Health

New initiative aims to get milk to Flint families

Apr 1, 2016
Guy Montag / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Water donations have been pouring into Flint for months, because of the city's lead-contaminated tap water.

Now, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan wants to make sure Flint families also have plenty of milk.

A new initiative aims to get people to donate 1 million glasses of milk to help children who've been exposed to lead.

It's part of of larger effort to shift the focus in Flint from water to nutrition.

James Gathany/PHIL-CDC / public domain

Health officials are warning Michiganders traveling to certain countries on spring break to bring plenty of 20% DEET mosquito repellent.

The CDC says there are outbreaks of Zika virus in many countries in the Carribean, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands.

"People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika," says Jennifer Eisner of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  But she says Zika has been linked to a severe birth defect, microcephaly. 

The University of Michigan Health System
The University of Michigan

When a child gets sick, there are few scarier words in the English language for a parent than cancer.

Once that word comes out of a doctor’s mouth, there are lots questions to be asked, and even more decisions to be made. Few of them are easy.

One of those difficult questions is whether you want your child to be a part of a clinical trial.

Laura Sedig, a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow at the University of Michigan, joined Stateside to talk about clinical trials for childhood cancer and the options for parents faced with making this difficult decision.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State health officials have confirmed a tenth death connected to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County.

The latest case involves a patient from Shiawassee County. The patient wasn’t counted originally as part of the outbreak, because health officials didn’t know the patient had spent time in a Genesee County hospital

Dr. Eden Wells is the Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service.   She says state health officials found the latest fatality during a review of all Legionella cases in Michigan in 2014 and 2015.

Dr. Farha Abbasi, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University.
Derrick L. Turner / Michigan State University

The eighth annual Muslim Mental Health Conference is taking place in Dearborn this week with a wide range of topics on the schedule. Everything from Islamophobia and extremism to interfaith training for people who are working with American Muslim families will be discussed.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are getting some relief when it comes to their water bills. But what about their medical bills? It’s a question some Flint families are asking.

Medical bills are adding up for Keri Webber. I met her over the weekend, volunteering at an open house for Flint residents.

SpecialKRB / flickr

A new study suggests when it comes to childhood obesity, kids benefit from having a younger sibling.

And that link is surprisingly strong, according to an analysis of data from nearly 700 U.S. children.

Dr. Julie Lumeng, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital, was the study’s lead author.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Drug overdose deaths rose 14% between 2013 and 2014, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

MDHHS Public Information Officer Jennifer Eisner says a state task force is looking at ways to prevent the problem, as well as increase access to treatment.

"We are looking at ways to reduce doctor shopping and pharmacy shopping," says Eisner, "as well as how to expand access to access to Naloxone (a drug used to treat addicts), increasing access to care and increasing the number of addiction specialists that there are in the state."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government has approved Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid eligibility in Flint. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says pregnant women and people under 21 in Flint are now eligible for the expanded coverage.

The Snyder administration asked the federal government for the expanded Medicaid coverage, as part of its response to the Flint water crisis. There are concerns about the health effects of exposure to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water. 

The expansion will affect an estimated 15,000 Flint residents.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

People in Flint still should be drinking only filtered water or, in the case of pregnant women and children under six, bottled water. 

But officials say there are hopeful signs that phosphates are re-coating the Flint water system's damaged pipes, and may be lowering the amount of lead getting into the water.

U.S. EPA On-site Coordinator Mark Durno says phosphate levels in the city's water mains are rising.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is one of four cities that’s getting its health put under the microscope.

Flint, Michigan, Kansas City, Kansas, Providence, Rhode Island and Waco, Texas were named pilot cities in the Municipal Health Data for American Cities Initiative last week.  

Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water has been getting most of the attention lately. But Flint has other health problems, too.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you’ve never had norovirus, you’re a very lucky person. It’s highly contagious and can knock you down.

“Either diarrhea or vomiting. Some people also have both at the same time, which is obviously the most unpleasant of all the outcomes,” says Christiane Wobus, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School who studies norovirus.

Roughly 150 students got sick with the virus on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus last week.

If you’re a scientist, this outbreak is an opportunity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new program is underway to get fresh produce to people affected by Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, and iron can help mitigate the effects of lead exposure. But many Flint residents don’t have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Starting this week, the state and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan are sending more than 100 truckloads of healthy food to local food pantries that serve parts of Flint that have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new round of testing could show if the amount of lead in Flint’s drinking water is declining.

Virginia Tech researchers will send testing kits to people in Flint this week. The researchers spent Friday assembling 300 kits.  

Researcher Siddhartha Roy says they are testing the same homes they did back in August and September.  Those tests revealed unsafe levels of lead.

They also expect to see lower lead levels.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top state official says people in Flint are relying more and more on water filters. He says that is reducing demand for bottled water.

In response to Flint’s water crisis, six weeks ago the state started stocking distribution centers in Flint with bottled water, filters and lead testing kits.  

But demand at the centers is down significantly. For example, demand for bottled water is now less than a third of its peak. 

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there’s still work to be done to ensure clean drinking water in Flint.

In a letter to state and city officials today, the agency laid out “two significant issues that need immediate attention” as it relates to complying with an emergency order the EPA issued on Jan. 21.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Social justice groups are teaming up with local county health officials to call for change in the wake of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

In Flint today, they announced their intention to work together to call for “health equity."

“What is most important at this point is to repair the damage done to the residents of Flint and to assure that they are protected from further harm,” says Charles Wilson, the health promotion and disease prevention supervisor Washtenaw County Health Department.

But the group’s focus goes beyond Flint.

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

One of the most critical points in discovering the full extent of Flint’s water crisis was a study of blood-lead levels in Flint children.

That study, by pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, found that after the city switched to the Flint River for its drinking water, lead levels in the blood of Flint’s kids doubled. Since then, Hanna-Attisha has become internationally famous, using the attention to fight for the lead-poisoned children of Flint.

But it’s possible she wouldn't have thought to check those blood-lead levels without the help of an old friend from the ninth grade.

State of Michigan

Michigan’s top doctor says the state’s investigation into Flint’s deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak followed “standard public health practice.”

The state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eden Wells, says that investigation “was very consistent … with any outbreak investigation that’s been conducted.”

Wells’ comments come at a time when publicly released emails from state officials, including some with the Department of Health and Human Services, raise serious questions about state agencies’ response to an unfolding public health crisis.

Among those questions:

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.

Pages