Health

Dr. Laura Gerald
NC Division of Public Health

State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald has resigned from that post effective immediately. 

A release from the Department of Health and Human Services said Secretary Aldona Vos accepted the resignation Tuesday.  Gerald served as state health director for the past 18 months.

In a correspondence sent to DHHS employees, Vos thanked Gerald for her service and wished her well on her future endeavors. The secretary also announced temporary replacements in the Division of Public Health

A new study finds that black teens have fewer babies by using birth control, practicing less sex, or having abortions in response to job loss. Contraception.
Bryancalabro via Creative Commons

While there are many studies that highlight the irrational nature of teenagers’ decisions, a new study conducted by researchers at Duke University has just found evidence of the opposite. The study shows that when a community experiences job loss, fewer African-American teenagers have babies.

Christina Gibson-Davis is an associate professor of public policy, sociology and psychology and neuroscience at Duke and one of three authors of the study.

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

Researchers at Duke University have been studying the affect of poverty and parenting on substance abuse in adolescents.  The findings suggest self-control for teens is influenced by economic status earlier in life.  The study shows children growing up in poverty are more likely to smoke as adults. 

NC General Assembly

One of the issues still to be decided by the North Carolina Legislature before it adjourns is whether to approve new rules that Republicans say would make abortion safer.

Democrats say abortions in the state are already very safe, and that the new provisions would lead to clinics closing.

A new report has insights into children's dental health in the state.
Dave Buchwald, creative commons

A North Carolina Institute of Medicine task force released a new study on children's dental care in the state.

Berkeley Yorkery, a project manager with the Institute, says compared to other states, North Carolina has made strides in children's dental participation.

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

A nationwide study of nursing homes says North Carolina's facilities are improving. 

A survey commissioned by the federal government shows more nursing homes scored higher on a five-star health rating system in 2011 than in 2009.  The number of stars awarded is based on health inspections, the amount of staff at each home, and quality-of-life measures. 

Vijay Dey at the White House Kids' State Dinner on July 9.
Mei Dey

Twelve-year-old Chapel Hill resident Vijay Dey took a special trip to the White House last week after being selected as one of 54 nationwide winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a program sponsored by food website Epicurious and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. The Challenge asked young chefs to submit a healthy recipe that meets the USDA’s MyPlate standards, meaning half of the dish is comprised of fruits and vegetables. They also were encouraged to submit the story behind the dish.

Dey’s winning recipe was for Spring Rolls, a dish he said was inspired by his grandfather. “My grandpa makes that recipe and I thought it tasted really good,” Dey said. “And it fit with the MyPlate food group categories.”

Charles Lindquist
Duke Clergy Health Initiative

Like their good friends the Baptists, the Methodists love a good covered dish event. Any church gathering can serve as a reason to bring out the cakes, cookies and casseroles, and in rural North Carolina, that puts church leaders, like Pastor Charles Lindquist, in an awkward position.

“People used to say, ‘get up there in the front of the line’ and you had this feeling of 90 pairs of eyes staring at you to see whose food you were going to take,” says Reverend Lindquist. “So you tried to take some of everything.”

Implanting a Bioengineered Blood Vessel into a patient at Duke University Hospital
Shawn Rocco

A team of doctors implanted a bioengineered blood vessel into a patient with late stage kidney disease at Duke University Hospital in June.   

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

For decades, women have been told to get annual screenings for cervical cancer. In 2009, mounting scientific evidence prompted major groups like the American Cancer Society to recommend less frequent screenings; every 3 years instead of every year.

Despite the revised guidelines, about half of the OB/GYNs surveyed reported they continue to provide yearly exams. Dr. Russell Harris from UNC's Center for Health Services Research says that practice is outdated and may do more harm than good.

The Baker Clinic For Women, which provides abortions, had its license revoked by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Baker Clinic For Women

A Durham clinic that performs abortions was closed last Friday, after an inspection by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. But the owner of that clinic says it will reopen.

In a notice of administrative action delivered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the Baker Clinic was cited because it "failed to ensure quality control was performed in blood banking" and "failed to perform quality control testing on one hundred-eight patients that received Rh(D) [blood type] testing."

For more than a decade, the number of people in our nation who've newly contracted HIV has gone down two percent. But the South doesn't share in that small victory. During the same period of time, the number of people contracting the virus in the South has risen 36 percent.

a pharmicist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

Behavioral health clinics in Wake County are shutting down today. That means about 2,000 people who have mental illnesses and rely on Medicaid are transitioning to treatment from private providers, but the county has been under a time crunch to transfer patients and some doctors worry theirs are falling through the cracks.

Margery Sved is a psychiatrist with Wake County Health and Human Services and one of 200 people who are being laid off today.

Logo for ONE CALL, an HIV call center.
NC School of Public Health

A new statewide call center at UNC-Chapel Hill called ONE CALL will connect people diagnosed with HIV to the medical care, counseling, and other resources they need.

More than three quarters of those living with HIV in North Carolina do not seek treatment. Those who do receive proper treatment have a normal life expectancy and are much less likely to pass the virus on the their partners.

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

Duke University is opening a new center dedicated to research on how to curb teen substance abuse. The new Center for the Study of Adolescent Risk and Resilience or "C-StARR" is benefiting from a $6.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A magnified microscopic image from Duke researchers in the epilepsy study.
Duke University

Researchers at Duke University say they're another step closer to creating preventative treatment for epilepsy.  A study released Thursday says scientists controlled a particular receptor in the brains of mice linked to epileptic seizures.  They were able to stop the development of permanent epilepsy, even after the mice experienced a series of seizures.  Jim McNamara is a Duke neuroscience professor and lead author of the study.  He says the receptor could be a target for future drugs to prevent epilepsy in humans.

"Ideally, what you would like is to be able to intervene for a brief period of time and have that intervention be effective for prevention, because you can minimize unwanted effects of the drug," McNamara said. "You don't have to be on the drug for the rest of your life."

Elderly woman, Senior Citizen, Walking, Park,
Matthew Sanders via Flickr, Creative Commons

The Alamance County D.A. has started an effort to protect senior citizens from being crime victims.  Pat Nadolsli kicked off the 'Elder Abuse Initiative' Friday.  He says Alamance County data showed more than 300 cases of elder abuse and exploitation from 2011 to 2012.  Nadolski says the plan is to stop these crimes in the many forms they can take.

The IPAS logo
Ipas

  Forty years ago, the controversial supreme court decision Roe Versus Wade ushered in a new era of reproductive rights and touched off a culture war that has waged ever since.

Diagram of human brian.
Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at NC State say it's safer and more cost effective for the government to treat people with mental illnesses. 

a pharmacist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

Differences in state budget proposals are prompting mental health advocates to rally for more spending on group homes and treatment. 

Gov. Pat McCrory's budget increases spending on mental health by about 2 percent over the next two years.  But the state Senate's plan cuts about 3 percent. 

Pregnant woman.
Montse PB via flickr, Creative Commons

North Carolina's teen birth rate is down significantly as more of them wait to have children. 

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about four percent of North Carolina teens are having children.  That's down more than one percentage point since 2007. 

Salmonella, magnified 15,000X, virus, disease
CDC/ Janice Haney Carr

The number of people sickened by salmonella traced to a Fayetteville area hotel has risen to at least 82.  Officials say the outbreak happened earlier this month at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux.  Buck Wilson is the public health director for Cumberland County.  He says finding the precise cause is challenging. 

Kimberly Blackwell
medicaloncology.medicine.duke.edu / Duke Medical Oncology

Time Magazine comes out with a list of the 100 most influential people each year. Names like Justin Timberlake and Barack Obama made the grade in 2013. But also on the list was Duke oncologist Dr. Kimberly Blackwell.  She was celebrated for her achievements improving chemotherapy treatments for a certain kind of breast cancer.

Computer, medical.
Tabitha Kaylee Hawk via flickr, Creative Commons

The state Auditor has found that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services did not fully test a new computer system.

The DHHS system was installed to start processing Medicaid claims beginning in July.   Beth Wood's audit found that the nearly $500 million computer system was not put through all of its paces.  The report raises questions about the software and its ability to handle Medicaid claims paid by the state that exceed $12 billion. 

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. 

Scientists are looking at caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans' diets.  Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition.

Warren County Free Clinic Sign
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina has one of the best networks of free clinics in the country.  Support from funders like the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation has helped take care of some of the state’s neediest patients; those who don’t qualify for Medicare of Medicaid.  Warren County – northeast of Raleigh – is home to one of the busiest free clinics in North Carolina.  But funding cuts have resulted in less service at a crucial time in the nation’s health care fight.

HIV microscope image, virus, disease
Duke University

Researchers at Duke University are using a flaw in an HIV vaccine in order to develop new formulas to fight off the virus. 

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, hospital
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Thousands of employees at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem will be affected by several cost-cutting measures. The hospital is planning to freeze some hiring, reduce retirement contributions and ask employees to voluntarily take furloughs.

The Seventh Angel By Alex McKeithen
http://www.theseventhangelbook.com/

When Alex McKeithen was a junior at Davidson College in the late '80s, his life changed. He was visiting Paris and studying art when one day he found himself stripping naked in public and proclaiming himself the seventh angel of the apocalypse. It was the beginning of an undiagnosed episode of bipolar disorder, and that experience is the focus of his memoir, "The Seventh Angel" (Lorimer Press/2012).

B.J. Sanders and her son Chad tell of losing a family member to a drug overdose.
Community Care NC

In 2009, Wilkes County in the northwestern part of the state had the 4th highest rate of prescription drug overdose deaths in the country. Two years later, those numbers dropped by 68 percent. That's because of a program called Project Lazarus, which is now going to be implemented statewide.

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