Sonya Collins is an independent journalist whose recent stories about public health, medicine and biomedical research have appeared in Yale Medicine magazine, Medicine@Yale, and print and online publications served by the Georgia Public Health News Bureau. She has also contributed news stories, columns, features and travel pieces to local and regional publications in New York, Georgia, and Brazil. While earning an M.A. in Health & Medical Journalism at the University of Georgia, Sonya was a two-time science writing fellow at research conferences sponsored by the National Academies of Science and held in Irvine, CA.
Before becoming a journalist, Sonya earned an M.F.A. in creative writing at The New School, where she was a teaching fellow. She has also taught writing at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where she earned her B.A., and at the University of Georgia. During her teaching stint at UGA, she contributed an article on author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction published in 2010.Fluent in Portuguese, Sonya has translated literary and scholarly texts for publication. She lived in Brazil for two years, where she wrote a collection of essays about life on the island of Florianópolis.
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By Sonya Collins:
When Farhad Jameel, case manager at Gwinnett County’s tuberculosis control clinic, arrives at work each morning, he collects his surgical mask and several large Zip-loc bags containing the individual medications for four to six homebound tuberculosis (TB) patients living in the county. He will spend the next three hours driving around the county to watch patients take their medications …
As a case manager, it is not in Jameel’s job description to watch homebound patients take their medication, a measure required by state law … This is the responsibility of a TB outreach worker, but since the East Metro district’s funding for an outreach worker ran out in December of 2010, Jameel and his colleagues have been doing double duty in a region whose TB rates are among the highest in the state.
Two hundred and thirty future physicians slipped into white coats for the first time Saturday, September 25, at Medical College of Georgia’s annual white coat ceremony held at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta.
Culling the largest class in the history of the medical school, MCG answered a charge by the Association of American Medical Colleges for a 30% increase in U.S. medical school enrollment by 2015.
Georgia’s Stroke and Heart Attack Prevention Program helps clients at high risk for four of the five leading causes of death in Georgia – stroke, heart attack, hypertension and diabetes. SHAPPs in many districts have been whittled away to almost nothing, while cancer prevention programs, women’s health, and child and adolescent programs have also been cut dramatically.
For fiscal year 2010, state funds for health promotion were reduced by $1,136, 228. The hardest hit program was one that could save the state the most money. SHAPP funding was cut by $916,038.
An annual investment of $10 per Georgian in programs shown to increase physical activity, improve diet, and reduce tobacco use could save the state $426 million annually within five years, according to a 2009 report published by the Trust for America’s Health and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. This amounts to a return of $4.77 on every dollar spent.
As Georgia’s public health resources shrink, so does the list of conditions the health departments can treat … Ear infections, pink eye, sinusitis, and sore throat have dropped from the list. The Northeast health district used to have a nurse that provided acute care, but she was laid off.
While Georgia’s population has grown by an estimated 1.5 million since 2002, the public health nursing workforce is nearly 22% smaller. In 2002, the state had 1,817 filled public health nursing positions; today there are 1,423 …
The state has also lost scores of other public health professionals, all a result of layoffs and high turnover due to the state’s severely low salaries.