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You don’t have your meals in a public restroom. Why should your baby? Despite the U.S. passing several laws protecting the rights of childbearing women, several restaurants, stores, and small businesses do not have dedicated spots for childbearing women to pump or breastfeed. Rabbit Ridge Farm, a family-owned business in Bee Branch, Arkansas, recognized a need for their childbearing customers to have a private nook exclusively for this purpose. While building and raising awareness for the nook has been hard, it has sent important messages to the business’s clientele: you are welcome, you are safe, and you are important.

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During the pandemic, the U.S. lessened restrictions on providers practicing medicine via telehealth in a state in which they were not licensed. While this did cause controversy in the medical community, it also allowed patients who were not able to be seen in their home state to be referred virtually to another provider out of state to have their medical needs met. Since the Public Health Emergency (PHE) has ended, these restrictions are now back to where they were pre-COVID, meaning that providers must now be licensed in the state in which they practice medicine, even if they are doing so virtually. Currently, 30 states in the U.S. restrict inter-state telehealth referrals and practice.

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In Arkansas, every 5 hours, a baby is born with a birth defect. Collecting, analyzing, and tracking data on birth defects, which has been a state law since 1985, allows policymakers, scientists, and healthcare professionals to understand the trends, causes, and impacts of birth defects on Arkansans and modify their services to better serve those in need. The Arkansas Reproductive Health Monitoring System (ARHMS) is a public health program that collects and tracks birth defect data in the state. While ARHMS consists of a small team, they play a critical role in public health research and the type of care and treatment children with birth defects receive.

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Endometriosis has previously been treated as a reproductive disorder. As a result, treatments have been limited to hormones or surgical removal, which can work for some but, for others, are not effective. Evidence now suggests that endometriosis is a whole-body inflammatory condition that can alter a person’s nervous system and severely alter their quality of life, including their ability to work, maintain relationships, and participate in social activities.

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Lately, things have felt very rushed. Maybe it’s the after-effects of the pandemic. Maybe I have too many things on my plate. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel as though I have time for genuine, real interactions outside of work. When it comes to healthcare, though, those genuine, real interactions are what build the culture of our practices. Making the patient feel welcome and engaged, regardless of how our day has been, is critical to strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.

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Chris Hughes

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