Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

This is the first in a two-part series. Click here to hear part two.

Fifteen people from Michigan have died from fungal meningitis, more than in any other state.

It’s tough to know for sure why Michigan wound up with a full third of all cases nationwide. Bad luck? A graying population seeking pain relief medication that, in this case, turned out to be contaminated? Or a bustling, privatized network of pain clinics spread across the state?

clarita / MorgueFile

Many Michigan residents are carrying an unhealthy amount of weight and the problem is getting worse.

Michigan is the fifth-heaviest state in the nation, according to Michigan Department of Community Health Director James Haveman.

"In 1995, 18% of the adult population was obese in Michigan. By 2010, it had increased to 32 percent," Haveman says. "Currently in Michigan, some 800,000 children and five million adults have a weight problem. If unchanged, obesity could reach 50 percent by 2030."

Stateside: Fending off bitter temperatures with shelters

Jan 23, 2013
Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

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

During these frigid weeks the warmth of a home is invaluable.

But for the homeless, these winter conditions pose life-threatening challenges.

Reverend Chico Daniels, president and chief executive of Mel Trotter Ministries and Cass Community Social Services  executive director, Reverend Faith Fowler, spoke with Cyndy about the necessity of homeless shelters in the winter.

“In the Cass Corridor we have a warming center for 50 homeless women and children. Beyond that we have two regular shelters and some transitional housing,” said Fowler.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

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

Among the flood of bills passed in the waning days of 2012 came House Bill 5711.

The bill was signed by Gov. Snyder last month and became law (Public Act 499 of 2012).

Dr. Lisa Hope Harris Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan spoke with Cyndy about the new law and its implications for the state.

“There are four components to the new law. The first is that health centers that provide 120 or more surgical abortions per year and advertise those abortions be licensed as free-standing surgical centers. The law does include waivers… Clinics will very likely be able to comply with this regulation. That means that women are unlikely to be directly affected by the component of the new law.”

3 new infections in Michigan from bad steroids

Jan 20, 2013

Michigan health officials have reported three more infections in the past week linked to contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says at least 244 people have been infected with illnesses including fungal meningitis that are part of a national disease outbreak. The steroids are used in injections to treat neck and back pain.

University of Michigan

Many Michiganders are among the more than two million Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year. It's the most common malignancy.

The majority will discover they have basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, but about 50,000 people will learn they have melanoma, which is particularly difficult to treat if not caught early.

A free phone application called UMSkinCheck helps people examine their skin and keep track of changes.

Stateside: Assessing mental health in Michigan

Jan 16, 2013

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

Today we looked at Michigan's treatment of mental health.

Milton Mack, Chief Judge of Michigan County Probate Court, and Dr. Michele Reid, Medical Director of Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, spoke with Cyndy about the ways we treat mental health.

“I see case after case of people who didn’t get timely treatment. We have a mental health model in Michigan which is based on inpatient, but we live in an outpatient world….Today we know that early intervention helps people survive,” said Mack.

Robert Couse-Baker / Creative Commons

Maybe people are washing their hands and staying home when they’re sick. Maybe they’re not even going to the doctor’s office; toughing it out at home on the couch instead.

We don’t know why exactly, but the number of confirmed flu cases in Kent County this week dropped 43-percent from the week before. The number of people visiting the emergency room with flu-like symptoms has also decreased.

Statewide numbers are less dramatic, but also down from a peak in December.


“If you haven’t gotten a vaccination yet, get it,” Lisa LaPlant, a Kent County Health Department spokeswoman said. “There is a possibility that we could see resurgence of flu,” she adds.

State health official: No flu vaccine shortage in Michigan

Jan 15, 2013

Michigan Health officials say there is not a shortage of the flu vaccine.

Angela Minicuci  is the spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, and she says while there is enough vaccine, some people may have to wait a few days to get the shot at their local pharmacy.

"There's an unusually high demand at this point in the season than we typically have," she said.

Stateside: Michigan is now fifth most obese state in America

Jan 14, 2013 / The Endocrine Society and The Hormone Health Network

It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of Michigan residents will be obese by 2030.

But don’t throw your salad out in reckless abandon just yet.

There is hope for your waistline, said Dr. Tom Peterson.

Director of Quality, Safety and Community Health at DeVos Children’s Hospital, Peterson helped organize ShapeMichigan.

According to Peterson, obesity is a relatively new problem.

Penywise / MorgueFile

People who take cancer treatments in pill form at home may not be using the medicines properly. 

A study by Michigan State University found that more than 40 percent of people took too many pills or missed doses of their oral cancer medications.

"Unfortunately, that can mean that it's not combating the cancer, or the medication is not able to work because the patient hasn't received enough of the medication," says Sandra Spoelstra, an assistant professor at MSU's College of Nursing.

Spoelstra says some oral anti-cancer agents are taken just once a day.

Stateside: The great grape state

Jan 10, 2013
user farlane / flickr

Michigan is the fourth-largest grape producing state.

This is good news for wine lovers.

According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, there are 101 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually.

Christopher Cook, Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer for Hour Magazine, spoke with Zoe Clark about the state’s growing industry.

“When our auto industry was in so much trouble, the wine industry was beginning to boom. In the past decade it has come the distance and has now reached a point in quality and size where it is being recognized across the country,” said Cook.

wikimedia commons

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are looking into how well stem cells can repair damaged hearts.

It’s part of a national study looking into potential new treatments for people who have suffered severe heart attacks.

“We extract the patient’s stem cells directly from them themselves. And then select for a specific population of stem cells,” said Dr. Gerald Koenig, a Henry Ford cardiologist. “And then re-inject them into the heart, by way of the heart blood vessels.”

clarita / MorgueFile

A federal complaint has been filed against two Lenawee  County hospitals. 

Nurses at Bixby Hospital in Adrian and Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh say chronic understaffing is putting patients at risk. The nurses are asking the National Labor Relations Board to intervene. Dawn Kettinger  is with the Michigan Nurses Association.

She says nurses often have to care for six or seven patients at a time, and are mandated to work 16-hour shifts.

"All the research tells us all of these practices translate to medical errors, more infections, even patient death," Kettinger says. "If you or a loved one needs to use the services of these hospitals, we'll do the absolute best we can, but it's getting tougher and tougher to give you safe care."

Kettinger says staffing levels vary by units, but says on a medical surgical floor, one nurse should not have to take care of more than four patients.

Stateside: Entering flu season equipped with vaccination

Jan 8, 2013
user the consumerist / Flickr

Audio Pending...

Flu vaccinations are invaluable for anyone aiming to stay healthy this winter.

Dr. Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health, stressed the importance of vaccinations.

“It looks like this is going to be one of our worst flu seasons in the past decade. The important thing is that citizens take this seriously.”

According to Sienko, only 20% of the Michigan population has been vaccinated. He recommended that almost everyone over six months of age receive a vaccination.

normalityrelief / morguefile

Parkinson's disease could be added to the list of illnesses that would qualify for medical marijuana use in Michigan.

A public hearing in Lansing later this month will address the issue.

Parkinson's disease  is a disorder of the brain that leads to tremors and stiffness. It can cause difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. 

Dr. Kelvin Chou is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan. He says about one in every 1,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan health officials have confirmed an 11th death in the state linked to tainted steroid injections.

The steroid injections were intended to relieve back pain. But the steroids were contaminated.

Angela Minicuci is with the Department of Community Health.

She says the 87 year old Washtenaw County woman who died December 30th was being treated for an epidural abscess.

Minicuci says abscesses have been the most diagnosed ailment related to the tainted steroid investigation.

Michigan flu cases on the rise, state confirms third child death

Jan 3, 2013
Michigan Department of Community Health

Flu cases in Michigan continue to rise as the Department of Community Health (MDCH) confirmed last week that a third child and at least two adults have died from the illness.

According to the state’s most recent Influenza Surveillance Update, there have been 252 confirmed cases of the flu for the 2012-13 season (starting Sept. 30, 2012).

Edwards Lifesciences

More Michigan hospitals are using a new device to treat a heart condition without  invasive surgery. 

About 1.5 million Americans suffer from aortic stenosis. That's when a valve in the main artery carrying blood out of the heart doesn't fully open.

Stateside: Keeping our New Year's resolutions

Jan 2, 2013
normanack / flickr

New Year’s resolutions.

We may groan about them, we may proclaim that we are “above” making them, but it does seem that the New Year brings about a collective longing for a fresh start.

So, how do you keep going strong as the year goes on? And is it possible to turn a good intention into a lifelong, good habit?

University of Michigan psychologist Michelle Segar says the key to success is the ability to see something like exercise as a way to enhance our lives immediately, instead of the means to achieve a long-term goal.

The University of Michigan is researching an ultrasound scalpel that can detach a single cancer cell from surrounding tissue.

The team found a way to change laser light into sound energy with a beam smaller than a human hair.

The beam blasts and cuts with pressure, rather than heat.  

It may make nearly painless surgery possible since the beam is small enough to avoid nerve fibers.

Hyoung Won Baac worked on the project as a doctoral student.   He says it may allow a surgeon to be extremely delicate.

Teenage alcohol and cigarette use is down across the country, and Michigan is no exception.

That's according to the state's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which collects information on Michigan high school students.

Though many risky behaviors are on the decline, obesity remains the state's biggest health concern, when it comes to students.

Kyle Guerrant helped with the study.   He says the success of the anti-tobacco campaign could help reduce other health concerns.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The number of abscesses linked to contaminated steroids has risen in the past few days in Michigan, with three fresh cases reported since late last week.

The infections are linked to a national outbreak of disease blamed for 67 fungal meningitis cases and 13 deaths in Michigan.

The meningitis cases have remained stable recently, but related non-meningitis infections have continued to grow.

kconnors / MorgueFile

A new report finds Michigan is prepared for some public health emergencies. But it also says there's more work to be done.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio


A new report finds Michigan is prepared for some public health emergencies.

But there's more work to be done.

The report called Ready or Not looked at ten key indicators, including whether the state maintained or increased funding for public health programs in the past year.

Michigan did not.

“The federal, state and local budget cuts to public health preparedness, documented in the report, are very alarming and they are putting all of our past success at risk,” says Paul Kuehnert with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Lansing-area health authorities say about 75 residents and employees at a retirement home have fallen ill in a suspected norovirus outbreak.

The illnesses are at the Burcham Hills Retirement Community in East Lansing.

Ingham County health officer Renee Branch Canady say authorities have been getting reports of gastrointestinal symptoms for about two weeks.

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan authorities say four people are dead in two separate incidents of what may have been accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Flint police say they found a man and woman dead early Christmas morning and say a child is hospitalized as a result of an apparent accident, and a gas utility truck has been called to the scene. says police aren't able to confirm that the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning but say no foul play was involved.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The holidays bring with them added stress and depression.

Lisa Laughman is an emotional wellness consultant at Michigan State University.

She says there are many reasons why people may feel stressed or depressed this time of year.   This could be the first Christmas without a loved one.    Financial challenges may be making a 'traditional' family Christmas difficult.   Some people say the recent school massacre in Connecticut is also making this feel less like Christmas. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Health officials say two children have died from the flu in Michigan as statewide influenza cases rise.

Angela Minicuci, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Community Health, says an infant from southwest Michigan and an adolescent from central Michigan were reported last week to the state. No further information was available.

As of Dec. 20, 149 confirmed cases of the flu were reported in Michigan, up from 63 the previous week.

mconnors / morguefile

The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, and parts of it have already taken effect. But more provisions will be implemented in 2013.

For example, more federal money is coming to Michigan to pay for an increase in rates from the Medicaid program to cover new preventive services. 

"That includes contraceptive services, which applies to employers with health plans that are not grandfathered, and there are certain organizations who have religious exemptions," says Marianne Udow-Phillips is director of the Center for Health Care Research and Transformation in Ann Arbor.