Health

Whooping Cough Cases Increasing In North Carolina

Jun 25, 2012

Pertussis, often known as Whooping Cough, is on the rise in North Carolina.

Asma Khalid: Whooping cough sounds antiquated - like something you could catch on "The Oregon Trail." But, it's not just a fictional computer game disease. North Carolina health officials have witnessed a number of recent outbreaks. To date, they've tracked 179 cases. That's already more than in all of 2011.  The State's Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging people to get immunized, no matter how old they are. Zack Moore is an epidemiologist with the state.

A years-long project to coordinate heart attack care among North Carolina's hundreds of hospitals and emergency services has shortened response times and reduced the number of deaths.

That's according to a study out this week. One of its authors is Duke cardiologist James Jollis. He says one way the system reduced response times was by creating standard statewide practices for EMS workers.

A network of health experts, policymakers and advocates in the fight against AIDS are gathering for a conference today near the state capitol.

Leoneda Inge: The rate of new HIV cases in North Carolina is 41-percent higher than the national rate. Lisa Hazirjian is the Executive Director of North Carolina AIDS Action Network.

Lisa Hazirjian: It is very scary and it’s part of a southern situation where throughout the southeast we see disproportionately high incidents of new HIV infections.

WakeMed Hospital has withdrawn its takeover bid of UNC-owned Rex Healthcare. The cross-town rivals are putting an end to their public battle that escalated when WakeMed issued an unsuccessful bid to buy Rex last year for 750 million dollars. The announcement comes after state lawmakers helped broker an agreement between the two institutions' officials. Bill Atkinson is the CEO of WakeMed.

Wake County residents who need mental health care could become UNC Health Care patients later this year.

Graham Hughes
sas.com

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Cary-based information technology giant SAS are collaborating to provide more personalized health care.

Senator Kay
Office of Senator Kay Hagan

Senator Kay Hagan toured UNC Children's Hospital yesterday as part of a push for her bill that would streamline approval of treatments for serious and rare diseases.

Hagan says the Food and Drug Administration needs to find faster ways to get treatments to patients suffering from rare diseases.

A legislative committee has voted to recommend limiting the size of UNC Health Care.

Wake and Orange counties are the healthiest in the state. That's according to a new study ranking health outcomes by county across the nation. In North Carolina and elsewhere, the healthiest counties tend to be the wealthiest. Michelle Larkin is with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which compiled the study with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Researchers at Duke University say a new study shows promising results from a program promoting weight loss for obese patients. The study's authors say the program starts at primary care clinics and focuses on high-risk patients from ethnic minority populations and low income groups. Gary Bennett is an associate professor at Duke and worked on the study.

Duke researchers say the reasons for a decline in health among recent immigrants may be more complicated than health experts thought. Duke Sociologist Jen'nan Read says researchers may have been drawing the wrong conclusion from data showing that immigrants arrive in the U.S. healthy and then become less so.

Duke Cancer Center Opens

Feb 24, 2012

Cancer patients across the state have a new place to go for treatment. After a week of dedications and tours, the Duke Cancer Center opens to patients Monday. Doctor Michael Kastan is the Executive Director of the Duke Cancer Institute. He says the state-of-the-art seven story building unites a large number of specialists under one roof.

UNC Chapel Hill this afternoon will officially mark the opening of its new Comprehensive Angelman Syndrome Clinic at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Anne Wheeler is a psychologist at CIDD; she's also co-coordinator for the new clinic. She says Angelman Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder that occurs in about 1 in 15-thousand births.

Contrary to what doctors have believed for decades, a high-fiber diet may not stave off one intestinal disease. That's the conclusion of a study from UNC-Chapel Hill. It found no correlation between a lack of fiber and a higher incidence of diverticulosis. Anne Peery is the study's lead researcher.

Anne Peery: It's too early to tell patients what to do differently, but these results are really exciting for researchers. It gives us the opportunity to look at a disease process in new ways and to really rethink why people develop asymptomatic diverticulosis.

A new study finds that breast cancer survivors had limited knowledge about their surgical options, including decisions that can help prevent recurrence of the disease. The findings are reported in this month's issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Clara Lee, a surgeon at UNC Hospitals, is a co-author of the study. She says the quality of decisions patients make is directly related to how well health providers inform patients about their choices.

A state task force is recommending $50,000 be given to every victim of North Carolina's eugenics program.

Listen to Jessica Jones's story on Morning Edition

A new emergency department is open in Raleigh. WakeMed's latest free-standing medical facility is in Brier Creek, near the Wake-Durham county line. WakeMed's Carolyn Knaup says they chose the location based on the area's rapid growth.

Carolyn Knaup: It's totally locally driven - i.e., when you need emergency care, you need it close to where you live or where you work. So, in doing our demographic assessment really felt like the Brier Creek area afforded lots of opportunity to be able to meet the need in that community.

Doctors at UNC Chapel Hill want to improve the physical health of patients with severe mental illness. U-N-C's Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health has received a grant from the Duke Endowment to create a "health home" for patients with mental illness. Director John Gilmore says people with serious mental health issues like schizophrenia sometimes have trouble tending to their physical health. Gilmore says psychiatrists treating patients at the center will look out for other problems as well.

Attorney General Roy Cooper
governor.state.nc.us

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today what he calls the "first wave" of ramped up efforts to fight Medicaid fraud in the state. Cooper says 18 people in 10 counties have been arrested in the past week. He says the total monetary loss to the Medicaid program from these cases is more than half a million dollars.

One North Carolina hospital is using a new device to help patients who have congestive heart failure.

Wake Forest Baptist health is the first hospital in the state implanting the dual ventricular lead. In laymans terms it’s a more advanced pacemaker. The small device will help hearts pump more blood and with a better rhythm. Dr. Glenn Brammer is a Cardiac Electro Physiologist. He says this device also has 10 internal vectors that allow physicians options after the procedure. 

A vaccine plant in the Triangle has been recognized by the federal government as a facility ready to react to a flu outbreak. It's the first such distinction for a pharmaceutical company in the country. Doctors at the Novartis plant in Holly Springs say they can produce a large amount of vaccines at a quicker rate. Doctor Vas Narasimhan is the president of Novartis USA. He says the facility uses cell cultures to develop the vaccine rather than the tradition cultivation of the virus in chicken eggs.

A new health care facility for patients with chronic illnesses opens tomorrow in Chapel Hill. The clinic called Carolina Advanced Health is a joint effort between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and UNC Health Care. It's designed to treat members of Blue Cross with chronic illnesses like diabetes, COPD and depression. Doctor Thomas Warcup is the director of the new facility. He says it brings together different specialists to keep patients out of the Emergency Room or urgent care clinics.

A non-profit that supports new mothers in Durham County is getting a boost from President Obama's healthcare measure. Healthy Families Durham will use a $320,000 grant to support new families in east Durham. Program Director Jan Williams says they'll be providing home visits for two reasons.

Community groups across North Carolina are holding classes this week designed to teach adults how to recognize when someone is sexually abusing a child. The issue has gotten more attention since a former football coach at Penn State was accused of sexually abusing boys over several years. More than 80 YMCA and health care facilities in North Carolina have sought the help of a program called “Darkness to Light.” Program CEO Jolie Logan says the classes teach adults warning signs to look for when they suspect child sex abuse.

Officials say a livestock building at the State Fair is the likely source of an E-coli outbreak that made 27 fairgoers sick.

State officials say their investigation doesn't point to any specific animal or breed of animal. But they're confident the bacteria came from the Kelley building at the fairgrounds, where cows, goats and sheep were housed. Megan Davies is the state epidemiologist.

Megan Davies: "It is shed intermittently by these animals naturally, so it's likely to be on an animal or in their environment at any given moment. "

A new study from Duke University sheds more light on teen drug use. Researchers found Native American youths have the highest rate of drug use followed by whites, Latinos, African Americans and Asians. Dan Blazer is a professor of psychiatry at Duke and senior author on the study. He says drugs are a serious problem among 12 to 17 year-olds.

State officials investigating an outbreak of E-Coli say there are now nine confirmed cases of the bacterial infection. Fifteen more possible cases are being investigated. All 24 of those people attended the state fair. The venue is believed to be the source of the outbreak, but a direct cause has not been confirmed yet. Dr. Megan Davies is North Carolina's state epidemiologist.

A new report released by a reproductive rights organization says crisis pregnancy centers often provide pregnant women with inaccurate information. NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina investigated 66 centers over the course of a year. The centers seek to discourage women from abortions by offering free ultrasounds. Carey Pope is NARAL North Carolina's executive director. She says 92 percent of clinics- called CPCs- investigated do not employ medical staff.

A conference today in Chapel Hill is focused on sexual health in the young Hispanic population. It's being hosted by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Finley says they'll be exploring how to tackle the staggering problem of teen pregnancy in the Hispanic community.

A new counseling program begins tonight for teens in the Triad.

Text 4 Teens is a program that allows youths to seek support without saying a word. Teenagers can use texting to find help with depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse pressures or relationship problems. Michael Cottingham with Center Point Human Services believes using newer technology is the best way to connect.

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