Health

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Domestic violence is something that reaches every corner of American life.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence tells us that 85% of the people who suffer violence at the hands of an intimate partner are women.

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. That’s 1.3 million women each and every year. And most of these women have mobile phones, computers, facebook pages, or some kind of an online presence.

The presence of these information communication technologies presents ever-growing challenges to a survivor trying to stay well away from an abusive partner.

Just how do these technologies influence interpersonal violence?

Jill Dimond is a computer science graduate from the University of Michigan. After she earned her PhD at Georgia Tech, she focused her efforts on what she calls "Human Centered Computing."

That includes forming a worker-owner technology cooperative called Sassafras Tech Collective helping social justice groups, non-profits, artists and others with web and app design and development.

For more information on online safety for survivors of domestic abuse, go to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

*Listen to the audio above.

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David Leveille published a story about the increasing popularity of hookah lounges in the Detroit area for PRI's The World.

Leveille spoke with pulmonologist Basim Dubayo, the associate chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wayne State University's School of Medicine.

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What can a parent do to reach an autistic child, to forge some path through the barrier of autism spectrum disorder – a path that might somehow lead to greater understanding of that child’s mind, heart and soul?

That challenge is facing more and more families in America.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control found that one in 150 school-age children had been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. By 2008, that figure was one in 88 – an increase of 78%.

Consider more recent figures from a different government agency: the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that today, one out of every 50 school-age kids has the condition.

The experts tell us these higher numbers may not be so much a matter of more kids having ASD, but rather that health officials are getting better at counting those who do.

But behind all the statistics are the day-to-day stories of families coping with the often crushing challenge of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The uninsured and others have time to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law without facing a tax penalty.

But one Michigan insurance executive doubts much new enrollment will occur before the March 31 deadline and cautions that the net number of people buying their own insurance in Michigan could stay flat this year.

by samantha celera

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Flu hospitalizations in Michigan are way up this season because of the spread of the more serious H1N1 strain of the disease.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says the good news is this year's flu vaccine targets the H1N1 strain, making it highly effective in preventing the disease.

The department says labs confirm 169 Michigan cases this season, compared with 338 a year earlier.

But department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci says there are 190 reported hospitalizations so far this season, up from 115 a year earlier. New numbers come out Friday.

The state doesn't track adult flu deaths. There's been one juvenile death this season.

Minicuci says officials hope people take the virulence of this season's outbreak as a warning to get vaccinated.

Courtesy of Children First

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

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As the Affordable Care Act rolled out, there's been plenty of focus on physical health, pre-existing conditions. But we haven't heard too much about what the ACA means for treating Mental Illness.

And that is something that is a growing concern as mentally ill people fill Michigan's jails and prisons. What could it mean to these people to be able to obtain treatment?

Joining us is Ben Robinson. He's the President and CEO of Rose Hill Center in Holly, in Oakland County. They offer residential treatment for adults with mental illness. He's also on the Executive Board of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.

Wikimedia

It's starting to make its presence felt in empty chairs at the workplace and sad little Facebook status updates saying, "I'm sick."

Flu season is upon us.

Federal officials report 35 states are now experiencing widespread influenza activity with young and middle-aged adults being hit hardest this year rather than the usual pattern of seniors or children.

Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of  Community Health and a professor at the University of Michigan, joined us today to give us an idea of what the flu season looks like in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

by samantha celera

About a dozen flu patients have been in intensive care at  University of Michigan hospitals on any given day since the new year began. Some are on advanced life support. Most are middle-aged.  And most have the H1N1 strain of flu.

Michigan has seen a flood of H1N1 flu cases in the last few weeks.

That's according to Dr. Matthew Davis,  Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Center for Disease Control

Michigan was hit hard by the fungal meningitis outbreak, which stemmed from tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center. According to the Center for Disease Control, 264 cases have been reported in the state – more than 100 more than any other state in the nation.

Victims and their families are urged to file claims for possible compensation through a $100 million victim compensation fund created by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts; however, time is running short.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood banks in Michigan had much lower donation rates this week due to the weather.

Michigan Blood is a non-profit blood bank that usually collects 2,200 units of blood every week.

Spokesman Jim Childress says this week, donations dropped to 800.

“We do need people to donate at a higher rate than they normally do, and take this very seriously and help out the nation's blood supply,” says Childress.

The group is offering donors $10 Meijer gift cards and expanding its hours of operation through next Friday.

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An increase of cases of the flu in Michigan is prompting some hospitals to limit who can visit sick patients. They hope it’ll help prevent the spread of the flu.

University of Michigan’s hospitals aren’t letting kids younger than 12 visit the most vulnerable patients.

At Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, there are similar restrictions, along with the number of visitors, or in some units, only immediate family members.

Dr. David Davenport is the medical director of  infection prevention and control at Borgess.

Douglas Jordan, M.A. / Centers for Disease Control

The same flu strain that caused the 2009 flu pandemic is back again this year.

Angela Minicuci  is a spokesperson for the state Department of Community Health.

She says everyone should be protected from H1N1, not just those considered high-risk, like the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses.

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Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers are seeing patients who’ve been injured during this cold snap.

Dr. Scott Lazzara is an urgent care physician at McLaren Greater Lansing.  He says he’s seen a lot of slip and falls.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are falling, breaking their wrist, hurting their back, spraining their ankles,” says Lazzara.

Lazzara says people are so bundled up to fight the cold their vision is impaired and they're less able to avoid slipping and falling.

People in rural areas trying to enroll for health insurance as part of the new Affordable Care Act can face special challenges. Registration must happen online, and many people in Michigan’s rural counties do not have a home computer or access to the Internet. 

Moshe Reuveni / Flickr

The ACLU is suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on behalf of a Michigan woman. At the heart of the issue is whether women can get appropriate medical care at a Catholic hospital.

This is becoming more important because more secular hospitals are merging with Catholic-affiliated health care providers. By our count, of the 187 hospitals in Michigan, 26 of them are Catholic. That's 14%.

*Listen to our interview above.

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Michigan’s plan to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 300,000 low-income residents has been approved by the federal government. The state’s plan will require co-pays and health care savings accounts.

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Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill into law that clears the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. But that’s only if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a legal prescription drug.

There’s no clear sign that will happen any time soon.

e-cigarettedirect.com

Electronic cigarettes may be smoke-free, but they do contain nicotine, and that has parents worried.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated inhalers that simulate cigarettes.

Dr. Matthew Davis is director of the National Poll on Children's Health from C.S. Mott Children's hospital in Ann Arbor.

He says the devices are unregulated and no long-term health studies have been done.

http://uofmhealthblogs.org

A new organization in Ypsilanti that promotes cancer awareness for Native Americans is struggling to stay afloat.

Shoshana Beth Phillips is executive director of Heritage of Healing. It incorporates native traditions and activities into its services, and supports families with a parent dealing with cancer. (Phillips is originally from the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer seven years ago.) 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan residents are expected to be among the biggest beneficiaries of a $100 million settlement with a Massachusetts pharmacy company linked to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

Authorities say 22 of the 64 people who died in the outbreak were from Michigan.

Attorneys for creditors of the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center said Monday that they've reached a preliminary settlement to create a victim compensation fund worth more than $100 million.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Flint’s Hurley Medical Center faced national media scrutiny when an African-American nurse was told not to care for a baby at a patient’s request. The case was settled outside of court.

Julie Gafkay represented that nurse and says she was not alone.

cswe.org

Social workers in Michigan are starting to wear many hats as health-care reform is implemented.

The expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of the state Health Insurance Exchange is expanding health-care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders.

Robert Sheehan is the executive director of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties.

He says all the changes healthcare are broadening the scope of social workers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood donations tend to drop at hospitals and clinics across Michigan at this time of year.

That's why officials are urging Michiganders to consider rolling up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift.

Dan Fox, with the American Red Cross, says between school vacations, snowy weather and busy schedules, the number of blood donations drop over the holidays, while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It was October 1 when the Healthcare.gov website opened for business.The rocky launch of the public portal to the Affordable Care Act has consumed much of the nation's attention and news space.

The December 23 enrollment deadline is at hand. That's when you have to have signed up if you want a policy by January 1.

We wanted to see if the consumer experience with Healthcare.gov has improved - see what problems remain - and find out how many of us have been able to complete applications and actually select a marketplace plan.

Don Hazaert joined us today. He's the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. It's one of four navigator agencies in our state for the Affordable Care Act.

You can find the agencies here.

Hazaert said, no question, there have been significant frustrations with the enrollment process, but that has changed since December 1. The Healthcare.gov website is working much better. Hazaert says those people who have signed up since December 1 have had a much smoother experience, especially those signing up with a new account.

Navigators are still trying to work with those individuals who started the process prior to December 1. We asked so of our listeners about their experiences with signing up for health care coverage.

Tom is 57 and lives in Ann Arbor and has been out of work for a year and a half. He's been paying for health insurance out of pocket for himself and his wife. It's been very expensive. His insurance company helped him sign up on Healthcare.gov. He received a subsidy to help him cover his costs. His online experience was good. 

"The price of the new policy is about half the price of the old policy and the deductible is about half as well, so I'm in a win-win situation as far as that's concerned," said Tom.

Diane Kay is 33-year-old attorney from Brighton, MI. She had a job change and hasn't been insured since 2007. She has a pre-existing condition so insurance companies wouldn't cover her, or it was prohibitively expensive. She's still paying back a lot of debt she incurred from a stay in the hospital. She got insurance through Healthcare.gov in November and said the process was not difficult.

Sasha Acker is 22-year-old social worker from Kalamazoo. She works part-time and doesn't get insurance from the company she works for. She had an extremely frustrating experience with Healthcare.gov, but was eventually able to sign up for coverage. She's excited to have insurance but has not been able to log back in to make her first payment. 

"I called in about six times, and they told me basically that since they made a bunch of upgrades to the website some of the accounts got corrupted and people can't access them anymore. Nobody has a solution for me," said Acker.

Don Hazaert with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says Acker will need to make a payment before the start of the New Year to get her insurance.

He says her frustration is most likely with the 800 number she's calling and that he suggests she get in touch with a health care navigator in Michigan.

Hazaert says in 2014, they look forward to moving the conversation away from a troubled website to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

Michigan Radio Newsroom

Fewer high school students are smoking cigarettes, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

Researchers with U of M’s Monitoring the Future program have been asking teens about their smoking habits since 1975.  The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In 1996, 49% of 8th graders admitted they had tried smoking a cigarette. This year that number dropped to just 15%.

Morguefile

The United States needs to do a better job of fighting the spread of infectious disease. And so does the state of Michigan.

That's according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report looked at whether states met ten key indicators showing their capacity to prevent and control infectious disease. Michigan met only five out of ten.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michiganders are signing up for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the federal website made it difficult for people to sign up initially.

In Michigan, fewer than 1400 people signed up in October. But after a website overhaul, more than five thousand Michiganders completed the process in November.

Capital Gains/©Dave Trumpie

Michigan is getting poor marks in a new national health survey.

For 24 years, the United Health Foundation has looked at the healthy or unhealthy habits of Americans.  

According to the American Health Rankings out today, nationally fewer people are smoking and more people are exercising. The national obesity rate held steady, which is the first time since 1998 that the survey didn’t record an increase.

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