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Health

A federal report says improperly treated Flint River water was a “plausible” cause of skin rashes suffered by city residents.

People in Flint have been blaming painful itchy rashes on the city’s tap water. Many pinpoint the development of their skin irritation to the city’s switch to the Flint River as its tap water source. Now a panel of experts for the most part agrees.

Dr. Daniel Maixner says depictions of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), like this one in the TV show "Homeland," have harmed the public's perceptions of the treatment. Dr. Maixner calls ECT a "miracle."
Image from the program "Homeland" / Showtime

In the latest edition of Stateside's series Minding Michigan, which explores mental health issues in our state, we take a closer look at electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). 

ECT is largely known as "electroshock therapy," but many in the field consider that to be an outdated term. ECT is a mental health treatment that can be effective for some patients with certain disorders. However, largely because of the way its been portrayed in film or television, ECT is wrapped in stigma and misconception. The University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry has just opened a new mental health unit that expands its ability to offer electro-convulsive therapy to patients.

Wikimedia user Gyre / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new study finds reducing air pollution by just a little more would save about 9,000 lives each year in the United States.

Detroit is one of the cities the study finds could benefit the most from slightly tighter air pollution regulations. 

Flickr user Andre Charland/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Get to work, grab a cup of coffee, turn on the computer … and sit down to start the business of the day.

And there you stay: sitting and sitting and sitting. Sound familiar?

For those of us with desk jobs, that’s pretty much the drill.

But more and more medical researchers warn us that all that sitting is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has even declared that “sitting is the new smoking.”

Reid McClellan, Digital Media Producer at United Shore

So many people spend their days sitting – and sitting a lot.

People who work desk jobs might spend a minimum of eight hours a day sitting hunched over a desk. I’m doing it now as I write.

Experts like Rebecca Hasson, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Schools of Kinesiology and Public Health, say this much sitting could increase risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and even cancer.

So, some companies are taking strides to keep employees moving throughout the day. Some have gyms onsite. Some hand out Fitbits.

And then there’s United Shore, a wholesale mortgage company in Troy. Employees there take a 15-minute dance break every Thursday at three.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Surgeon General says a long-awaited federal study of skin rashes in Flint should be released “very soon”.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was in Flint today meeting with local doctors and government officials.

He says they discussed many issues related to Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

But one issue that remains a major source of controversy and pain is skin rashes.

People in Flint have been complaining about itchy skin rashes for several years.  

freestockphotos

It happens every summer.  The rate of young children showing elevated blood lead levels goes up.  

That's in large part because kids spend more time in their houses, rather than at preschool and kindergarten.  They also spend more time outdoors where they can be exposed to sources of lead such as paint dust and soil.

But this year, in some cities and counties in Michigan, the spike was greater than usual.

Michigan State University hopes a new ban on using tobacco products on campus will lead to an overall reduction in tobacco use.
Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you want to smoke, chew or vape in East Lansing, you'll have to make sure to step off the Michigan State University campus first. 

A new policy taking effect today bans all tobacco use on MSU's campus. The University of Michigan passed a similar ban in 2011, meaning the state's two largest public universities now both prohibit tobacco use anywhere on their grounds. 

A Grand Rapids therapist is using virtual reality technology to help his patients confront traumatic environments.
Flickr user UTKnightCenter / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

"Minding Michigan" is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

Virtual reality doesn’t immediately pop into mind when you think about psychotherapy, but one therapist is using this burgeoning technology to treat his patients.

Tom Overly is using multi-sensory virtual reality technology to help patients confront their fears and anxieties. He’s the owner of VR Therapy and Counseling Center in Grand Rapids.

Update: 11:37 a.m., August 15

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer issued the following press release over the weekend related to broken elevators at Towne Centre Place in Ypsilanti: 

Flickr user Chealion/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

For the first time, researchers show how much patients with private insurance actually pay for hospital stays. Out-of-pocket costs are high and rising fast for many plans, even those considered “good” insurance.

Emily Adrion is a research fellow at the University of Michigan medical school. She and her team looked at the rising out-of-pocket costs for people with private insurance.

Costs are rising in two main areas: deductibles and co-insurance.

To begin with deductibles, Adrion said they rose by around 86% between 2009 and 2013.

KWA pipes
STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Earlier this week, Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with Wayne State University professor Peter Hammer about a paper he wrote which argued that the Michigan departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services weren't the only players in the events that led to the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water. 

Among the entities mentioned in that paper was the Department of Treasury, which made many of the final decisions leading up to the switch to the Flint River for a water supply. 

It also mentioned the Karegnondi Water Authority, the entity building a pipeline from Lake Huron to Genesee County.

Marc Edwards, PhD, of Virginia Tech University, holds two vials of water, one from Flint and the other from Detroit. Edwards' research helped uncover the serious problems affecting Flint's water supply.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Just three days before the federal disaster declaration expires in Flint, Virginia Tech water expert Marc Edwards has released the results of the latest water tests in Flint.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody joined us to explain the results.

He said the results don't really reflect a thumbs up or thumbs down for Flint's water quality.

“It was more something in between," he said. "Marc Edwards talked about the results and how they show that lead levels are coming down, and now the city is somewhat below the federal action level. But, again, much like Flint water itself, the answer is rather murky.”

Flickr user hang_in_there/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When you or someone in your family feels sick, chances are the first call you make is to your primary care physician.

Ever since 2010, Michigan has been a big part of a demonstration project to make primary care better, to keep people healthier and out of hospitals.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may get good news about about lead tests for their water tomorrow, though many probably won’t believe it.

Thursday morning, researchers from Virginia Tech will release the results of the third round of testing on Flint’s drinking water. The researchers have conducted hundreds of tests on the tap water of the same dozens of Flint homes.

A year ago, the first round revealed the city’s tap water was contaminated with lead. 

The second round of testing conducted earlier this year showed improvement, but levels were still above the federal action level.

Wikimedia

Updated: 11:46 a.m. 8-10-16

Most Michigan pediatricians will be following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control, which says children ages 2-17 should get a regular flu vaccine injection this year, not the FluMist nasal spray vaccine.

"The (FluMist) vaccine effectiveness is just simply not there," says Teresa Holtrop, a pediatrician and president-elect of the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

FluMist was developed by Michigan-trained epidemiologist Hunein Maassab.  He died in 2014.

According to Jay Greene, the biggest turnaround for hospitals was in Southeast Michigan because the number of uninsured people dropped so significantly.
Phalinn Ooi / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It's been more than two years since the Healthy Michigan Plan opened the Medicaid rolls to over 600,000 low-income Michiganders. What has this meant for the financial health of Michigan's hospitals and health plans?

According to Jay Greene of Crain's Detroit Business, the numbers show that hospitals are thriving under the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Michigan Plan.

Mark Ilgen says ImPAT is a "psychotherapeutic ... non-pharmacological approach" to helping people adapt to and cope with their pain.
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's become clear that America is in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic.

But here's a dilemma: what if you're in pain? Is there a way to help patients get relief from pain without resorting to powerful pain medicines that can get you addicted?

A new study indicates the answer could be yes, through something called ImPAT, or Improving Pain during Addiction Treatment. 

Stateside 8.8.2016

Aug 8, 2016

 

Today, we look into what really happened after expanding Medicaid under Healthy Michigan. And, we hear about a new report scrutinizing the treasury department's role in the Flint water crisis.

When the Affordable Care Act became law, many thought hospitals would be overwhelmed by new patients. The data show otherwise.
Flickr user Lisa Larson-Walker/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Healthy Michigan Plan launched in April 2014. It opened the Medicaid rolls to hundreds of thousands of low-income people for the first time. And no one was quite sure what to expect.

There were widely held fears that the flood of previously uninsured people would make it harder for everyone to get doctor's appointments, and that hospitals would be overloaded with seriously sick patients who, until then, didn't have insurance coverage.

Now, two years down the road, there's enough data for experts to study and analyze.

Flickr user Apotek Hjartat/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Many physicians and public health scientists view vaccination as the greatest development in modern medicine.

And yet, doctors like Phoebe Day Danziger and Rebekah Diamond, pediatric residents at the University of Michigan, find themselves trying to work with parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

They wonder why anti-vaccine parents are allowed to expose their kids, and the rest of society, to diseases which, by now, should have been wiped out.

Could it be time to make vaccination mandatory for all kids?

Insurance companies in Michigan are asking for, on average, 17.2% higher rates for individual plans next year.
flickr user 401(K) 2012 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The insurance companies offering health plans on Michigan's public exchange have a collective eye fixed on January 1, 2017.

That's when they hope they'll be able to start charging, on average, 17.2% more for individual health insurance plans.

Marianne Udow-Phillips joined us today to talk about what's behind these hefty rate increase requests.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Rates could be going up next year for people who buy health insurance on Michigan's public exchange.

More than a dozen companies have submitted requests for rate changes to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (you can see the requests here). The companies that sell to the largest share of the individual market are Blue Care Network with a 14.8% requested increase, Blue Cross Blue Shield at 18.7%, and Priority Health at 13.9%.

The average increase is 17.2%.

Why do mental health services in Michigan and vary from county to county? Michigan Radio's M I Curious did its best to find out.
FLICKR USER 401(K) / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Don Williams is from Holland, Mich., and recently, he posed this question to Michigan Radio’s MI Curious project: Is it just his perception, or do mental health services vary widely in different parts of the state?

Flickr user 401(K) 2012/Flickr

 

Don Williams of Holland posed this question to our M I Curious team:

Why are public resources for mental health issues very uneven between Michigan counties?

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids homes are about to get a lot safer.

The city is among 23 state and local agencies across the country to receive Lead Based Paint Hazard Control grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lead paint has been banned from use in housing since 1978, but it's still on the walls and woodwork in many older Michigan homes.

"It was marketed as 'the good paint', so if you cared about your home, then you used it," said Doug Stek, who directs hazard control projects for the City of Grand Rapids.

Chris O'Droski and Caitlin Darfler told us that many people struggling with addiction simply don't know there are alternative to Alchoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
flickr user Chris Yarzab / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

"Minding Michigan" is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

When it comes to finding a pathway to helping an addict to recovery, most people and most courts think of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

The popular view is that AA and NA are the only ways for someone to get clean and sober, and stay that way.

But there are other options, organizations like SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery and the Buddhist Recovery Network

For some, these alternatives can do what AA and NA could not.

Tyler Scott, Michigan Radio

Camping has been popular in Michigan for generations.

From the shores of the Great Lakes to expansive forests, this state offers magnificent sights, scenery and campgrounds.

And researchers at the University of Michigan say spending more time outdoors has mental health benefits.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Flint residents may be eligible for more healthcare benefits than they thought.

According to the "Care for Flint" campaign, the expansion of Medicaid has changed the income requirements for some services. 

"Care for Flint" is a collaboration of non-profits, churches, and grassroots organizations trying to find solutions to the ongoing water crisis.

Jamie Gaskin is the CEO of United Way of Genesee County and he says helping people understand their healthcare options is the goal of the campaign.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s about to get easier for coaches and parents to decide whether an athlete has had a potentially serious blow to the head.

Two Michigan State University professors have invented an impact-sensing headband to help people on the sidelines make quick decisions if a player takes a hit.

On the outside, the device looks like any other stretchy athletic headband, but this headband has pockets for wireless sensors that record the location and severity of an impact.

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