pa. to the late Samuel and Magnolia Jones, Sr.
Terry, a lifelong resident of Delaware County, was educated in the Chester public school system. She spent many summers in Wildwood, New Jersey with her extended family.
She was baptized at an early age and attended Bethany Baptist Church in Chester, under Rev. D. Scott.
After moving to Twin Oaks, she joined Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. She was an active member of the church’s Flower Club, Pastor’s Aide, Senior Choir and Willing Workers Ministry.
She married William Terry on May 29, 1949. They shared 54 years together until his passing in 2003. The couple’s daughter, Brenda Diana died in infancy at one month old.
Terry was a housekeeping supervisor at the Chester County Hospital in West Chester for 35 years. She retired in 1991.
“Bernice was a lively, loving, friendly spirit with an unforgettable laugh and a beautiful face,” her family said.
“She loved to joke, laugh, talk and be aware of what was going on with family and friends. She held a special bond with relating to young people today as a wise elder.”
Terry’s family said she cherished many things in life, including her family, friends, neighbors, church and her dogs.
She is survived by her brother, William “B.J.” Jones of Wildwood, N.J.; a special niece, Doris Ballard Jeffries of Florence, S.C.; a great-niece, Lori M. Hayes of Philadelphia; a devoted caretaker, Anthony Harris of Chester; and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Dec. 21 at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, 101 Washington Ave., Twin Oaks. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
Catherine Laws Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Black women are less likely to receive a newer surgical procedure for breast cancer, according to a new study.
The study, led by Dr. Dalliah Mashon Black, assistant professor of surgery in the department of surgical oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, found that Black women were less likely to receive a sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy.
“It used to be that we remove all the lymph nodes under the arm to determine whether the breast cancer had spread but then this new technique, the sentinel lymph node biopsy was developed, and it was dissimilated throughout the country in the mid-2000s,” Black said.
“So we looked at how this newer technique was being implemented in Black women versus white women with breast cancer.”
“The sentinel lymph node biopsy is a more minimally invasive surgery, so it has fewer complications compared to stripping out all the lymph nodes under the arm - and it has a less complication of arm swelling. Patients can really have problems with that larger surgery, so it is important for patients to try to get the newer sentinel lymph node biopsy,” she added.
Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database, Black and her colleagues evaluated whether there was a difference in the utilization of SLN biopsy in Black patients compared to white patients, and whether this difference impacted the risk for lymphedema, which is a complication characterized by arm swelling that may occur after auxiliary surgery.
The researchers assessed data from 31,274 women aged 66 or older, including 1,767 Black women, 27,856 white women and 1,651 women of other or unknown race.
“Black women were 12 percent less likely to receive a SNL biopsy compared to white women,” said Black, who presented the data during the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held on the week of December 4.
Hosted by the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at UT Health Science Center San Antonio and the Philadelphia-based American Association for Cancer Research, the symposium draws an audience of academic and private researchers and physicians for more than 90 countries.
The study indicated that 62 percent of black women underwent SLN biopsy compared with 74 percent of white women. The use of SLN biopsy increased each year for all patients, but disparities persisted through 2007.
The researchers found that Black women who did not undergo an SLN had an increased risk of arm swelling.
“The disparity in SLN translated to a worse clinical outcome for those Black patients,” Black said.
Black women remained significantly less likely to receive SLN biopsy compared with white women despite adjustment for tumor size, patient sociodemographics and type of breast surgery. Furthermore, ALND was associated with twice the risk for lymphedema in black patients compared with patients treated with SLN biopsy.
Black says the data highlights the need for improving national implementation of changes in practice standards and for understanding how physician cancer teams incorporate recommendations in different patient populations.
“Disparities can affect a patient’s survival but disparities can also affect a patient’s quality of life,” Black said.
“So if patients are having an unnecessary, bigger surgery that may affect that patient’s quality of life and so as healthcare providers we need to have more education about how we are discussing surgical options with minority patients. We need to be aware that this disparity exists and it is affecting clinical outcomes, specifically lymphedema. We still have work to do to narrow this disparity gap.”
Black and colleagues hope to update this study with data from the 2010 SEER-Medicare database to evaluate whether improvements have been made since 2007.