Health

The 40-foot long RV was converted into a doctor's office on wheels.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Kids in Flint will soon get checkups from a doctor’s office on wheels. The 40-foot long blue RV is a new initiative from Hurley Children’s Hospital to help kids who have been exposed to lead.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, was in Flint on Friday to announce the arrival of the clinic.

“We’re talking about being able to make sure children get testing, get information about what to do in terms of nutrition, getting their regular doctor visits; any specialty care they need for themselves as well as their families,” she says.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has had to swing into high gear in the wake of the Flint water crisis.

“We traditionally did about 1.6 million pounds out of the food bank, in January of 2015,” said president Bill Kerr. “This year we did over 3 million pounds.”

Kerr says water accounted for the increase, with about 1.4 million pounds of water distributed at 140 sites last month.

Now, Kerr says the food bank is tweaking its operations again.

www.defense.gov

When Michigan firefighters get work-related cancer, they’re supposed to be covered by the state. But that’s not happening. 

Because more than a year after lawmakers created a cancer-coverage fund for firefighters, they still haven't put any money in it. 

Two dogs in Flint test positive for lead toxicity

Feb 7, 2016
A husky/malamute mix dog
bullcitydogs / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Officials are reminding people to make sure pets aren't drinking unfiltered Flint tap water, after two area dogs tested positive for lead toxicity in recent months.

State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill says the tests were confirmed in October 2015 and January 2016.

He said both dogs, a stray and a family pet, could've been exposed to Flint's lead-tainted water.

Both dogs are still alive.

Symptoms of lead exposure in pets vary greatly and can include vomiting, diarrhea and changes in behavior.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is defending how his office responded to an email flagging a potential link between a surge in Legionnaires' disease and Flint's water.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press Friday that an aide, Harvey Hollins, asked the Department of Environmental Quality to look into a local official's concerns further. He says the DEQ was skeptical of any link last March and "didn't bring it forward" again.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests suggest filters work even in Flint homes with high levels of lead in the drinking water.

EPA officials say 50 homes have tested at 150 parts per billion of lead, well above the federal action level, and at the filters’ posted limit.

But the EPA’s Mark Durno says tests at 10 of those homes show filters can still remove the lead.

“Even at those higher levels, even the ones that came back still over 150, when you pass them through the filter they are non-detect,” says Durno.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Since October, plumbers with United Association Local 370 in Flint have been volunteering to install filters and faucets to get lead out of people's tap water.

On Saturday, the local guys got some help – from a small army of more than 300 plumbers driving in from Lansing, Detroit, Saginaw, and other cities across Michigan.  

They get a rousing, union-pride welcome from Local 370 official Harold Harrington.

"We did not cause this American tragedy in Flint," Harrington tells the group, "but we certainly can help correct the damage that has been done!"

Marc Edwards alerts the people of Flint that they should take precautions when dealing with drinking water in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University was one of the first the raise the alarm about staggeringly high levels of lead in Flint water.

For that, he was ignored by staff at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

That was last summer. Now, Edwards is returning to Flint, bringing his expertise on water treatment and corrosion to the new Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Council.

flickr user Bart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state Senate today unanimously approved $28 million to help Flint with its water crisis. Three million of that has been set aside to “aid with utility/unpaid bills issues.”

Whether or not to pay for water they’re unable to use has been a big question for Flint residents, whose water rates are among the highest in Michigan. Just today residents and activists protested at Flint City Hall, calling for a moratorium on water bills.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

It seems unthinkable that some people in Flint might still be drinking water from the tap.  

But some undocumented immigrants in the city are just now finding out that lead contamination has made the water unsafe to drink.

That means some babies and toddlers may have been drinking poisoned water for weeks or perhaps months longer than others.

Jessica Olivares knows the new routine of daily life in Flint well by now - buying cases of bottled water at the grocery store, standing in line to get free water at the nearest fire station.

Mercedes Mejia

Like many residents of Flint, She'a Cobb doesn't trust the water that comes out of her faucets. So now, every day is a carefully orchestrated one — from brushing her teeth to taking a shower.

Cobb is a 31-year old bus driver who lives with her daughter and mother in Flint, a struggling blue-collar town where 40% of people live in poverty.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  DETROIT (AP) - The head of a Flint hospital where Legionella bacteria were discovered says the Flint River was suspected as the source of the contaminant that causes Legionnaires' disease.

  Don Kooy says McLaren hospital spent more than $300,000 on a water treatment system and turned to bottled water.

  The state says at least 87 Legionnaires' cases, including nine deaths, were confirmed throughout Genesee County during a 17-month period - a major spike. But officials are unsure about a firm link to the Flint River.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Stress, frustration, and depression may be among the feelings that Flint residents are experiencing right now. Tragedies and disasters like the Flint water crisis often bring out strong emotions.

Crisis counseling is immediately available for people affected by the ongoing emergency.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A nondescript warehouse on Flint’s north side is now the epicenter of the city’s response to its drinking water crisis.

Forklifts are busy moving flats loaded with cases of bottled water from semis onto trucks that deliver them to local distribution centers. There are at least two million bottles of water in the warehouse at any one time.

“Actually ‘warehouse’ is a misnomer,” says Don Faust, the logistics manager for the American Red Cross. “It’s actually a pass-thru. We try to get everything that comes in to go out just as fast.”

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Flint water crisis has taken a new turn, with Governor Snyder's announcement that there's been an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint.

Genesee County had 87 cases of Legionnaires', with ten deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Prior years only saw between six and 10 cases.

The outbreak started soon after the city switched to water from the Flint River, and ended after it went back to Detroit water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are efforts underway to help Flint children exposed to lead in their drinking water.

There’s also an effort to see if those interventions are working.

Children exposed to high levels of lead benefit from better nutrition and early education. A new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital will try to find the best ways to do that.

Aron Sousa is the interim director of the MSU College of Human Medicine. He says intervention is good, but “the key thing is figuring out if your intervention is working.”

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Today marks the 141st birthday of a Nobel prize-winner who is well-known to baby-boomers, but perhaps less well-known to later generations.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a physician, philosopher, theologian, organist and humanitarian. He was German and French and is known for his charitable work including opening a hospital in Africa.

Yet, his legacy is not without controversy.

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has set up a charitable fund so people can donate money to help Flint children.

The fund, called the Flint Child Health & Development Fund, is meant to support the delivery of public health, medical, and community services to improve health outcomes for children exposed to lead as a result of Flint's water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress could take up legislation this month to require a federal standard for labeling genetically modified food.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says the public has a right to know that the food their families are eating contains genetically modified organisms or GMO’s.

opioids, prescription drugs, vicodin
Sharyn Morrow/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan has a growing problem with what's called "uncoordinated prescription opioid use," and it's putting hundreds of patients at risk.

“In Michigan we went from 81 deaths in 1999 to 519 deaths in 2013 from opioids,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

A new report from CHRT finds that most opioids are used and prescribed appropriately, but a small number of patients receive numerous prescriptions from separate prescribers within a short period of time.

via stjohnprovidence.org

Most nurse-anesthetists at two Detroit-area hospitals lost their jobs Thursday, after they refused to sign a contract outsourcing their jobs to a private company.

The nurses worked for Saint John Providence hospitals in Southfield and Novi.

In October, the hospitals gave them a choice: either sign a contract with a brand-new company run by a hospital anesthesiologist, or “voluntarily resign” their jobs.

After weeks of contentious talks, 66 decided on the latter.

MSU / Michigan State University

A new study out of Michigan State University found that, among adolescents, 14- and 15-year-olds are particularly vulnerable to opioid addiction.

Looking at a national sample of 42,000 respondents, the study found that 14- and 15-year-olds are two to three times more likely than 20- and 21-year olds to become dependent on prescription painkillers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials in Michigan have lifted a statewide ban on poultry exhibitions that was put in place earlier this year as a precaution to a bird flu outbreak across the Midwest.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the decision to remove the ban Wednesday comes after the disease risk and status of the outbreak were evaluated.

Poultry and waterfowl shows were banned at fairs and elsewhere to fight the spread of bird flu. It was aimed at preventing the co-mingling of birds from different locations. It could be reinstated if the disease re-emerges.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated 10:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech researchers accuse Michigan health officials of trying to “stonewall” the investigation into lead in Flint’s drinking water.

The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, are available online. 

Marc Edwards says newly obtained internal documents show Department of Health and Human Services employees tried to hide evidence that matched the increased lead levels in children found by doctors at Hurley Medical Center.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new Michigan law lets arenas, camps and other venues stock epinephrine injectors to treat allergic reactions.

  The measure signed this week by Gov. Rick Snyder permits doctors to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense EpiPens to youth sports leagues, amusement parks, religious institutions and other places. The proposed law also establishes storage and training requirements, and limits liability from lawsuits.

  The law follows a 2013 law requiring every public school to have EpiPens.

Clarita / MorgueFile

Twenty-four Michigan hospitals will pay a penalty for having too many patients with infections they contracted while in their care.

That's up from last year, when 21 of the state's hospitals paid the penalty – which is 1% of the hospital's Medicare funding.

Laura Wotruba is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

She says the federal law unfairly punishes teaching and urban hospitals, which have sicker patients.

Andrew3000 / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

To quote actor-writer-comedian Steve Martin: "A day without sunshine is like, you know, night."

Old man winter officially knocks down the seasonal door at 11:48 p.m. next Monday, December 21. The good news is that the days will start to get longer. The bad news:  it will be three months before the days, once again, become longer than night. 

If you are one of those Michiganders whose mood slides downhill as we slide into winter, you've got plenty of company. And it's all tied into the relationship among light, mood and melatonin.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report on the nation’s health says Michigan is taking a few steps forward and a few backward. 

This is the 26th year the United Health Foundation has released its America’s Health Rankings report.    Michigan’s place on the rankings didn’t change much.   The state moved from 34th to 35th on the list this year.  

The Foundation’s Rhonda Randall says like other states, Michigan is continues to struggle with a rising obesity rate.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

Our Issues and Ale discussion about Flint's water crisis was a full house.

Flint residents posed important questions to our panel, which included Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the pediatric residency program at the Hurley Medical Center; Marc Edwards, professor, Virginia Tech University; Michigan Radio's Flint reporter, Steve Carmody; and state Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint.

Portrait of Oscar Wilde, taken by Napoleon Sarony circa 1882
Miscellaneous Items in High Demand collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07757

115 years ago today, a great literary voice was silenced.

Oscar Wilde died November 30, 1900. He was only 46 years old.

Since then, it has been widely held that Wilde succumbed to the ravages of end-stage syphilis.

But some determined modern physicians have done some medical detective work and have developed a much different theory about what killed the great writer: an ear infection.

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