Health

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. 

Dancing Through It My Journey In The Ballet Image of Jennifer in Pink Costume against black background
us.penguingroup.com / Penguin

    

In 2010, Jenifer Ringer starred as the sugar plum fairy in the New York City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. And when a New York Times dance critic insinuated in a review of the performance that Jenifer was overweight, she responded.  Her recent book Dancing Through It: My Journey in The Ballet talks about how she overcame that criticism and her struggle with health and weight (Penguin/2014). 

The state's nursing homes and elder care facilities are improving, according to a new study.
SalFalko / Flickr

After a hospital stay, many seniors on Medicare will go to a nursing facility to rehabilitate before going home. But a new study from Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill and the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence shows many of them return to the hospital before long.

Mark Toles teaches at UNC's Nursing school and is a co-author of the report. He said nursing homes often provide good care, but the transition back home can be difficult.

http://www.wikihow.com/Treat-Meningitis-%28Spinal-Meningitis%29
WikiHow: Creative Commons.

A Chapel Hill teen died suddenly on Wednesday. The Orange County Health Department suspects it was caused by a bacteria called meningococcus. It can lead to meningitis and blood infections. Both bring body aches and a rash among other symptoms.

The Chapel Hill boy only noticed symptoms a day before, but health officials estimate he was exposed to the bacteria last week.

Zack Moore is a medical epidemiologist with the state Division of Public Health.

a pharmacist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

This week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced that 6,400 people went all the way through the process of enrolling for a plan on the federal exchange, but never paid their first month's premium. Thus, they were never eligible to receive benefits. The federal government, however, has been including those people in its tally of newly enrolled individuals.

The Affordable Care Act requires that individuals pay their first month's premium before they can receive benefits.

Rocky Mount Police http://www.rockymountnc.gov/police/gangawareness.html

Rocky Mount community members and leaders are gathering at Word Tabernacle Church tonight for a public forum. This comes just weeks after four boys were shot on the church basketball court, and another was killed in a drive-by shooting.

Word Tabernacle Church Pastor James Gailliard said the tragedies have been a catalyst for social dialogue. He said he sees people crossing the aisle politically and having constructive discussions about how to combat gang violence, poverty and joblessness in the community.

Rex Mammography Unit
Leoneda Inge

Rex Healthcare is back on the road with a brand new mobile mammography unit screening for breast cancer.

You can’t miss the shiny, pink and purple Mobile Mammography Unit.

“Yeah, we love it, she’s very pretty," said Wendy Avery, Mobile Mammography Coordinator.

The "pink" mammography unit is often called "she."  “She” welcomed about 25 women Thursday, parked outside Revlon’s manufacturing plant in Oxford.

Elderly senior citizen hand on cane
Meena Kadri, Flickr, Creative Commons

Regulators who oversee quality at the state's long-term care facilities depend on trained volunteers to visit assisted-living and nursing homes and report back about conditions. But there are ongoing vacancies on the citizen advisory committees in the Triangle.

Dennis Streets is the director of the state health department division on Aging and Adult services. He said the job is more important than ever.

Community Care of North Carolina

North Carolina is enrolling more uninsured people than any other state that refused to set up its own health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care policy director Adam Searing of the NC Justice Center says the state-run Medicaid system, Community Care, has made a big difference.

The state has encouraged social and health services to cooperate to provide Medicaid patients solid care up front, and now friends and family members who don't qualify for Medicaid have affordable options and guidance for enrolling in private healthcare.

A new study looks at the availability of caloric information from fast food restaurants online.
jasonlam via Flickr, Creative Commons

It's easy to point the finger at fast food joints. A decade after the breakout documentary, Super Size Me, the cheap, un-nutritious, happy meal is a go-to candidate for public ire when it comes to childhood obesity.

But a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina says that explanation might be too easy.

Tony Geraci

    

Tony Geraci is best known as "Cafeteria Man." He is on a mission to transform menus at school cafeterias and give students healthier options. He launched a farm-to-school program in Contoocook N.H. Then he went on to make changes in larger school systems in Baltimore and Memphis.

National Naval Medical Center physician, Capt. David Thompson performs an ear tube surgery on a young hospital patient. According to Thompson, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, ear tubes are very common among children and dramatically reduce ...
Seaman Erica Mater / U.S. Navy 040203-N-4182M-001

Researchers at the University of North Carolina and RTI International have found that children who have tubes implanted in their ears to remove fluid pressure fare just as well in the long run as kids who wait out the symptoms under a doctor's care.

The small tubes are surgically implanted in a child’s eardrums to relieve the condition, called otitis media with effusion. Nearly 670,000 kids undergo the procedure in America each year, making it one of the most common surgeries for children.

Bill Roper, UNC Health Care
UNC

Americans pay more per capita for healthcare than anywhere in the world, but the outcomes are far from the best. And when it comes to improving the system, the only thing experts agree on is that its complicated. The Affordable Care Act is an attempt at comprehensive reform.

Bill Roper is head of the UNC Health Care system. He has spoken out in favor of Obamacare. He acknowledges there are downsides, but he says there is one undeniable benefit.:

Updated Wednesday 1/8/14: So, earlier this week, I told you about a little game I play with my husband every January. It involves our grocery money.

We give ourselves a budget, and tell ourselves that, no matter what, we will not go over that amount of money for groceries.

On Sunday (our shopping day) gave ourselves $150 that should last all week for our 3-person family. (Usually we just "try our best" with our shopping, but don't give ourselves a monetary limit.) We spent $60 for our first shop and had $90 left for the rest of the week.

Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh

The spectacle, ummm...sporting event, that is known as the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is headed to Raleigh this April. Are you familiar with it?

The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is a tour. It heads to cities around the U.S. and the world in order to stage marathons. Before they reach Raleigh, marathons will be held in New Orleans, Washington, DC, Dallas, and San Francisco. (They will also hold international events prior to reaching North Carolina, in Nice, France; and Madrid, Spain.)

Special Olympics NC

I've been poking around the internet, wondering if any athletes with ties to North Carolina will be headed to the games in Sochi next month.

I didn't find any (yet), but I did find a winter games, happening now. Without fanfare, network TV contracts, or endorsements, 130 athletes with special needs have gathered for the NC Winter Special Olympics at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock.

The competition is reportedly fierce in alpine skiing and snowboarding. 130 regional competitors hail from as far away as Virginia.

Vaccine, shot,
Wake Med

 A Washington non-profit group says North Carolina ranks high in stopping infectious diseases.  The Trust for America's Health released a report on a year-long study that says the state hit seven of 10 marks in preventing outbreaks.  Spokesman Albert Lang says North Carolina is focused on more than just maladies common in less-developed nations.

One in nine elderly adults will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But if you’re African-American, that number almost doubles. A long-term study out of North Carolina A & T is beginning to shed some light on why. Host Frank Stasio talks to A & T biology professor and lead researcher on Alzheimer’s, Dr. Goldie Byrd.

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