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Author Archive: Nanette Elster

About Nanette Elster

07/20/2016

Plagiarism: It is a Big Deal

by Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

Election season is in full swing, with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week, and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week. In an effort to get things off on a bright note, Melania Trump gave a speech on the first day of the GOP convention praising her husband. Citizens want a sense of who Donald Trump is as a father, husband, and citizen, not a sense of someone else. Unfortunately, that was what viewers were treated to when Mrs. Trump, though poised and sincere, delivered a speech that not only echoed the sentiments of Michelle Obama talking about her husband, but actually used First Lady Obama’s words, verbatim.…

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06/22/2015

Reflections on Father’s Day from a “Single” Mother

by Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

Today on Father’s Day, as I miss my own father who has been gone for 17 years now, I am reflecting on my decision to intentionally become a single mother. I think about all of the ways my father shaped the woman I am today and how he is the one who gave me the courage to become a mother with or without a husband or partner. He is the one who gave me career advice, dating advice, took me to get my first prom dress (and even my first bra). He was a straight shooter, never mincing words or sugar coating things but always enveloping me in love and support.…

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02/04/2015

The Unbearable Rightness of Handwashing

by Nanette Elster, JD, MPH and Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

You may have seen at your doctor’s office a poster showing a climber scaling a sheer cliff. Purportedly a public service ad (PSA), the casual viewer would assume that the poster is warning against the dangers of climbing. In fact, the poster warns people about the danger of not using sunscreen. The ad cleverly upends our typical perception of risk (that climbing is dangerous) with a much more pedestrian but even greater risk (getting skin cancer from too much sun). Have we gotten to the point that we need a similarly provocative PSA telling us of the health benefits of washing hands?…

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08/12/2014

No Laughing Matter

Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

Like many people around the world, I was shocked to hear about the death of Robin Williams. An Academy-award winner, brilliant comedian, and the host of Comic Relief, he was beloved by millions. I can’t help however think about how tragic it is that it took his terrible suicide to cause our country to recognize the pervasiveness and damage of depression. Recently, the media has saturated us with stories about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We can all engage in discussions about Ebola ranging from ethics to economics. But Ebola, while a terrifying and deadly disease, has killed about 3000 people over the last 4 decades according to statistics from the World Health Organization.…

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This entry was posted in Cultural, Featured Posts, Psychiatric Ethics and tagged , . Posted by Nanette Elster. Bookmark the permalink.

12/05/2013

When Less is More—Saying No to the Technological Imperative at the End of Life

Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

Bioethicist and octogenarian Daniel Callahan wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this week about society’s quest to extend life. He opined, “Adding years to a life doesn’t necessarily make it any fuller.”  I understand Callahan’s view.  I recently assumed the role of healthcare power of attorney for an elderly relative who suffered a traumatic brain injury compounding a previously existing dementia.   I have posed a similar question to Callahan’s observation to every healthcare provider I have encountered during my relative’s most recent hospitalization.  Test after test to identify the reason for his weakness and the cause of his exacerbated confusion have yielded no answers, yet there is still the push to keep looking. …

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This entry was posted in End of Life Care, Featured Posts, Health Care. Posted by Nanette Elster. Bookmark the permalink.

05/06/2013

“Donor Dad” or “Gene”? The Language of False Hopes and False Expectations

Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, I can’t help but reflect upon my own journey to motherhood, which began as a solo endeavor with an anonymous sperm donor due to an infertility diagnosis at 30.  This time of year always makes me a bit reflective about what titles like mom and dad, mother and father actually mean.  I often hear about “biological dads,” “real father,” etc., and this makes my head spin. Even the trailer for the 2010 movie The Kids are All Right highlighted the terms “biological dad” and “donor dad”.  While it did acknowledge “He’s not their father, he’s our sperm donor,” much of the press that followed ignored that significant nugget. …

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Genetics, Reproductive Medicine. Posted by Nanette Elster. Bookmark the permalink.

04/22/2013

Mouthing Off: Oral Health for Seniors is a Matter of Social Justice

Nanette R. Elster, JD MPH

When we think about primary care, we think about health promotion, disease prevention, treatment of acute illness and management of chronic disease, as well as an initial point of contact into the health care system for many. We also think about physicians, nurses, and physician assistants, but we rarely consider dentists and the integral role they can and should play in primary care. Access to such services is particularly important for our aging population–many of whom suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The lack of focus on oral health as a component of primary health care for senior citizens has become more pronounced with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) failure to include dental services as an essential health benefit for adults, concomitant with a scaling back of Medicare and Medicaid coverage for oral health services.

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