health

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report gives Michigan mixed grades on the state of people’s health.

The United Health Foundation ranks Michigan near the middle of its annual report. The state ranks 34th overall.

Hawaii topped the rankings, while Mississippi sits on the bottom.

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LANSING – Michigan health officials say they are investigating severe respiratory illnesses in children but haven't confirmed if the cases are associated with a national outbreak.

The Michigan Department of Community Health said Tuesday it's received reports of an increase in such illnesses and is working with local health agencies. Officials are forwarding samples to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cases of the suspected germ known as enterovirus 68 have been confirmed in Missouri and Illinois. The CDC is testing to determine if the virus caused illnesses reported in 10 states, including Michigan.

The virus is an uncommon strain of a common family of viruses that typically hit from summertime through autumn. The virus can cause mild coldlike symptoms but officials say these cases are unusually severe with serious breathing problems.

Courtesy of Children First

Recent reports show an early uptick in hand, foot and mouth disease.

The Kent County Health Department is seeing an increase of cases of the highly contagious virus, which normally occurs in August.

The virus is most common in children and is spread similarly to the common cold. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and sores on the mouth, hands and feet.

Lisa LaPlante represents the Kent County Health Department. She says the uptick could be attributed to public pools and playgrounds.

Water faucet.
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

This week, the Environment Report is taking a look at Michigan’s silent poison — arsenic.

Federal standards allow public drinking water supplies to have arsenic levels of up to 10 parts per billion (ppb), but these standards do not apply to private well owners (that's left up to the well owner to determine).

And in counties throughout Michigan, some wells have much higher levels of arsenic than this "maximum contaminant level" set by the EPA.

Higher levels of arsenic in drinking water have been linked to skin cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer, among others.

But are lower levels of arsenic a threat to human health?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A handful of Michigan county health department leaders say “health” should play a bigger role in local decision making. 

Health department officials from Wayne, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties met in Lansing this past week to strategize how to change the way local governments do pretty much everything. 

Linda Vail is Ingham County’s Chief Health Officer.   She says city and county leaders often fail to consider the potential effects their decisions will have on their community’s health.

cdc.gov

The fungal meningitis outbreak isn't that far behind us. 

Two years ago, a Massachusetts compounding facility sold tainted steroid medications around the country. What happened was disastrous: 22 Michigan residents lost their lives to meningitis and more than 260 were infected. 

New legislation could prevent that from happening again. A bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, may be voted on this week. It calls for more background checks on compounding pharmacies and more facility inspections.

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The controversy over long wait times and improper scheduling practices at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics has cost the job of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

It led to an internal VA audit of its health care facilities.

And that has caused the VA to flag three facilities in Michigan for a closer look.

For this conversation, we asked what might be happening at those facilities, and what this means to veterans in Michigan.

We're joined by Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler and Dr. Joe Schwartz, physician and former Republican Congressman from West Michigan. Dr. Schwartz is now a visiting lecturer at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview above.

rick/ Flickr

The government wants pregnant women to eat more fish. Yesterday the FDA and EPA issued new draft advice that urges pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat at least eight to twelve ounces of fish a week.

The update comes 10 years after the last recommendation, which didn't specify a minimum.

The FDA is worried that fears over mercury levels in seafood have kept many pregnant women from getting enough of the nutritional value needed for their babies.

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Childhood lead exposure costs Michigan about $300 million a year.

That's according to a report by the University of Michigan and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health.

They recommend lead remediation projects for around 100,000 houses throughout the state at a cost of $600 million. They say the program would pay for itself in three years.

Paul Haan is executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. He says more remediation programs would be a good long-term investment for the state. 

“At the end of the day we’re going to continue to pay the cost of the problem of lead poisoning if older housing is not remediated,” said Haan.

“So the question we really need to ask ourselves is do we want to pay the increased cost of suffering the consequences, or do we want to pay the lower cost of remediation?”

About 70% of childhood lead exposure comes from lead-based paint in older homes.

Earlier this week, the state Legislature approved an additional $500,000 for lead hazard control in next year’s state budget. The change is pending approval from the governor.

Haan says this shows that “public will is building and that state leadership recognizes the need for the kind of investments called for in the report.” 

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

getoverit.org

A basic tenet of the Affordable Care Act is preventive care: Get people into the health care system before disease or disability set in.

But that's highlighting a problem with our medical education system. Medical schools are turning out too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians. Cynthia Canty spoke with Dr. William Strampel, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. 

User: Vangore / Wikipedia

Seventy-five years ago, one of the most influential books ever written was published. It has sold over 30 million copies. And what's inside this book has changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

The official title of the book is "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism" written by the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson.

Dr. Howard Markel joined us today. He's the director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. 

Wikipedia.org

Since January, Michigan hospitals have been dealing with the effects of a nationwide shortage of a critical supply of intravenous fluid.

The fluid is used in a wide variety of intravenous therapy, including chemotherapy. The shortage is blamed on reduced production and increased demand during the winter flu season.

Laura Appel is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. She says hospitals are working to share what fluid they do have.

Ever since the day Garrett Peterson was born, his parents have had to watch him suddenly just stop breathing.

"He could go from being totally fine to turning blue sometimes — not even kidding — in 30 seconds," says Garrett's mother, Natalie Peterson, 25, of Layton, Utah. "It was so fast. It was really scary."

The good news is that there seems to be increasing interest in mental health issues at all levels of government.

Yesterday, the Michigan Health and Wellness Commission released a new report on improving mental health services in this state. This was a special, bipartisan commission including four legislators, chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

The study, “Improving Quality of Life by Supporting Independence and Self-Determination” is available online.

It is short, straightforward, and easy to understand.

It calls for legislative action, and calls on all of us to reassess the way we view, as well as treat, those with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

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.

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.

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.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 2013

Overall, 44% of parents say they'd allow their child to take part in medical research if the child had the disease being studied.

Yet only 5% say their child has participated in a medical study.  

That's according to a recent National Poll on Children's Health conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Morgue File

The number of Michigan deaths from drug overdose has tripled since 1999. The majority of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs.

Michigan has the 18th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, according to a national report on Prescription Drug Abuse by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in Washington, D.C. 

Flickr user Erik Eti Smit

Children whose families qualify for Medicaid are now eligible to receive free dental care in Washtenaw, Ingham and Ottawa counties through the Healthy Kids Dental program. Beginning today, 64,000 kids are added to the program which provides dental coverage to about half a million children in Michigan.

The Michigan budget was expanded to include this coverage. Angela Minicuci with the Michigan Department of Community Health says the program will hopefully expand to the five remaining counties that aren't yet covered under the program -- Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Kalamazoo.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State health officials are celebrating the 50th anniversary of a screening program that has saved the lives of more than seven thousand newborns.

Starting with just one test in 1963, Michigan doctors now routinely test newborn infants for more than 50 potentially life threatening conditions.

Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.    He says infant screening is one of the best success stories in public health.

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Federal judge will hear challenge to gay marriage ban

A federal judge is allowing a legal challenge to Michigan adoption laws and its ban on same-sex marriage to move forward. Judge Bernard Friedman says the decision to strike down DOMA last week left unanswered questions that could be addressed by this case. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are raising three children together; they say Michigan law violates the equal protection rights of their children. The judge called a July 10th hearing to chart the next steps in the case.

Legislation to improve legal defense for indigent Michiganders

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation yesterday that will make changes to the state’s public defense system. The bill will create a commission to set statewide standards to ensure effective legal representation for poor defendants. The commission will also monitor counties to make sure each one is meeting those standards.

Flint EM warns possibility of bankruptcy

Flint's Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, warns the city could run out of money if it's forced to pay retirees full health benefits. A federal judge recently ruled Flint has to give retired workers the benefits they were promised. Kurtz says the decision hurts retirees more than it helps and that bankruptcy would mean much bigger cuts for retirees and current workers.

Eight people have overdosed from heroin over the past two days in Washtenaw County, according to the health department and the sheriff's office. One person died in Saline, and seven others were hospitalized.

Sergeant Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office says heroin use in Michigan is increasing.

gov.cbia.com

A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

Senator Levin speaks with military member
Carl Levin

  The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

There are 670,000 veterans in Michigan — the 11th highest population of veterans in the US.

However, Michigan comes in last place (after Guam) when it comes to the amount of federal money spent per veteran. The benefits and assistance exist, but why aren't they being used?

Jason Allen is the senior deputy director for veteran affairs for Michigan's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. He pointed to three reasons that can be attributed to Michigan's low ranking.

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A Michigan mother whose twins were conceived using  in-vitro technology after their father died is asking the state Supreme Court to allow the children to get death benefits and inheritance rights.

Pam and Jeff Mattison had a daughter using in-vitro fertilization, and wanted more children.

But Jeff Mattison was ill, and died just before the procedure was performed again.

Pam Mattison had a twin boy and girl nine months after her husband died. She applied for Social Security benefits for the twins, but was denied.

The Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan. The plant was decommissioned in 1997.
NRC

A new federal study will look at cancer risk around nuclear facilities.

The National Academy of Sciences study will look at cancer types in infants and the general population near six nuclear power plants and one nuclear-fuel plant for the Navy.

The sites being studied are in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Researchers will look at the area around the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Map of Healthcare Facilities which received three lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) recalled from New England Compounding Center.
CDC

News about the meningitis outbreak continues this morning. The outbreak has been linked to patients receiving steroid injections for back pain. The steroid shots could be contaminated with a meningitis-causing fungus.

From the CDC:

At this point, there is not enough evidence to determine the original source of the outbreak, however there is a link to an injectable steroid medication.

The company responsible for the medication, New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., announced a recall on Oct. 6 "of all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts."

Ed White of the Associated Press reports on the heartbreaking case of 67-year-old Lilian Cary of Howell, Michigan.

Late last month, Cary had been responding to treatment at the University of Michigan hospital:

"She was responding to medication. Her spirits were up. Her fever was broken," George Cary said. "She was walking the hallway and Skyping with grandsons."

But she became unresponsive Sept. 26, and eventually was removed from life support after suffering a stroke, he said.

Cary said he was informed Saturday that his wife had been treated with tainted steroids for back pain. The doctor at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, one of four Michigan clinics to get shipments from the Massachusetts pharmacy, said Cary also was at risk.

George Cary is now waiting to hear whether he was exposed when he received an injectable steroid shot.

The CDC reports that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in the outbreak, but who is in danger is unclear.

From the Associated Press:

About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid sent to 23 states have been recalled. Inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus, and tests were being done on other vials.

The first known case of the rarely seen fungal meningitis was diagnosed last month in Tennessee.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a bacteria or virus. Exposure from fungi is a less common way to contract meningitis.

Every woman sees those skinny, photo-shopped models in magazines, and it probably makes us all little crazy.  But some women internalize that pressure more than others - and your genes could be the reason. 

A growing number of studies are linking eating disorders to genetics, but a new study from Michigan State University is the first to find that an early indicator of eating disorders - namely, how much of the "thin-ideal" a woman buys into - could also have a genetic component.  

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Governor Snyder's office / State of Michigan

Update 5:30 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed an overhaul of the rules covering Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. Blue Cross would have to pay taxes adding up to $100 million a year or more.

But the company could also make changes to its rates a lot more quickly and easily. That would help it compete for business.
    
Andy Hetzel is a vice president at Blue Cross. He says the new federal health care law is changing the insurance marketplace and Michigan needs to keep up.

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