Health

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s pharmacists are encouraging people to clean out their medicine cabinets.    

Paul Jensen is the president of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. He says  old, out of date, unused prescription drugs are increasingly being abused by teenagers.  

“The majority of people who abuse a medication…a prescription medication…it comes from somebody they know.   Quite often out of the medicine cabinet in their own home."

Michigan pharmacies collected more than a thousand pounds of prescription drugs in the first year of their ‘drug disposal’ program. Jensen is hopeful that amount will increase this year.

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Registered nurses who work at the University of Michigan Health System and their supports say they will march to the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting today at 2:30 p.m. They will start at the Michigan Union and "proceed to the Fleming Adminisration Building" (distance - about a block).

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) says the University of Michigan nurses have been working without a contract since July 1.

From an MNA press release:

Despite another profitable year and an increase in patients, UMHS have thwarted reasonable contract negotiations with the system’s 4,000 registered nurses by proposing cuts that would make it even more difficult for them to maintain patient care and safety.

The University has issued a statement in the past saying they "prefer not bargain in the media" and  "respectfully disagree" that proposed labor changes would have a negative effect on patient care.

Issues being debated include pay increases, health insurance, and benefits.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder wants people in Michigan to do more to promote their own health. He also outlined policies he’d like to see legislators pass to help lower health care costs and improve access.

Snyder says he wants Michigan to create a health care exchange: a place where individuals can compare health care insurance.

The new federal health care law mandates states create their own exchange, join a regional one or wait until the federal exchange is in place.

“Having the idea of having an exchange done right is a good idea and my view is Michigan should establish one. We shouldn’t wait and say the federal government is going tell us it’s their exchange.”

Snyder wants to reform the state’s health code, improve health care for veterans and children with autism. He also wants to reduce regulations on health care professionals.

Sono Tamaki / Creative Commons

A program that’s showing signs of progress in reducing low birth weight and infant deaths among African-Americans is getting a major vote of confidence. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded a $4.5 million grant to a program in Grand Rapids called Strong Beginnings.

The program has reduced the number of black infant deaths in Grand Rapids by more than 20 percent in five years. 

Peggy Vander Meulen is executive director of Strong Beginnings.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

More hospitals in Michigan are requiring all their employees to get flu shots this year.

Last year, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital made flu shots for all employees mandatory for the first time.

Lakshmi Halasyamani is the Chief Medical Officer for the hospital.

She says some employees were upset about the requirement – but most of them came around after hearing the reasons for the new policy.

CDC / CDC

It's  the week to go before school doors open across Michigan.  And along with school supplies, children need their required vaccinations. 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control finds that many teens and pre-teens have not received their required or recommended vaccinations.   Melinda Wharton is the deputy director of the National Center for Immunization at the CDC.   She admits it can be difficult for parents to keep track of what vaccinations their teenage children have and have not received. 

(courtesy of Flint Medical Dispensary)

Local county prosecutors are meeting this weekend on Mackinac Island.  This week’s appeals court ruling that medical marihuana dispensaries are illegal is a hot topic of conversation.

Michigan has its first probable human case of West Nile Virus this summer.  An unnamed Macomb County man died recently, after showing symptoms consistent with the mosquito-borne disease. Lab tests are underway to confirm this was a case of West Nile Virus.  

Sue Tremonti is with the Macomb County Health Department.  She says West Nile Virus infections are more prevalent than most people think. 

(Courtesy of the Michigan Attorney General's office)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he'll inform the state's 83 county prosecutors about a court decision that bans the commercial sale of medical marijuana.  Schuette says the appeals court ruling empowers local authorities to shut down marijuana dispensaries.

The businesses typically allow people with medical marijuana cards to sell pot to others who also have cards.  The appeals court said Wednesday that such shops are illegal. 

user elioja / Flickr

Updated at 9:57 p.m.

We have this update from Rick Pluta -

The decision leaves the discretion to close a dispensary with local prosecutors.

Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick, who brought the case to the Court of Appeals, says local police in his bailiwick will start tonight delivering copies of the decision and warning letters to the "four or five  dispensaries in his bailiwick."

He says the letters warn the dispensaries they are out of compliance with the law if they accept payments for medical marijuana and, if so, they need to change their operations or shut down.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III says he's facing a more complicated situation. The city of Lansing has become a center for dispensaries. It has upwards of 40 -- some of them operate 24/7.

Dunnings says he warned city officials the dispensaries are illegal, but the city passed an ordinance allowing them. Dunnings says he intends to step carefully since the dispensary operators thought they were playing by the rules. Nevertheless, The Lansing City Pulse reports most of the  11 dispensaries on the Michigan Avenue strip directly east of the state Capitol responded to the ruling by closing their doors.   

 

Update 2:37 p.m.

Here's a video of the oral arguments made in front of the Michigan Court of Appeals on June 7, 2011.

The Court of Appeals ruled today that the marijuana dispensary in question operated in violation of the law.

People v Compassionate Apothecary from Eric L. VanDussen on Vimeo.

And here is Steve Carmody's raw interview with Michael Komorn, the president of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Association.

Komoron told Carmody that despite the ruling, dispensaries around the state will continue to operate under local implementation and interpretation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act - at least until the Michigan Supreme Court rules on the case.

Update 12:48 p.m.

Sarah Alvarez, Changing Gears Public Insight Analyst and lawyer, read the ruling that was released by the Michigan Court of Appeals this morning. A three-judge panel wrote the opinion (Joel Hoekstra, Christopher Murray, and Cynthia Stephens).

The case involves Isabella County prosecutors office and the two owners of the Compassionate Apothocary, a dispensary in Isabella County operating  with 345 members. Alvarez says the appeals court finds that no provision of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act would permit for patient to patient sale of marijuana.

The dispensary is therefore found to be a public nuisance and must cease operations. (important to note this is not a criminal prosecution).

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

An alliance of medical and educational associations is working to get more children signed up for free or low-cost health insurance programs.

People all across Michigan say they felt today’s earthquake in Virginia .  Perhaps the most common question today in Michigan was   "Did you feel that?" 

Within minutes of the 5 .9 tremor in Virginia, social media started buzzing.   Michigan Radio’s listeners chimed in quickly.   

Courtesy of Children First

A new poll from the University of Michigan shows parents have a growing concern about childhood obesity and illegal drug use.    The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has been asking parents for five years what’s their greatest health concern when it comes to their children.   

Obesity has topped the list since it started.  But this year illegal drug use tied for the top spot.

Clarita / MorgueFile

University of Michigan Health System nurses rallied in Ann Arbor  Saturday to protest concessions they’re being asked to give.

The 4,000 members of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council have been working under the terms of an expired 2008 contract since July.

Katie Oppenheim is chair of the union. She says the health system is profitable and shouldn’t be asking the nurses to pay more for health insurance, or to work longer before they can retire.

One of the brightest meteor showers of the year happens overnight. It’s called the the Perseid meteor shower and although it happens for several days, it will peak around 3 a.m. Saturday.

The meteor showers happen as the Earth makes its annual trip around the sun and encounters a particular trail of comet dust.

Sally Oey is an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan. She says as the Earth travels through this comet dust, little particles enter our Earth’s atmosphere and appear as meteors or “shooting stars.”

User: whitakerc1985 / flickr

Comcast has announced a new national program that provides discounted Internet service for low-income families. Families who live in a Comcast service area and have not been customers with the company for at least 90 days can get the service for $10 per month.

Mary Beth Halprin is with Comcast Michigan.    

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan is expanding its involvement in Medicaid coverage.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan joined a Pennsylvania Blue Cross to buy up a Medicaid health care plan based in Philadelphia.  Amerihealth Mercy ser

(Flickr Coastlander)

The search for signs of West Nile Virus is once again taking place in Michigan.  Symptoms of the mosquito-borne illness include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches.    August and September is the prime time for the virus.  

West Nile Virus first appeared in Michigan in 2002 and the number of human cases peaked a few years later.  Kim Signs is an epidemiologist with the state Department of Community Health.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new University of Michigan study finds a connection between spirituality and recovery for cardiac patients. U of M researchers took cardiac patients for a four day non-denominational spiritual retreat. 

During the retreat, the patients were encouraged to engage in meditation, guided imagery, drumming, journal writing and outdoor activities.  

Amelia Carpenter / Michigan Radio Newsroom

University of Michigan nurses say the quality of patient care will suffer if they can’t reach an agreement in contract talks with management. Some nurses say they will leave their jobs. The two sides are debating financial issues including pay increases, health insurance and benefits in contract talks that resume today (Wednesday). The union representatives have added to an existing complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission charging management with bad faith bargaining and making one-sided changes to some nurses’ working conditions. The union says the university made an assignment change without consulting them first.

Jeff Breslin is President of the Michigan Nurses Association. He says one of the key issues in hospitals is retaining staff.

"You get the expertise – you have nurses that can walk into a situation , assess it and know what needs to be done at the drop of a hat where new nurses – they will get to that point but they need the skill, they need the experience and they need the expertise from the people who have been there to pass that on to them," Breslin said.

The university health system said in a release they do not agree patient care will be affected with the new contract.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

John Chevier / Flickr

This morning we posted Mark Brush's story about giving blood, including why some people are disallowed from giving.

The story started with a post to Facebook about giving blood, and the comments you posted about the rules for giving.

Now that the final story has been posted, people are still reacting.

Anita Weber says, "Here's one way they can start...by using different sized needles! I've been turned away three times because they only use one size of needle. I avidly exercise so I'm not buying them telling me to lift weights more! My veins are the size they are! Their loss! I wanted and still want to donate!"

Carrie Paps responds, saying, "I give all the time, 2 gallons so far, but I understand the issues. Sometimes my iron is too low and sometimes they can't find a vein."

Craig Hennigan still objects to rules for giving blood. He says, "The lifetime ban for gay men is still stupid, homophobic, and wrong."

redcrossofnci.org

  The American Red Cross says they're facing a critical shortage to the nation's blood supply. And blood donations often drop in the summer when people are busy or traveling.

So they want you to give.

When we posted information about the appeal on our Facebook page, it sparked a debate about blood donor screening.

Not everyone can give blood. Only about 37%  of us can. Donors are pre-screened for potential exposure to diseases to keep the blood supply safe.

But many people feel some healthy donors are needlessly kept from donating blood.

imelenchon / MorgueFile

State health officials say three cases of tetanus have been reported in Michigan recently. The disease is serious, but it’s also preventable. 

Tetanus – also known as lockjaw --  is caused by a bacteria found in the soil and can also be spread through feces and saliva.

Pat Vranesich is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

She says most years there are no cases reported. But in 2010 two cases were found, and there has been another increase this year.

An anti-malaria drug may provide better treatment to those with autoimmune diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis, according to a study by the Van Andel Institute.

The anti-malaria drug, chloroquine can be used to replace anti-inflammatory medications like steroids.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Embryonic stem cell research at the University of Michigan is an indirect winner in a federal court decision.   A U.S. District judge today tossed out a lawsuit challenging federal funding for the controversial medical research.

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UM Flint received around $2.1 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for nursing programs geared toward minority groups.

The university highlighted three programs that will receive funding.

  1. $1.2 million will go to a program call UM-FIND (UM-Flint Initiatives for Nursing Diversity) to continue its work aimed at "increase nursing education opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds." The grant provides funding to the program for the next three years.
  2. $700,000 will go to UM-FISCUP (UM-Flint Initiative to Strengthen Care to Underserved Populations). The program educates graduate nursing students about poverty and health care disparities among medically underserved populations. "It will allow an increase in student clinical placements with underserved populations and in the number of minority nurse practitioners, and that will lead to improvements in the by and large health of Flint and Genesee County residents."
     
  3. $221,000 will be used for scholarships for disadvantaged student scholarships and $32,000  will be used for graduate student stipends for Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Anesthesia students.
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Lansing City Council put a limit of 48 medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in the city.

Carol Wood is a Lansing City Council member. She says she would like to see fewer dispensary licenses available in Lansing.

“When you look at the fact that we have 27 pharmacies that have a variety of different drugs that they’re able to access out of there and that we are looking at 48 licensed establishments for only one drug, it doesn’t seem that there’s been necessity for us to have that many to take care of the residents of the city of Lansing.”

U.S. Army / Flickr

We spoke with Bridget Tuohey of the Red Cross of Southeast Michigan about today's urgent nationwide appeal for blood donations, after tornados and other disasters impacted the agency's ability to collect blood this summer.

Tuohey says Michigan has been critically short of blood for three weeks now. 

Normally, the state can turn to other areas of the country to get blood when there's not enough donation here.  That's not the case now, says Tuohey, and the Red Cross can no longer completely fill standing orders for blood from state hospitals.  Some hospitals are postponing elective surgeries as a result.

The Red Cross needs all blood types, but especially A-negative, B-negative and O-negative.   O-negative is called the universal blood type because it can be given to anyone in an emergency.

People who can donate can walk in to a clinic.  But Tuohey says it's best to make an appointment ahead of time by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767.)

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Death from prescription drug overdose is on the rise in Michigan.

More Michiganders are dying from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine combined. In 2009, almost 460 Michiganders died of overdoses from one or more prescription drugs, up from nearly 410 deaths the year before. Data from 2010 is still being collected.

Larry Scott is with the Michigan Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services. He says there is one way to prevent the rise of prescription drug abuse.

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The Detroit Free Press profiled Jerry Linenger today, a former mission specialist for the shuttle Discovery, who talked about his mixed emotions regarding today's final shuttle launch.

From the article:

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