Health

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.

Two horses at play.
goingslo via Flickr Creatibe Commons

State veterinarians are investigating signs of a rare virus in four horses at a north Raleigh farm.  The disease, Equine Herpesvirus-1 -- or EHV-1, is only contracted by horses and cannot affect people.

Tom Ray is director of livestock health programs at the state Department of Agriculture.   He says there are several ways the virus can be spread among horses.

Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, and professor of Pediatrics at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. sitting in a movie theater
http://news.unchealthcare.org/ / UNC Healthcare and school of medicine

    

Movies like Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and Up, may seem like harmless entertainment. But a new study shows these films may promote unhealthy behavior, especially eating habits, to young people. 

Alex E. Proimos via Flickr

Doctors too often miss the opportunity to talk with their teenage patients about sex during annual visits, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

A study released this week in JAMA Pediatrics shows that less than two thirds of doctors and teenage patients talk about sex and sexuality during checkups, with most conversations lasting an average of 36 seconds.  

Cleveland Shields, a researcher on the study, says the findings show that doctors need to approach the topic more often and for longer periods of time to better address the sexual health needs of teenagers.

Albemarle Sound, NC
NASA / PD-USGOV

Federal cuts mean the state will stop monitoring water quality at several dozen swimming sites along coastal rivers and sounds in the coming year. The Environmental Protection Agency cut $22,000 from a grant for the testing.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries uses a combination of state and federal funds to test 240 swimming areas for certain bacteria.

Director Louis Daniel says the division has notified county heath and summer camp directors that it will stop testing water quality at 41 swimming areas in coastal rivers and sounds.

Creative Commons

Doctors are increasingly concerned by the risk of concussions in football and other sports.  

The National Football League Players Association is partnering with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Brain and Body Health Program and other universities to help better treat and evaluate former players for injury, particularly to the brain.

map of US
CarInsuranceComparison.com

Apparently we've hit a nerve. We posted the news that North Carolina was tied for 7th for the dubious honor of nation's worst drivers. It was our most viewed story through Twitter yesterday. (See the original story below.)

The original story, posted Monday 12/16/13:

Texting and driving, drinking and driving, distracted driving, careless driving. Crashes, fatalities. Every year, horrific things happen out there on the roads. And more and more of us are getting on the roads to drive during the holiday season.

UNC Health Care
UNC Health Care / UNC Health Care

UNC Health Care announced a new partnership with Nash Health Care in Rocky Mount on Monday. The partnership allows Nash to access some of the resources of the larger UNC system, including medical supplies and management services.

The partnership gives UNC 0.2% of Nash's annual revenue, or an estimated $400,000-a-year to start.

A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

North Carolina doesn't spend enough to keep people from smoking or help them quit. That's according to a report from a coalition of health organizations.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids report ranked North Carolina 45th in the country for spending on smoking and chewing prevention or cessation programs. The report says the state spent none of its tobacco tax revenue on those programs in fiscal year 2013.

Ricky Diaz of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says the state wants to serve its residents.

Chapel Hill Car Accident
Triplezero / Flikr

After a six-year dip in the number of traffic fatalities in North Carolina, deaths in 2012 rose by 5.5 percent. That's according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency says 1,292 people died in car accidents in North Carolina last year, with 33,561 fatalities occurring nationwide.

NC State University

North Carolina State University recently beefed up its toxicology database, which could help revolutionize pharmaceutical research.

NC State's Comparitive Toxicogenomics Database already cataloged the harmful health impacts of environmental chemicals, like arsenic. Then pharmaceutical giant Pfizer collaborated with the CTD to add unintended side effects of therapeutic drugs.

Brian Southwell's new book studies the effectiveness of social networking in spreading health news.
John Hopkins Press

Scientists and public health officials are increasingly turning to social media and peer-to-peer networks to educate the public.  

NC Department of Health and Human Services logo
NC Department of Health and Human Services

  

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services' policy manual requires justification memos whenever the department hires contract workers.

A records request by the News and Observer shows several hirings were made without the proper documentation. Host Frank Stasio talks with Joe Neff, investigative reporter for the News and Observer, about the department’s procedures.

Teens at a high school football game
Brad Barlow / Flickr

More than half of teens with psychiatric disorders go untreated, and those who do get help often get it from non-mental health specialists, according to a study co-authored by Duke University researchers this month.

 About 45 percent of teens who have a psychiatric disorder received treatment in the 12 months prior to the study, and those getting help most often receive it from school counselors, pediatricians or probation officers.  

Nursing students working in the simulation lab during class.
Lower Columbia Community College / Flickr

Two North Carolina schools are partnering to provide future nurses with a path to a bachelors degree.

The new program is a joint venture of North Carolina Central University and Central Carolina Community College.  It's designed to allow students at the community college to take university-level nursing courses.  Betty Dennis is chair of the NCCU Nursing department.  She said many nurses never bother to get a four-year degree.

Duke University Hospital
Duke Medecine

Durham County public health officials are investigating a child's death that may have been because of a case of bacterial meningitis.  The health department says the child was rushed to Duke University Hospital after showing symptoms of the disease Wednesday.   

Thursday, operators at the daycare the child attended, Mount Zion Christian, closed the school to be cleaned and disinfected.  Public health spokesman Eric Nickens says he wants parents to know that just being around an infected child will not pass the disease along. 

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.
Flickr.com

A total of 1,662 North Carolinians have signed up for a health plan in the federal marketplace.

That's according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 30 states that have signed up individuals, North Carolina has the fourth most, behind Florida (3,571), Texas (2,991) and Pennsylvania (2,207). 

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

  The Affordable Care Act is reaching into every community in the United States.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.
Flickr.com

State health officials are trying to cut the number of people with behavioral disorders who end up in the Emergency Room. 

The Department of Health and Human Services says it's creating an advisory panel of health experts and patient advocates.  The group's job will be to recommend improvements at the local level for mental health and substance abuse services. 

Division of Mental Health director Dave Richard says there's apparent confusion about where to send those patients now that the state has moved away from community mental health centers.

Inside of an ambulance
adesigna / Flickr Creative Commons

EMS officials in an eastern North Carolina county will have to expand their services as another rural hospital shuts down. 

The Vidant Pungo Hospital in the town of Belhaven will be closed by next spring.  The facility is in Beaufort County, but it's the closest hospital for residents of neighboring Hyde County, which has about 6,000 people. 

Hyde County EMS director Justin Gibbs says the next closest facilities with emergency services are about 30 miles farther away.

"We're going to have to look at rewriting our system plan," Gibbs says.

Prescription drugs at a pharmacy.
Aunti P via Flickr, Creative Commons

North Carolina residents have turned in millions of unused pills this year as part of a effort to fight substance abuse.  State Attorney General Roy Cooper says more than 9,500,000 prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected during the fall months by police agencies statewide. 

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