Health

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.

click / MorgueFile

An organization of physicians says more isn't always better when it comes to medical tests.

A national campaign called "Choosing Wisely" looked at a list of common procedures that doctors and patients should question.

Dr. Jim Froehlich is director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Michigan.

He says a stress test before a simple surgery is one example of an overused procedure.

"That's not always useful, especially if the planned procedure is of such low risk that if even if someone has some heart disease, it's unlikely to adversely affect them," Froehlich says.

Icare4autism.com

A new Michigan State University study finds a link between autism and a brain abnormality in low birth weight babies.

Tammy Movsas is an assistant professor of pediatrics at MSU and medical director of the Midland County Department of Public Health.

She’s been studying ultrasounds of low birth weight babies. She discovered babies were seven times more likely to develop autism if they had enlarged cavities in the brain that store spinal fluid.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Whole Foods announced today the store will open on June 5th in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood and will employ 75 people.

The store will be on the corner of John R and Mack, right off of Woodward Avenue.

The Associated Press reports details about job openings will be posted online April 2nd.

In the meantime, Whole Foods is holding informational meetings about jobs on March 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Parts of Detroit have been described as "food deserts," where access to healthy food can be a major problem. Whole Foods hopes to fill that void in Midtown.

The Austin, TX based chain received millions in tax breaks to build the store.

Some have questioned whether this is fair to other grocery stores operating in Detroit.

When it was announced that a Whole Foods would open in Detroit in 2011, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra spoke with the competition:

Kim Smith lives in Detroit. Last year she opened Kim’s Produce, just a couple blocks over from where her competition will soon set up shop. As a resident of Detroit, she’s excited about Whole Foods coming to town:

"I mean that’s the question on everybody’s mind: When they move to Detroit, where am I gonna shop? So I think it is a really good thing for Detroit."

As for what Whole Foods will mean for her business?

"I don’t know. I really don’t know if we can really compete."

Nicole Haley / Nicole Haley Photography

Detroit has plenty of smart, talented kids who could have a bright future in medicine. But the few who do go into the field often don’t stay in the city after they graduate.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, fewer than eight percent of Michigan’s doctors are black or Hispanic.

The University of Michigan School of Medicine hopes to spark a change with its “Doctors of Tomorrow” program. 

A group of ninth-graders from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School is gathered around a gurney at U of M’s Clinical Simulation Center.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan under the Affordable Care Act has cleared the state House.

The state would form a partnership with the federal government to create an online marketplace people could use to buy health insurance.

The bill passed easily with bi-partisan support. But many Republicans are not on board.

Representative Bob Genetski says he does not trust the federal government to respect Michigan’s interests.

Researchers explore a connection between social media and depression

Feb 28, 2013
Facebook.com / Facebook

Social media is rapidly becoming more than just a tool to stay connected with friends and old flames.

A University of Michigan conference this week about Depression on College Campuses highlighted new data which suggests that sites like Facebook are becoming outlets for people to communicate signs of depression.

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

The Michigan House passed SB 61 and SB 62 today on a 92-18 vote. The bills go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then they'll head to Gov. Snyder's desk for his signature.

The bills are aimed at overhauling how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan operates in the state.

Similar bills were attempted in the last session of the legislature, but they contained controversial abortion language. The language required an optional rider for abortion coverage.

Gov. Snyder vetoed those bills.

These new bills don't have the abortion language.

More on the changes from MLive's Melissa Anders:

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.

It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.

“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”

Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.

The bill now goes to the floor of the state House.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan health officials have reported three more infections and one more death linked to contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says at least 249 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.

The department reports that at least 16 people have died in the outbreak.

mconnors / MorgueFile

A study from Michigan State University says it's not just people with families who have a hard time balancing work and life.

Single people have the same issues, but they may not get the same workplace flexibility as those with kids.

Ann Marie Ryan is a Professor of Organizational Psychology. She says employers need to make sure all workers get a break once in a while.

user Explore the Bruce / Flickr

Frida Waara is an instructor in the upcoming Becoming an Outdoors Woman event this weekend in the Upper Peninsula's Big Bay, sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources.

The event will help women - even the most devoted Netflixers - develop skills that encourage and maintain an active lifestyle during a Michigan winter.

So, how does Waara get women to be active outdoors when the weather drops below zero?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Waara about the program and the importance for women to be active year round.

Official portrait

Governor Rick Snyder has called for a review of how Michigan provides mental health services.

The governor has signed two executive orders to come up with recommendations.The executive orders create two separate commissions.

Both of them will be led by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.

One major goal is to identify gaps that send people to jails and prisons instead of to programs that could treat their illnesses.

The plans also include teaching police, teachers, and clergy to spot signs of mental illness, earlier intervention for children with mental health issues, and helping more people get into treatment instead of being sent to jail or prison.

Administration officials say this will be the first thorough review of mental health services in Michigan since the state shut down its psychiatric hospitals in favor of community-based programs in the early 1990’s

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