Health

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Men who live on one side of Rawsonville Rd. have a life expectancy that's six years longer than men on the other side.

In fact, the life expectancy for males in Washtenaw County is the equivalent of Switzerland, while in Wayne County it's the equivalent of Syria. 

Ron French is a contributing writer for Bridge Magazine, and recently published a story about the health disparities between Wayne and Washtenaw counties, and spoke with us about what he found.

Drugsonline.com

University of Michigan researchers say more than forty percent of parents are making a serious mistake when they try to treat their toddlers for a cough or cold.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under age of four. The drugs have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects.

But a new poll by U of M researchers says more than 40% of parents are using the medicine to treat their toddlers.

wikipedia.com

The state is encouraging Michigan health plans to provide genetic counseling and testing for some types of breast cancer. 

Breast and ovarian cancer can run in families. Sometimes it's caused by an underlying genetic change passed from parent to child.

Jenna McLosky, who's the cancer genomics education coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health, says women who have a family history of breast cancer should consider tests for a change in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes.

Maria Morell / University of Michigan

Right to Life of Michigan is criticizing a University of Michigan research project that will use fetal stem cells.

U of M announced this week it will lead a clinical trial looking at a potential treatment for ALS -- known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The nerve disease often kills people within three to four years after diagnosis.

Ed Rivet of Right To Life of Michigan says the stem cells U of M will inject into ALS patients come from an aborted fetus. The group is opposed to that and to embryonic stem cell research.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is set to lead a national trial in the use of stem cell injections to study their effects on the symptoms of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

U-M will collaborate with Emory University in the Phase II clinical trial, pending approval by  the Institutional Review Board, which could take about a month. The FDA has approved the trial.

It's estimated between 30,000 to 50,000 people in the United States have ALS.

Sono Tamaki / Creative Commons

On an average day in Michigan, two babies die. That alarming statistic comes from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which says only 14 other states have worse infant mortality rates.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is with the Kids Count project at the Michigan League for Public Policy. She says expanding Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care act could make a big difference in reducing this sad statistic.

"If we care about what's happening to kids in this state, we need to make this investment at the very beginning of life to make sure that more kids are born healthy."

"The Affordable Care Act would insure that more mothers to be would have ongoing access to care which is important in order to have a healthy pregnancy."

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether to expand Michigan's Medicaid rolls. There is some opposition to the idea. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pick up the tab for the expansion through 2016.

e-how.com

Michigan workers are losing their health-care coverage at a greater rate than any other state.

In 2000, about 78 percent of Michigan workers got insurance through their employer.

By 2011, that fell to about 63 percent.

Lynn Blewett is a University of Minnesota professor who took part in the national study funded by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Felix de Cossio / White House

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A Grand Rapids hospital has broken ground on a $54 million expansion and renovation project and the establishment of a cancer program named after former first lady Betty Ford.

The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital announced plans Tuesday to double space for patients. The project also includes renovating three buildings and adding about 300 jobs in nursing, therapy and other specialties.

Ford's daughter Susan Ford Bales announced the creation of The Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program in honor of her mother and grandmother, Hortense Neahr Bloomer. Both women were active supporters of the hospital and Betty Ford brought such previously taboo subjects as breast cancer into the public arena by candidly discussing her battle with it.

Mary Free Bed is a nonprofit hospital providing rehabilitation for children and adults.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A federal judge has ruled that Blue Cross must pay hundreds of Michigan families who were denied coverage for behavioral therapy for children with autism.

Blue Cross contends the therapy is experimental, but doctors disagree.

The ruling may cost Blue Cross about five million dollars.

Farm Rich

Two people from Michigan are among those sickened in a nationwide E. coli outbreak.

The E. coli outbreak has sickened 24 people in 15 states, including the two in Michigan.

The contamination has been traced to Farm Rich frozen food products including mini pizza slices, mini quesadillas with cheese and chicken, philly cheese steaks

with cheese, and mozzarella bites. The recalled products were sold at Kroger, Spartan Stores and other chain supermarkets.

kbohn216 / MorgueFile

Babies spit up -- a lot. It often happens when they eat too quickly  or too much. It's normal, but it sure can scare parents.

A University of Michigan study says doctors should be careful about using labels to describe babies with upset stomachs.

Dr. Beth Tarini, an assistant professor of pediatrics at U-M, says when doctors use terms like gastroesophageal reflux disease -- or GERD -- the only thing most parents hear is "disease."

"It can transform the way the parent views the child's health. It can take a parent who has a healthy child, and have that parent start to believe that that child is actually sick," Tarini says."Parents come into the office, understandably distressed that their baby is spitting up."

Tarini says sometimes physicians, in trying to help the parents, will reach for anything they can do to help, which can lead to the overuse of antacids, like Zantac.

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) - The Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue at sundown Tuesday and continue to be illuminated at night for the entire month as part of an autism awareness campaign.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority is working with several corporations and organizations for "Light It Blue Michigan." All costs are paid by private donations.

moderncog / MorgueFile

Beginning in October, people can sign up to get help paying for health coverage under of the Affordable Care Act.

In Michigan, some 745,000 people will qualify, according to Families USA, a national non-profit organization for health care consumers.

Executive director Ron Pollack says in Michigan, 91 percent of those who will qualify for the tax credit are working families.

"In Wayne County, we estimate it's over 147,000 people; in Oakland County it's about 72,000 people; in Macomb County it's over 59,000 and in Kent County it's almost 46,000," Pollack says.

University of Michigan Medical School

The University of Michigan Health System has begun training teams of palliative care specialists. The Adult Palliative Medicine Program puts more focus on helping patients manage the physical and emotional pain from chronic disease and dying. 

U-M Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Dr. Raymond Yung  is guiding the program. He says some patients think suffering is just the way it is -- that they're supposed to be tough. Some people may worry about addiction.

"This is not a reason for anyone to withhold pain medication that they need," Yung says. "In this patient population, actual issues with addiction is not a big problem at all."

UofMHealth.org

How much do you know about palliative care?

If your answer is, 'not a lot,' you're not alone.

Though palliative care can serve an important role in a patient's life, it doesn't get much attention. 

Let's start off with a definition from Dr. Sekaran. 

Dr. Nishant Sekaran is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan, and is the author of reports about the growing palliative care industry in Michigan that Michigan Radio is airing this week. 

"When I talk to my patients, we are going to be very aggressive about focusing on your quality of life," said Sekaran. "That doesn't mean that you can't also be aggressive with pursuing medical therapy that is consistent with your goals and wishes about your care. Palliative care is really about clarifying what the patient's goals of care are while focusing on the physical and psycho-social  aspects of illness."

Army Medicine / Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has called for a four county grand jury investigation into contaminated steroids linked to hundreds of cases of illness and 14 deaths in the state. Schuette filed the request today  with the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Flatbush Gardener / Flickr

Modern medicine is full of innovation.

It can extend life in ways once thought impossible, but those breakthroughs come at great cost and potential risk.

Dr. Fitz Blake believes the future of medicine lies in returning to the core of the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Blake is a Michigan physician well versed in the fast pace of the emergency room.

He’s shocked people back to life, set broken bones, and stabilized gunshot victims.  Blake is imposing.  He’s built like a linebacker, and speaks in a deep baritone voice.  
 
He says his traditional medical training taught him and other doctors like him how to identify disease, do procedures, and select the right medicines.  But he’s troubled by what current medical training doesn’t seem to emphasize as much, it’s what health policy experts refer to as “patient centered care.”

Flatbush Gardener / Flickr

Palliative care is a medical specialty designed to relieve patient suffering by focusing on the needs of the whole person.  Many people think palliative care is like hospice care, but palliative care is not just for the dying.  

Rose Mark is 82 years old and lives in a retirement community. She moved into the retirement community about ten years ago, right after her husband died.  It's close to her oldest daughter, Gloria, and her grandchildren. 

Michigan aims to identify health risk behaviors

Mar 23, 2013

Michigan is rolling out new guidelines designed to help health providers better identify teens with high-risk behaviors.

The statewide guidelines recommend that adolescents be assessed for health-risk behaviors, such as violence, at least once a year. They also recommend that health care providers use one of four screening tools to ensure adolescents are consistently screened statewide.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says high-risk behaviors are the primary cause of the death or serious injury of about three-quarters of teens.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

A new survey shows your health may depend on where you live in Michigan.

The University of Wisconsin puts out an annual assessment of the health of the nation’s counties. The survey compares different factors, including access to clinical care and personal habits, like smoking.

As you may expect, counties surrounding Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids score high on the survey, but so do several counties in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

parenting-skill-info.com

The Michigan Department of Community Health released its autism plan today

According to the plan, Michigan lacks a variety of critical services to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled ASD:

an “urgent public health concern” as the prevalence rate increased across the country to one in 88 children. It is imperative to understand the long-term implications of the identified needs of individuals with ASD given the major fiscal crisis if they do not receive adequate services.

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
Wikipedia

Today, things change for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

After Governor Rick Snyder signed the law this afternoon, the state's largest health insurer will no longer be a 'benevolent trust' owned by the people of Michigan.

Instead, it will transition into a customer-owned, nonprofit, mutual insurance company.

As such, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will be able to operate without as much state oversight.

Migrant Legal Action Program

Ninety-thousand migrant workers and their families travel to Michigan each year to pick the state's fruit and vegetable crops.

Most travel from Texas and Florida to get here.  That's a long way.

State officials say those workers often have a choice about where they'll work in the summer - and it doesn't have to be Michigan. 

So keeping migrant housing decent and safe is crucial.

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Mikerussell / wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation overhauling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The bills let the state's largest health insurer transform into a customer-owned nonprofit and ends its tax-exempt status. The Republican governor signed the legislation Monday at a meeting of the company's board of directors in Detroit.

user blwphotography / Flickr

Last year, Michigan enacted a law that requires insurance companies to cover childhood autism treatments.

Today, the Michigan Department of Community Health will roll out its autism coverage plan.

There are about 50,000 people in Michigan with autism.  It’s a disorder that effects communication and social skills.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a bill making its way through the state legislature that would require Michigan hospitals to reveal when they will withhold treatment from severely ill patients.

Many hospitals have ‘futility’ policies.   The policies outline when the hospitals will withhold treatment from a patient on the grounds that further care would be futile and would simply waste hospital resources.

The policies are mainly for internal use and not widely disclosed.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Michigan health officials say an 80-year-old Traverse City-area man is 17th person from the state to die as a result of contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says at least 258 people have contracted illnesses including fungal meningitis that are part of a national disease outbreak. That's up from 256 March 4.

The department said Monday that it's now confirmed a Grand Traverse County man's death.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia

Dr. Kenneth Rosenman says the current federal system for reporting work-related injuries is not working.

Rosenman is chief of  Michigan State University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He says a joint report with the Michigan Department of Community Health found the number of amputations resulting from on-the-job injuries were more than 60 percent higher than the official estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

cdc.gov

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan health officials are reporting seven more infections linked to contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

The Michigan Department of Community Health said Monday that at least 256 people have contracted illnesses including fungal meningitis that are part of a national disease outbreak. That's up from 249 two weeks earlier.

The total includes three Michigan residents treated in Indiana and listed in that state's count.

The Michigan agency says 16 people have died in the outbreak.

It reports 68 cases of fungal meningitis, 161 epidural abscesses, one stroke and 26 peripheral joint infections in Michigan tied to the steroids. They're injected to treat neck and back pain.

Dan Bobkoff / Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature and a nurses’ union are calling for a state law that would require hospitals to maintain staff levels without resorting to mandatory overtime.

Sixteen states currently have rules regarding staff-to-patient ratios.

Right now, California is the only state with a law that sets minimum staffing levels in hospitals.

State Representative Jon Switalski (D-Warren) is about to introduce legislation to set staffing requirements in emergency rooms and other hospital wards.

“Nurse staffing can literally be a life-or-death issue and affects families from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula,” said Switalski.

Scott Nesbit is a registered nurse from Muskegon. He says he and other nurses have experienced mistakes or a “very near miss” caused by short-staffing.

“I don’t think people realize that when your nurse is handling far too many patients, or working a double-shift or been mandated to stay over, it’s probably because the hospital wants it that way,” said Nesbit.

Similar legislation has failed in previous sessions of the Legislature.

The Michigan Health & Hospitals Association opposes the idea.

The group says a law that sets staffing requirements would rob administrators of the flexibility they need to meet different situations. The association says the bigger problem is a shortage of trained nurses.

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