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Good Health, Better World

Stronger communities begin with good health — for everyone.

Women have a way of prioritizing others’ health ahead of their own. They successfully balance many important roles in families, communities, and society but don’t always have access to the care and information they need. And when they do, systemic challenges often stand in the way of progress.

In Season 3 of Good Health, Better World, we talk about supporting women’s health—body and mind—across generations, populations, and stages of life.

You’ll hear from experts on ways to empower women to take control of their health — even during life’s most pressing moments — and learn about advances in research and health care delivery to support women in our community and beyond.

The Good Health, Better World podcast series presented by UPMC Health Plan brings experts together to discuss some of health care’s most important (and often challenging) topics.

Season 3, Episode 9: New research frontiers in women’s health equity

A woman’s health and her choices about it are linked to where she’s grown up, her access to resources, and even where she works. Often, that might mean limiting choices for some women and built-in assumptions on the part of providers. How can we create more robust standards ...

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Season 3, Episode 8: Disparities in diagnosing and treating breast cancer

Breast cancer accounts for about one in three diagnoses of cancer for women each year in the United States, yet vast disparities exist: Black women have a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer before 40—and at every age, Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than other ...

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Season 3, Episode 7: Prevention as self-care: Shifting the paradigm

In this episode, we’re joined by Carrie Whitcher, chief quality officer and vice president of quality performance at UPMC Health Plan; Dr. Bob Edwards, chair of ob-gyn at the University of Pittsburgh, and the chief medical officer of UPMC’s Community and Ambulatory Services Division, to discuss preventive care ...

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Season 3, Episode 6: The complexities of chronic disease in women

A woman’s risk of being diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions, such as heart disease, can be influenced by her lifestyle and family history. In this episode, we’re joined by Dr. Crystal Clark, chief medical officer for Community HealthChoices and senior advisor for the Center for Social ...

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Season 3, Episode 5: Staying healthy through midlife and beyond

Midlife can be exhilarating…and challenging! Key milestones during this time such as menopause bring on physical and emotional changes that affect women’s sense of self and identity. In this episode, we hear from Stacey Shankle, CRNP, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the Midlife Health Center at ...

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Season 3, Episode 4: Finding community in motherhood

How can moms care for themselves and their children? In this episode, we hear from Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, a pediatrician and chief medical officer in Quality and Pediatrics at UPMC Health Plan, and Muffy Mendoza, author, speaker, and founder of Brown Mamas, about motherhood and parenting through every stage of ...

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Season 3, Episode 3: Support for pregnant people in marginalized communities

Some individuals and their babies are at a higher risk for complications during or after pregnancy — but what works to help them?  In this episode, we’ll talk with Stacy Freeman-Pistella, a senior health manager in Magee-Womens Pregnancy and Women’s Recovery Center; and Tica Nickson, director of prevention of ...

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Season 3, Episode 2: Solutions for safer reproductive health care

Pregnancy can be a transformational time of hope and change. But many people are especially vulnerable during pregnancy, with factors that put them and their babies at greater risk for health complications than others.    In this episode, we focus on solutions that can improve a person’s pregnancy, birthing experience, ...

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Season 3, Episode 1: Providing comprehensive care to today’s women

Women often take on roles to care for others first and may not attend enough to their own health and well-being. In this episode, we discuss the many ways that sex and gender affect a person’s health with Dr. Sarah Tilstra, section chief of women’s health and internist ...

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Season 2, Episode 8: Innovation in behavioral health

What’s the new frontier in behavioral health? That great frontier might not always mean being in a doctor’s office. Learn more about how telehealth, new therapies, and whole person care — where you live and play — affect well-being. Hear from Dr. Matthew Hurford and Dr. Geoffrey Neimark of Community ...

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Season 2, Episode 7: Supporting the mental health of older adults

As we age, mental and physical changes can leave some people feeling left behind — perhaps even more isolated as a result of the pandemic, and other life changes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Listen in for a discussion about special considerations affecting the mental health of older ...

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Season 2, Episode 6: What is integrated care?

Integrated care helps bring together care for the body and mind. In this episode, our guests discuss this body-mind approach and how doctors are implementing this model. How could it benefit you or a loved one? Hear insights from Dr. Alin Severance, medical director of Behavioral Health Services at UPMC ...

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Season 2, Episode 5: Behavioral health and resilience in the workplace

Healthy, happy employees mean a better workplace. What can employers do? Guests James Kinville and Nancy Mckee of UPMC Health Plan’s LifeSolutions discuss why behavioral health care should be an important area of focus for employers and how an employee assistance program can support resilience and a culture of ...

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Season 2, Episode 4: Opening up about addiction

In this episode, we hear from behavioral health experts who discuss different types of addictions, the impact, and how to get support on a path to recovery. Hear insights from Dr. Michael Lynch, associate professor of Emergency Medicine, Toxicology, Pediatrics, and Addiction Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. ...

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Season 2, Episode 3: Childhood, interrupted: Adolescent and pediatric behavioral health

The pandemic disrupted childhood routines in ways that experts are still seeking to understand. In this episode, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh pediatrician Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan and psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Schlesinger talk about common behavioral health issues children and teens can have and what adults can do to support ...

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Season 2, Episode 2: Building resilience through trauma-informed care

In this episode, Dr. Kimberly Blair, a psychologist at Western Psychiatric Hospital, and Dr. Lyndra Bills, senior medical director at Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, discuss the ways that trauma and anxiety have affected people as our lives shifted as a result of the pandemic. How can trauma-informed care and ...

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Season 2, Episode 1: Laying the Foundation for Behavioral Health

In this season’s inaugural episode, our guests discuss what behavioral health means and share resources to help us get back on track as we move forward from COVID-19. We hear from Diane Holder, president and CEO of UPMC Health Plan, and Dr. James Schuster, chief medical officer of the ...

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Season 1, Episode 9: COVID-19 Vaccinations and Your Workforce

Employers large and small in Pennsylvania may be wrestling with questions as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift and more people are eligible for the vaccine. In this episode, hear from Dr. Joon Lee, senior vice president, UPMC, and president, UPMC Physician Services, UPMC Health Services Division. Dr. Lee, formerly chief ...

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Season 1, Episode 8: What’s Next for Social Determinants?

So many factors influence the choices a person makes regarding their health. Addressing these social factors often seems insurmountable. But many organizations are beginning to make inroads. This includes health insurers, like UPMC Health Plan, who are exploring approaches that help support the “whole person” — which in theory can lead ...

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Season 1, Episode 7: Better Health for Mom and Baby

Researchers, insurers, and health care experts continue to try to tackle improving maternal health care — and by extension, the health of children. In this episode, we hear from Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, senior medical director, pediatrics at UPMC Health Plan, where she manages children’s services in the Children’s Health ...

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Season 1, Episode 6: Powering a more equitable future through information

How can researchers partner with community and government organizations to gain visibility into the social needs of our communities? In Episode 6, we hear from Joan Eichner, director, operations and evaluation, UPMC Center for Social Impact in Pittsburgh. Her work supports the development of comprehensive strategies across UPMC that address social ...

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Season 1, Episode 5: Access for One, Access for All

How can we create more inclusive care for the LGBTQ+ community, and what role can a health insurer play? In this episode, we hear from Shireen Haq, a program director in UPMC Health Plan’s National Network Development & Strategic Expansion team. She works with providers that care for underserved ...

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Season 1, Episode 4: How a Home Helps Your Health

Those without stable housing are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions compared to those who have the security of a home, research shows. In Episode 4, we hear from Everett McElveen, chief executive officer of Community Human Services in Pittsburgh, which helps people secure housing. We also hear from ...

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Season 1, Episode 3: Better Jobs, Better Health

What does a job have to do with your physical health? Plenty, as it turns out. In this episode, we hear about how innovative partnerships across the commonwealth are training people and helping them to gain employment. For example, UPMC Health Plan’s Pathways to Work program helps its members ...

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Dr. Ellen Beckjord

Dr. Ellen Beckjord, MPH, is host of the Good Health, Better World podcast.

Ellen is a behavioral scientist, epidemiologist, and licensed clinical psychologist working at the intersection of population and digital health. A long-time member of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Ellen currently serves on the board of directors as president-elect.

Her work focuses on promoting health, wellness, and health behavior change. She is vice president of population health and clinical optimization for UPMC Health Plan based in Pittsburgh.

Ellen trained at the University of Vermont, where she worked with cancer survivors and their families, at Vanderbilt University, and at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

She completed post-doctoral research at the National Cancer Institute in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch within the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. She spent nearly five years in academic medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Hillman Cancer Center.

Ellen also is the co-author of “Porchtraits” in which she interviewed people in Pittsburgh during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic about what they were learning, missing, enjoying, what surprised them, and what they felt hopeful about.

Ellen’s guiding principle: “Lead with love.”

This podcast is proudly presented by

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