Health

Health
12:19 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

A new plan for minority and low-income children with asthma

The Obama administration has announced a plan to help minority and low-income children with asthma.  The program stresses local coordination across health care, education, housing, and schools.

About 1 out of every 10 Michigan children suffer from asthma. Minority and low-income kids experience higher rates of hospitalization, missed school days, and death from asthma.

Michigan has made progress over the past decade.  Hospitalization rates for children with asthma have decreased by 28-percent.

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Health
10:09 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Macomb Co. not waiting for state to outlaw synthetic marijuana

N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs

Officials in Macomb County say they're not waiting for the state to outlaw synthetic marijuana. And they're essentially deputizing the public to get stores to stop selling it.

Synthetic marijuana has been implicated as a factor in some recent violent crimes.   Public officials elsewhere in Michigan have asked gas stations and convenience stores to take the drug off their shelves. But Macomb County is getting more aggressive.

A new public health order bans the sale of the products - often called K2 or spice. County Executive Mark Hackel is asking people to download copies of the order from the county's website, and take them to stores selling the products. And he thinks they will.

"I mean, people have been absolutely, incredibly engaged in this because it affects their children, and they're seeing what's happening in their neighborhoods, and even in the schools," said Hackel.

Hackel is asking people to report stores that don't comply, and says law enforcement will then be dispatched to those places.

The violation carries a $200 fine and up to six months in jail.

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Health
1:15 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

MDCH unveils a new plan to combat obesity in the state

ObesityinAmerica.org The Endocrine Society and The Hormone Health Network

The Michigan Department of Community Health has a new plan to reduce the number of obese people in Michigan.  The Department announced a new 5-year statewide  program called "4 x 4" on Monday at the Recreation Park in Ypsilanti.  

The program wants to encourage Michigan residents to eat a healthy diet, exercise, get check-ups, and avoid tobacco.  The program will involve local governments, businesses and trade associations across the state. 

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Health
8:55 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Medicaid policymakers are committed to preserving health care safety net

State Medicaid policymakers should not try to block patient access to emergency rooms in the name of cost savings.  That's according to Doctor Brad Uren. He's president-elect of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians.

He's responding to a recent controversial rule in Washington State that would deny payment to emergency rooms for certain Medicaid patients.  Some of these patients may have alarming symptoms but are later diagnosed with non-urgent conditions.  After political push-back, the state held off on these so called "retrospective denials."

Doctor Uren thinks Medicaid policymakers in the state are committed to protecting the health care safety net.  He thinks it's unlikely these denials will occur in Michigan.

"Fortunately in the State of Michigan, we've enjoyed a good working relationship with the Michigan Department of Community Health and Medicaid, and I believe that everyone at the administration level is really working to protect the safety net.  They understand the facts, and that is that emergency care is not often administered to people that don't require emergency care."

National data suggest that 8-percent of emergency room patients don't have urgent conditions.  It's thought that some of these patients may report not having regular access to primary doctors.

- Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Health
1:31 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Cooling can help full-term infants with low flow of oxygen and blood to the brain

A new study suggests a medical therapy known as "cooling" can help full-term infants born with low flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.  This condition is thought to occur in about 1 out of every one-thousand babies born in the United States.  Cooling is thought to be one way to protect the brain. 

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Health
8:47 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Healthcare providers can better meet the needs of American Muslim patients

Hamed Saber Flickr

A new study sheds some light on how health care providers can better meet the cultural needs of American Muslim patients.

Michigan is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.  Some Muslim patients report that they experience discrimination in health care settings.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan interviewed groups of Muslim men and women from different backgrounds attending mosques in Metro Detroit.  

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Health
12:31 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

State funds may increase for inspections of migrant worker housing

Laura Elizabeth Pohl Flickr

Governor Snyder wants to allocate $400,000 in next year's budget to hire three more inspectors to investigate living conditions of migrant farm workers. 

Alberto Flores is with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. He says that leaves only 8 inspectors to look at housing for the more than 90-thousand migrant workers that come to Michigan every year.

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Health
11:32 am
Mon May 28, 2012

Young children should be supervised around water

Jesus Solana Flickr

Drowning is the leading cause of injury related death among children less than 4 years of age.  That's according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control.

Angela Minicuci is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.  She says young children should be supervised around all sources of water both inside and outside of the house:

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Health
2:05 pm
Sun May 27, 2012

Michigan OKs medical marijuana for 44 children

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan has issued medical marijuana cards covering 44 children. Most are teenagers, but three of them are under 10 years old.

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Health
11:49 am
Fri May 25, 2012

State urges Bridge Card recipients to buy garden plants to stretch food budget

gordonwd MorgueFile

Living on a small income doesn't mean people can't eat well. Sometimes it just means getting your hands a bit dirty. 

The state of Michigan is encouraging Bridge Card holders to use their benefits to buy fresh produce at stores and farmers markets. It also suggests recipients buy fruit, vegetable and herb plants  to grow themselves.

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Health
12:03 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Rep. Dingell supports bill to speed up FDA reviews

Tom Varco Wikimedia commons

Congress is trying to speed up the review process for new medicines and devices while still keeping them safe.   A bill before the House would increase the amount of money and authority given to the Food and Drug Administration to do that.

Congressman John Dingell represents Michigan's 15th District and supports the bill.  He says one way the new bill will protect the drug supply is by increasing the FDA's authority over imported medicine.

"[The User Fee bill] enables [the] Food and Drug [Administration] to address the problems that we had (i.e. unsafe pharmaceuticals and unsafe commodities and components for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals in this country," Dingell said.  "So Food and Drug can control them now."

Drug and medical device manufacturers typically pay user fees that fund the reviews by the Food and Drug Administration.  The new bill will expand those fees to more companies, including international ones. 

"This is the best way of leveling the playing field between American manufacturers and foreign manufacturers" said Dingell, "and also seeing to it that everybody -- consumers, manufacturers and all get the services that they're entitled to from [the] Food and Drug [Administration]."

Patient safety advocates are against parts of the bill. They say even tougher reviews should be applied to medical devices.

-Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Health
9:00 am
Sat May 19, 2012

Van Andel Institute develops a new diagnostic test for cancer

MSU Physical Plant flickr

The Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids has developed a new diagnostic test for cancer, based on the discovery of a gene that contributes to the illness.

George Vande Woude is the founding research director at the Van Andel Institute. He discovered what is called the MET gene in the 1980's. He says the MET gene is frequently activated in many cancers.

"What is important in this discovery is the diagnostic tests can be performed to determine whether patients' tumor is positive for the gene or not," he says.

The diagnostic test may be able to diagnose as many as 30 forms of cancer.

Health
3:40 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

State legislators still resist health care exchange

The Obama administration has given new leeway to states to choose their level of involvement in running health care exchanges. States are required to create the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

The exchanges will allow individuals and small businesses to shop for health care plans.

Ari Adler is the press secretary for Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger.

He says Bolger doesn't plan to move forward on the exchanges until the Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Care Act.

"If we are put in a position where we have to have some sort of health exchange, " says Adler, " [Bolger] is willing to work with the governor and others to put something in place at the state level -- so we do not have the federal government coming in and controlling our health care in Michigan."

Governor Snyder says he wants the Legislature to send him a bill that would create an exchange. He's said waiting too long could leave Michigan vulnerable to missing the federal deadline for creating the exchanges.

He's directed some staff to do preliminary work on setting up an exchange. That work includes creating a database of possible health care plans, and reviewing software programs that other states are developing.

Earlier this year, Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Helen Levy, a Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research who worked with President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2011.

White talked with Levy about how health insurance exchanges work and  what health care options they may provide to individuals.

Take a listen to their conversation below or read a transcript here.

 

Health
9:38 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

System allows doctors to send immunization records electronically to the state

Doctors are already required to send immunization records to the State of Michigan. With the new system, the data will arrive in real time with no extra steps for the doctors or hospitals.

The system was launched by a non-profit called Michigan Health Connect. Executive Director Doug Dietzman says eventually the data could travel both ways – so doctors could avoid giving patients shots they don’t need. He outline tetanus as a common example. 

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Health
12:48 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Goal: Cure Alzheimer's disease by 2050

Ann Gordon Flickr

The National Institutes of Health has set a goal to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease by 2050.

Henry Paulson is the director of the University of Michigan's Alzheimer's Disease Center.

"I'm a 100-percent supporter of this," he says. "This is a huge medical problem. We have over 5-million people who have Alzheimer's now in this country and as we get older, the number is increasing rapidly. So this is a crisis and although we understand a lot about the mechanisms of the disease, we still don't have effective therapies. So this push, this additional support I think will drive toward those therapies that we so desperately need."

16-million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia by 2050.

The Obama Administration has allocated $50-million for Alzheimer's Research. N-I-H will spend an additional 30 million on two national studies.

"One of the things I like about the announcement yesterday is there are two major studies that they emphasize that are going to be funded right away," Paulson says. "One is a symptomatic study, that is the intranasal insulin, is looking to see if that can improve symptoms in people who have cognitive impairment. The other study is a preventative study from families who actually have inherited caused dimentia which is not what most people have."

Paulson says many investigators with the U of M's Alzheimer's Disease Center will be applying for additional funding for Alzheimer's research.

- Emily Fox, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Health/economy
6:21 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Allegiance soon to be Jackson's first teaching hospital

The city of Jackson is getting its first teaching hospital.

Allegiance Hospital will soon start accepting medical students and residents to train them for their future practices.

Dr.  John Lake is Allegiance's Program Director for Family Medicine.

He says the hospital's start up costs could run into the millions of dollars - but it will be worth it, because being a teaching hospital keeps instructing physicians "on their game," and having residents improves patient care.

"There will be time to spend with patients to explain a lot of things to them," says Lake, "And I think (in) more of a depth than we would normally have time for because (the residents) will be there 24/7."

Lake thinks having a teaching hospital will also be good for Jackson, providing a spark to the local economy.

He says about 20% of doctors end up practicing where they do their residency.

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Health
4:01 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

MSU study finds 16 year olds at peak risk for abusing prescription drugs

What's in you medicine cabinet? And does your 16 year old know too?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new Michigan State University study finds the peak of teen misuse of prescription drugs comes earlier than previously believed.

MSU researchers say teen misuse of prescription drugs peaks at age 16, not the later teens as previously believed.   Many children start using pain killers and other prescription drugs to get high in their tweens.   

The MSU study shows about 1 in 60 young people between 12 and 21 years old starts abusing prescription pain relievers each year.    That ratio rises to roughly 1 in 30 at age 16.  

Jim Anthony is a professor of Epidemiology at MSU.    He says the study shows it’s important to get the public health message against misusing prescription drugs to children when they are in middle school.

“We don’t want to delay public health programs…until the high school years or college years," says Anthony,   "We want to begin to think about them as early as 12 and 13.”

Anthony says it may also be a good idea for doctors to write some pain killer prescriptions for just a few day supply instead of the more common one or two week supply.   He says that might reduce the number of prescription drugs that sit unused in the family medicine cabinet.  

Anthony says parents need to pay close attention to their teenager and their medicine cabinet and properly dispose of unneeded painkillers and other prescription drugs.

The MSU study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

 

Health
5:55 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

A new HBO series addresses the nation's obesity problem

Sylvar / flickr

Michigan ranks tenth in the country, when it comes to the number of people who are overweight or obese. It's an issue that affects many of us personally, and it affects society as a whole.

A new HBO, documentary series called  The Weight of the Nation takes an in-depth look at this epidemic. It's in partnership with the Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

John Hoffman is an HBO producer who worked on the documentary. The documentary recently screened in Detroit. He says, "We’ve got to engage the entire nation in addressing obesity. Almost 70% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese, and the costs are just going to bankrupt our health care system. Our national security is threatened when one quarter of recruits can’t qualify for our military service because they are overweight or obese…so, we are trying to sound the loudest possibly alarm in every community that this has got to become a priority."

Obesity seems to hit minorities and poor people especially hard. Hoffman says it's a matter of economics and not race. 

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Health
1:33 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Lawmakers target production, sales of synthetic marijuana

Varieties of synthetic marijuana
N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs

Michigan lawmakers are making another attempt to outlaw sales of over-the-counter synthetic marijuana.

The drug is sometimes labeled as incense or potpourri  and is sold under a variety of names at convenience stores and other small shops.

The distributors often change the chemical contents or packaging to skirt current laws.

A sweeping Senate bill targets the artificial pot  and a host of other possible additives, including opiates and amphetamines.

Dr. Norb Kaminski is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University.

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Commentary
10:54 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Commentary: Grass-roots health care

Nobody would dispute that health care is one of the biggest issues facing this nation. And virtually everyone, regardless of their politics, is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Next month, the nation’s highest court will announce its decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Congress passed two years ago.

Their decision will have a major impact on this nation. But in Ferndale, a small, charming, quirky, and largely working class Detroit suburb, a tiny group hasn’t been waiting.

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