Health

Brandon Jeffries (left) and Erik Fugunt
Jacqueline Dunkle

One of our most viewed digital stories this year was titled, "Paraplegic Man Saves Another Man's Life; You Can Help Say Thanks." The story was a dramatic one that took place in Mebane, NC. Here's the original story. Don't miss the update at the end of the post.

Our original story 4/15/2014

A picture of insulin vials and a syringe.
.:[ Melissa ]:. / Flickr

A report from Harvard University says one-in-10 North Carolinians has diabetes, and that the disease will cost the state $17 billion per year by 2025.

Sarah Downer is a fellow at Harvard's Health Law and Policy Clinic. She said limited access to healthcare, nutritious foods and safe places to exercise are dangerous to communities.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity, meaning people don't have regular access to nutritious meals. The state also ranks fifth for early childhood obesity.

A picture of the Fishing Pier at Ocean Isle Beach, NC.
Pubdog / Wikipedia

It’s National Rip Current Awareness Week. 

Rip currents killed at least seven people along the North Carolina coast last year, according to the National Weather Service.

Spencer Rogers is a specialist on shore erosion for North Carolina Sea Grant.  He says rip currents are a natural phenomenon that happen when narrow currents of water flow away from the coast.

Vaccine, shot,
Wake Med

State health officials have approved a measure that would require rising 7th graders to receive the meningitis vaccine.

One more administrative step is required before the vaccination would become mandatory. The vaccine is for meningitis and other meningococcal diseases. Bacterial meningitis is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 21, but only about half of thi state's teenagers currently receive the vaccination.
 

Thania Benios Health and Science Editor at UNC

It’s not often that you get the chance to interview your personal hero on the day you become a doctor, but yesterday, I got to do just that. Minutes after I graduated from UNC School of Medicine, I had the chance to speak with UNC commencement speaker Dr. Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande is a Harvard surgeon, best-selling author and has been named one of the world’s 100 most influential thinkers by TIME magazine. His acclaim comes from his ability to write about health care problems in a way that is easy to understand and powerful enough to effect change.

A picture of a girl smoking a cigarette.
medicaldaily.com / creative commons

People who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are much more likely than the rest of the population to take up smoking. But a new report out today from Duke University shows that kids who are treated consistently for their ADHD with stimulant medication are less likely to take up the habit.

Lead author Scott Kollins said nicotine often becomes a comfort for young people who are socially awkward or have trouble concentrating.

“The treatment for ADHD addresses a lot of these things,” Kollins said.

Nurse checking woman's blood pressure while family member watches
www.flickr.com / Dudley's Home Health

  

With days full of physical assessments, patient advocacy, connecting with patients' families, and communicating with physicians, a nurse’s work is never done. And when a hospital is understaffed or under-resourced, nurses take on more patients and extra shifts. 

electronic cigarettes
dikiy via Flickr, Creative Commons

Shortly after the F.D.A. announced newly proposed regulations of the exploding E-Cigarette market, Greensboro-based Lorillard released  a statement on the matter:

A Duke doctor examines a pregnant woman.
Duke Medecine

A new study from North Carolina State University suggests women who suffer abuse during pregnancy are more likely to suffer post-partum mental health problems.

The study was one part of a more comprehensive program looking at health and wellness. The 100 women selected were of a demographic and social status not typically associated with high levels of abuse, which makes some of the finding all the more surprising.

Katie Short (far left in purple), mother Mary next to her.
Jessica Jones

Every month, state lawmakers on the General Assembly’s Health and Human Services Oversight Committee hold meetings to talk about health policy in North Carolina. Legislators sit at the front of the room to discuss their agenda, as staff members, reporters, and lobbyists listen. But in the back of the room, a mother and daughter, Mary and Katie Short, who attend every single meeting keep their eye on things too.

UNC Hospital
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

UNC Healthcare has cut back the number of patients it's seeing at several of its facilities over the past two weeks. The hospital system is in the process of transitioning to a new electronic medical records system, and the cutbacks are part of anticipated roll-out period procedure.

The system, known as EPIC, is the same records software being implemented at Duke and Novant health systems. EPIC will allow patients to more seamlessly transition between the state's hospitals.

HIV microscope image, virus, disease
Duke University

In the last year, Durham County has seen about 100 new cases of HIV reported. It's also seen about 20 new cases of syphilis.

Generally speaking, that's on par with other metro areas in the state, which are seeing more cases of STDs, while North Carolina's rural areas are seeing a decline.

It's hard to know what is accounting for the rise. The most obvious possibility is an increase in unsafe sexual activity. But there's also a chance that, as screening becomes more commonplace and more effective, we're simply identifying more cases that were there to begin with.

Mary Roach is a writer known for asking taboo and wacky questions about the human body, and she continues this pursuit in her latest book, "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal."(W.W. Norton & Company/2013)

Beth Neel, at finish line of Richmond Half Marathon
Beth Neel

The Rock 'N' Roll Raleigh marathon will be held this Sunday. It's a huge event with lots of music, as the name implies. Recently we asked Rock 'N' Roll Raleigh marathon runners two simple questions: "Who Are You?" and "Why Do You Run?"

The very first response we received was from someone telling us why they are NOT running.

U.S. Navy Ens. Frank Percy, right, a physician’s assistant, works alongside a medical student.
Seaman S. C. Irwin, United States Navy

It is a great time to become a physician in the U.S. There is a growing need for doctors of all kinds, so if you invest in medical school, chances are, you will find a job. By the end of this decade, it’s projected that the country will be short 90,000 physicians.

Urban Ministries of Durham's food pantry, which serves community members in need, tends to face extra demand after storms or bad weather.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

More universities in North Carolina are opening food pantries on campus to help hungry students and faculty. 

N.C. Central University started giving out food to its students earlier this week.  It's one of at least eight colleges and universities in the state that have opened food pantries in the last two years. 

Jason O'Briant is a dietetics professor at N.C. Central and helped start the school's pantry.  He says the need for food on college campuses is higher than expected, even for students who receive room and board.
 

Healthcare.gov logo
Healthcare.Gov

    

The deadline for signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. By Monday March 31st, the Obama administration hopes that 6 million Americans will have begun the process of enrollment. 

Doctors at Duke Hospital.
Duke Medecine

The NC Department of Health and Human Services unveiled its plan on Monday to reform the state's Medicaid system. While it had already signaled a shift from Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) months ago, the new plan partially outlines how the state would like to achieve that shift.

Wikipedia

The Farm at Penny Lane is a 40-acre plot of land tucked away in north Pittsboro, North Carolina. But this is no conventional farming operation; it is operated by volunteers and people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

Picture of marijuana plant
Colleen Danger, via flickr, Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says she plans to introduce a bill to legalize a marijuana oil that could help treat childhood seizures.

Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) says she's in the process of drafting the proposal.  It would allow physicians to get an oil that contains a substance called cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from marijuana.  Researchers say the substance, which is not psychoactive, could help children with Dravet Syndrome.  The disorder can cause several seizures a day in young children. 

Dental tools
looneyhiker / Flickr Creative Commons

The state Board of Dental Examiners is considering changes to rules about conscious sedation procedures after two deaths were tied to the practice. 

Conscious sedation is frequently used during some surgeries to depress consciousness, but keep patients responsive and breathing on their own.  Two have died in the last year and a half during those procedures, which the board says are rare incidents. 

COO Bobby White says an investigation found that doctors did not properly monitor the patient's breathing in at least one of those cases.

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

Individuals are enrolling in health care through the federal online marketplace, but thousands of North Carolinians might find themselves with employer-sponsored health plans next year.   

In January, the Affordable Care Act will require businesses to offer health insurance to full-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. This would now include graduate teaching assistants and visiting faculty at the University of North Carolina.

A picture of an intravenous drip bag of saline.
Harmid / Wikipedia

Medical facilities are facing a national shortage of intravenous drugs, especially saline IV drips. Saline is used to treat dehydrated patients.

Manufacturers are stepping up production to meet need, but the shortage has presented problems to hospitals since December, when flu season began.

Zack Moore is an infectious disease epidemiologist with he North Carolina Division of Public Health. He said this is an especially bad time of year to have a limited saline supply for two reasons.

A picture of a stethoscope.
jasleen_kaur / Flickr/Creative Commons

A new online guidebook aims to help connect doctors with public health agencies to fight chronic illnesses like diabetes.  Those illnesses make up 80-percent of health care costs today, compared to only 20-percent in 1900.

Duke's Department of Community and Family Medicine partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch "Public Health and Primary Care Together: A Practical Playbook.” It suggests ways primary care and public health providers can better manage chronic disease and combat rising health care costs.

A scene from Love Alone with Julia Gibson as Helen Warren and Jenny Wales as Dr. Becca Neal.
Playmakers Repertory Company

When Dr. Becca Neal loses a patient after a routine procedure, she grieves much like the patient's family. 

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