By Samantha Celera

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Flu hospitalizations in Michigan are way up this season because of the spread of the more serious H1N1 strain of the disease.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says the good news is this year's flu vaccine targets the H1N1 strain, making it highly effective in preventing the disease.

The department says labs confirm 169 Michigan cases this season, compared with 338 a year earlier.

But department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci says there are 190 reported hospitalizations so far this season, up from 115 a year earlier. New numbers come out Friday.

The state doesn't track adult flu deaths. There's been one juvenile death this season.

Minicuci says officials hope people take the virulence of this season's outbreak as a warning to get vaccinated.

By Samantha Celera

About a dozen flu patients have been in intensive care at  University of Michigan hospitals on any given day since the new year began. Some are on advanced life support. Most are middle-aged.  And most have the H1N1 strain of flu.

Michigan has seen a flood of H1N1 flu cases in the last few weeks.

That's according to Dr. Matthew Davis,  Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.


The United States needs to do a better job of fighting the spread of infectious disease. And so does the state of Michigan.

That's according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report looked at whether states met ten key indicators showing their capacity to prevent and control infectious disease. Michigan met only five out of ten.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 2013

Overall, 44% of parents say they'd allow their child to take part in medical research if the child had the disease being studied.

Yet only 5% say their child has participated in a medical study.  

That's according to a recent National Poll on Children's Health conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Morgue File

The number of Michigan deaths from drug overdose has tripled since 1999. The majority of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs.

Michigan has the 18th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, according to a national report on Prescription Drug Abuse by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in Washington, D.C. 

Flickr user Erik Eti Smit

Children whose families qualify for Medicaid are now eligible to receive free dental care in Washtenaw, Ingham and Ottawa counties through the Healthy Kids Dental program. Beginning today, 64,000 kids are added to the program which provides dental coverage to about half a million children in Michigan.

The Michigan budget was expanded to include this coverage. Angela Minicuci with the Michigan Department of Community Health says the program will hopefully expand to the five remaining counties that aren't yet covered under the program -- Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Kalamazoo.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State health officials are celebrating the 50th anniversary of a screening program that has saved the lives of more than seven thousand newborns.

Starting with just one test in 1963, Michigan doctors now routinely test newborn infants for more than 50 potentially life threatening conditions.

Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.    He says infant screening is one of the best success stories in public health.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Federal judge will hear challenge to gay marriage ban

A federal judge is allowing a legal challenge to Michigan adoption laws and its ban on same-sex marriage to move forward. Judge Bernard Friedman says the decision to strike down DOMA last week left unanswered questions that could be addressed by this case. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are raising three children together; they say Michigan law violates the equal protection rights of their children. The judge called a July 10th hearing to chart the next steps in the case.

Legislation to improve legal defense for indigent Michiganders

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation yesterday that will make changes to the state’s public defense system. The bill will create a commission to set statewide standards to ensure effective legal representation for poor defendants. The commission will also monitor counties to make sure each one is meeting those standards.

Flint EM warns possibility of bankruptcy

Flint's Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, warns the city could run out of money if it's forced to pay retirees full health benefits. A federal judge recently ruled Flint has to give retired workers the benefits they were promised. Kurtz says the decision hurts retirees more than it helps and that bankruptcy would mean much bigger cuts for retirees and current workers.

Eight people have overdosed from heroin over the past two days in Washtenaw County, according to the health department and the sheriff's office. One person died in Saline, and seven others were hospitalized.

Sergeant Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office says heroin use in Michigan is increasing.


A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

Senator Levin speaks with military member
Carl Levin

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

There are 670,000 veterans in Michigan — the 11th highest population of veterans in the US.

However, Michigan comes in last place (after Guam) when it comes to the amount of federal money spent per veteran. The benefits and assistance exist, but why aren't they being used?

Jason Allen is the senior deputy director for veteran affairs for Michigan's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. He pointed to three reasons that can be attributed to Michigan's low ranking.

user mperloe / YouTube

A Michigan mother whose twins were conceived using  in-vitro technology after their father died is asking the state Supreme Court to allow the children to get death benefits and inheritance rights.

Pam and Jeff Mattison had a daughter using in-vitro fertilization, and wanted more children.

But Jeff Mattison was ill, and died just before the procedure was performed again.

Pam Mattison had a twin boy and girl nine months after her husband died. She applied for Social Security benefits for the twins, but was denied.

The Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan. The plant was decommissioned in 1997.

A new federal study will look at cancer risk around nuclear facilities.

The National Academy of Sciences study will look at cancer types in infants and the general population near six nuclear power plants and one nuclear-fuel plant for the Navy.

The sites being studied are in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Researchers will look at the area around the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Map of Healthcare Facilities which received three lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) recalled from New England Compounding Center.

News about the meningitis outbreak continues this morning. The outbreak has been linked to patients receiving steroid injections for back pain. The steroid shots could be contaminated with a meningitis-causing fungus.

From the CDC:

At this point, there is not enough evidence to determine the original source of the outbreak, however there is a link to an injectable steroid medication.

The company responsible for the medication, New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., announced a recall on Oct. 6 "of all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts."

Ed White of the Associated Press reports on the heartbreaking case of 67-year-old Lilian Cary of Howell, Michigan.

Late last month, Cary had been responding to treatment at the University of Michigan hospital:

"She was responding to medication. Her spirits were up. Her fever was broken," George Cary said. "She was walking the hallway and Skyping with grandsons."

But she became unresponsive Sept. 26, and eventually was removed from life support after suffering a stroke, he said.

Cary said he was informed Saturday that his wife had been treated with tainted steroids for back pain. The doctor at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, one of four Michigan clinics to get shipments from the Massachusetts pharmacy, said Cary also was at risk.

George Cary is now waiting to hear whether he was exposed when he received an injectable steroid shot.

The CDC reports that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in the outbreak, but who is in danger is unclear.

From the Associated Press:

About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid sent to 23 states have been recalled. Inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus, and tests were being done on other vials.

The first known case of the rarely seen fungal meningitis was diagnosed last month in Tennessee.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a bacteria or virus. Exposure from fungi is a less common way to contract meningitis.

Every woman sees those skinny, photo-shopped models in magazines, and it probably makes us all little crazy.  But some women internalize that pressure more than others - and your genes could be the reason. 

A growing number of studies are linking eating disorders to genetics, but a new study from Michigan State University is the first to find that an early indicator of eating disorders - namely, how much of the "thin-ideal" a woman buys into - could also have a genetic component.  

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Governor Snyder's office / State of Michigan

Update 5:30 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed an overhaul of the rules covering Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. Blue Cross would have to pay taxes adding up to $100 million a year or more.

But the company could also make changes to its rates a lot more quickly and easily. That would help it compete for business.
Andy Hetzel is a vice president at Blue Cross. He says the new federal health care law is changing the insurance marketplace and Michigan needs to keep up.

Former Marine Adam Fields, 27, of Modesto, Calif., has been waiting since November 2010 for a ruling on his claim for benefits for traumatic brain injury.
Michael Short / Center for Investigative Reporting

We've written before about the "unfinished business" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... caring for thousands of vets who are coming home after multiple tours with symptoms of PTSD or other disabilities.

Vets seeking benefits to help with their disabilities can face long wait times.

Thanks to a new analysis released today by the Center for Investigative Reporting, we can get a sense for how long those wait times are.

User apoxapox / Flickr

Michigan is out of time to create its own health care exchange, according to Gov. Rick Snyder's office.

The federal health care law requires that states set up a website to assist residents when purchasing health insurance. The online exchange would be designed to help individuals and small businesses comparison shop for insurance policies.

November 16 is the deadline for state governments to show how they intend to operate these exchanges in 2014.

Obesity rates in the U.S. States in orange have obesity rates of 30 percent or more.
Trust for America's Health

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health, the states with the top five obesity rates are:

  1. Mississippi - 34.9 percent
  2. Louisiana - 33.4 percent
  3. West Virginia - 32.4 percent
  4. Alabama - 32.0 percent
  5. Michigan - 31.3 percent

The rates reflect the percent of the population with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Body mass index is a calculation based on weight and height ratios. You can find your body mass index here.

The rates in the report were based on CDC data (part of the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey).

The top five "skinniest" states?

  1. Colorado - 20.7 percent
  2. Hawaii - 21.8 percent
  3. Massachusetts 22.7 percent
  4. New Jersey 23.7 percent
  5. California - 23.8 percent

From the group's issue brief:

 “Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, TFAH executive director. “The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we’re not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a policy speech last fall about the state's struggle with obesity saying "too many Michiganders smoke, are overweight, and don’t exercise." In that speech he called Michigan's health care system "broken." He also set a personal weight reduction goal for himself in the speech - something he's still working on.

Last year the state ranked 10th in the nation in obesity. The Trust for America's Health notes year to year comparisons are difficult because of changes in the CDC's methodology.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.

For a Governor who creates online "dashboards" to measure goals he has set for the state, he gets a little evasive when it comes to one of his goals.

Last fall, Mr. Snyder called Michigan's system of health care "a broken system."

He said too many people in the state smoke, are overweight, and don't exercise.

To set a good example, Snyder said his goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

Some time has passed since that speech, but I thought we should check in on the goal. Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith sat down with Governor Snyder yesterday and put the question to him.

Here's his answer:

"I've lost some, but not enough," said Snyder. When Smith pushed for "poundage," Snyder wouldn't give it up.

It looks like his weight goal has gone the same way as another goal he set for the state in that speech last fall. He asked the legislature to set up a state health care exchange under the federal health care law: so far, this goal is out of his control.

Gabriela Camerotti / Flikr

Patients with heart disease should ask their doctors more questions before undergoing elective heart procedures.

That's according to a study by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the Center and lead author of the study.   

She says whether or not Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients in the study underwent elective heart procedures depended more on where they received their care compared to whether or not it may have been the best option.

"We do believe that most of the use of these services is really more driven by physician preferences than patient preferences," said Udow-Phillips. "Patients do need to be more involved; they need to ask more questions of their physicians before they have a catheterization procedure.  There does need to be a better dialogue between physicians and patients."

The overall rate of these procedures have declined by 19-percent between 1997 and 2008.

Cheyboygan Memorial Hospital

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) - A spokesman for McLaren Health Care Corp. says the health care system has to go before a bankruptcy court judge before it can reopen the emergency room and most outpatient services at Cheboygan Memorial Hospital in northern Michigan.

Kevin Tompkins said Tuesday that Flint-based McLaren has reached an agreement with the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services - a first step in reopening portions of Cheboygan Memorial.

McLaren could go before the bankruptcy court next week. If approved, the reopening process and hiring of staff will start immediately.

The hospital closed unexpectedly April 3 after a sale to McLaren fell through. The Michigan Nurses Association said Monday night that McLaren has formed a partnership with Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey to obtain tentative federal approval.

Some health advocates say Governor Rick Snyder was not bold enough in his State of the State speech on fighting childhood obesity. Governor Snyder mentioned a program in his speech last week that would teach parents about proper nutrition for young children to help combat childhood obesity.

Katherine Knoll is with the Midwest chapter of the American Heart Association. She says kids need direct instruction on how to control their weight, and that should take place in school.

“Just as we don’t expect them to know how to read when they enter school, we don’t expect them to know how to balance that calories-in-calories-out equation, and we need to work with them on that," Knoll says.

Knoll says she hopes the state Legislature will approve a measure that would require all kids in elementary and middle school to have physical education twice a week.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says the governor wants to take a comprehensive approach toward tackling obesity. She says the administration expects to hear soon from the Department of Community Health on details of an obesity-fighting plan.

Last month, shortly after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a ban on healthcare benefits for the domestic partners of some public employees, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement decrying the governor's decision and promised to "challenge the constitutionality of the law on behalf of families who will lose their health protections."

Now it looks like they are moving forward with that promise, according to a story from the Associated Press.

The AP reports that the ACLU "says it will file a lawsuit to challenge" the law and that the group "will discuss the case at a news conference Thursday in Detroit."

- John Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers plan to make another attempt at passing legislation that could prompt insurance coverage for certain autism treatments in 2012.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday that new legislation related to autism coverage is expected early next year.

It's likely the plan will differ in some ways from previous proposals that would have mandated insurers to offer coverage for autism treatments. Those measures were opposed by business and insurance groups that say mandating coverage would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Supporters of an insurance mandate say it would save Michigan money in the long run while helping families with autistic children.

Previous bills that would have mandated insurance companies to offer the coverage died in the Legislature, most recently last year in the Republican-led Senate.

Governor Snyder signed big changes to employer paid benefits into law this afternoon. One limits how much injured workers can be compensated (basing their pay on how much an injured worker could potentially make at another job), and another limits a person's ability to collect unemployment payments.

More from the Associated Press:

The bills would further limit the ability of a person who was fired for cause or who may have left a job voluntarily from collecting jobless benefits.

They would require some unemployed workers to take jobs after 10 weeks of benefits even if the jobs are outside the unemployed worker's previous experience or pay lower wages.

The measures also would push injured workers to seek some type of employment once they're able.

Democrats say the new laws could unfairly keep hurt or jobless workers from getting benefits. Republicans say they'll cut down on fraud.

Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports:

The measures will also allow Michigan to sell bonds to repay unemployment loans to the federal government. Snyder says those loans cost taxpayers almost $40 million in interest this year, and businesses $137 million in penalties.

“By doing this financing we can essentially get out of the penalties and we can lower our interest costs and be successful and give our employers a better path to create jobs, which I want to emphasize is the real point behind this,” said Snyder.

Working moms multitask, and stress, more than dads

Dec 2, 2011

A new study in the December issue of the American Sociological Review comes up with some findings that lots of women may feel they already know too much about: Working mothers spend significantly more time multitasking at home than working dads. And those mothers aren't happy about it.

The Royal Parks website

A community near Akron, Ohio opened a new playground last week - one specially designed for senior citizens.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the playground consists of eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed for older adults.

MAPLE RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Two children and one adult have been sickened by E. coli bacteria in the state. The Mid-Michigan District Health Department says both children from the Maple Rapids area have been hospitalized, while the adult is recovering. The source of the bacteria is under investigation.

A court has thrown out a lawsuit by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Schuette wanted to block a new policy that allows unmarried state workers to put live-in partners on their insurance plans.

The attorney general went to court after attempts by Governor Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature failed to halt the new benefits for unmarried live-in partners  - which includes people in same-sex relationships.

The independent state Civil Service Commission earlier this year approved contracts with state employees that allow live-in partner benefits. The court said the commission acted within the scope of its authority when it approved the contracts. But it’s not settled that state employees will be able to continue to list domestic partners and their children as dependents on their benefits plan. The attorney general could appeal the court ruling.

A state Senate committee has also approved legislation that would ban public employers - such as the state, school districts and universities - from offering contracts that allow unmarried partner benefits.