Health

Hospitals in eastern North Carolina are now using an online message board that lists beds available for patients with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems. Sixteen facilities are using the pilot program designed to streamline the admission process for those patients. Luckey Welsh is the director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities. He says patients can sometimes spend days in the Emergency Room while the hospital looks for an available bed.

UNC Chapel Hill researchers have found that most Mexican immigrants to the United States adopt a more "American" diet despite the abundance of Hispanic food options. Carolina Batis is a P-h-D candidate in nutrition at UNC and author of the study. She says some of the changes include more healthy items like fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, and fish.

A health-provider system that has worked well for Medicaid recipients will soon be available for state employees and big business.  It’s called “First in Health.” 

“First in Health” is born out of a Medicaid program that supports a team approach to health care.  It’s where you have specialists, primary care physicians, pharmacists and others coordinating services.  Doctor Allen Dobson is president of Community Care of North Carolina.  He says private employers are now saying – this can work for us.

Duke University researchers are recommending a simple test to determine whether newborns have a serious health concern. About one percent of all babies are born with congenital heart disease. But spotting the problem early can be difficult. Doctor Alex Kemper is an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke. He says there is an easy way to help pinpoint the problem.

Durham is one of seven counties in North Carolina chosen to participate in a national, long-term children's health study. The National Children's Study is the largest long-term study on children's health ever done in the U-S. It seeks to recruit pregnant women or women expecting to be pregnant and then follow their children all the way to their 21st birthdays. Researchers will collect data from the children's environment to see how that correlates to any number of health problems that may develop.

A team of researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke have taken a step forward in targeting diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. Scientists studied parts of human cells called mitochondria, which produce a cell's energy. The study found a protein linked to cancer causes mitochondria to divide. Duke Medicine doctor David Kashatus says that division can cause cancer cells to form under the right conditions.

Groundbreaking Clinic To Treat New Mothers

Aug 11, 2011

After childbirth, most new moms will experience some form of what doctors call the “baby blues.” That’s the low feeling after childbirth that comes from a dramatic drop in hormones. But for some women, those feelings persist and turn into post partum depression. In the most severe cases, these women need to be hospitalized.

A new state hotline aims to help consumers who have questions about their health insurance.

State officials, physicians, patient advocates and Medicaid recipients attended a public forum earlier today about big changes to one of the state's largest entitlement programs. In June, lawmakers at the General Assembly directed state health officials to cut more than 350 million dollars from Medicaid spending. Jessica Jones reports officials hope forums like this will help them decide where to cut costs.

State officials, healthcare providers, and patient advocates will gather at N-C State today for a public forum on cuts to the state's Medicaid program.

The state budget passed in June requires the Department of Health and Human Services to cut 354 million dollars from its Medicaid budget. It's one of the largest reductions to health programs in state history, according to the head of the department, Secretary Lanier Cansler. He says it's going to require a group effort to decide exactly what to cut.

UNC Chapel Hill is partnering with the state's community colleges in an effort to fight cancer. Public health researchers will work with all 58 of the state's community colleges to identify cancer prevention programs that work and implement them in the schools. Laura Linnan is a professor at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health and the project's principal investigator.

Creative people are more likely to cheat and lie. That's according to a new study out of Duke University. Dan Ariely is a Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke and co-author of the study. He says the research shows the ability to think creatively makes someone more likely to use that ability for personal gain.

Texting 911 in Durham

Aug 3, 2011

Emergency Dispatch services in Durham County can now receive text messages. Verizon subscribers in distress in Durham can now send an text message to 9-1-1. The six month trial is a joint venture between the wireless company and the county. The capability was installed at no charge to taxpayers. Jim Soukup of the Durham Police Department says the trial opens the door for the integration of sophisticated mobile phone technology.

Cumberland County is in danger of losing its only rape crisis center. Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County Director Deanne Hardin, says they didn't get an expected $35,000 private grant. She says their board of directors informed her last week there wouldn't be money to pay the staff's three employees.

Memory device
ncsu.edu

A team of researchers at NC State has high hopes their creation could lead to much larger innovations. They've developed a simple memory device, a primitive version of what you'd find in your computer. Except this one is made of a Jell-O-like substance. It's soft and squishy and can function underwater. Michael Dickey is an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State. He says the device is notable not just because of its mechanical properties.

Why UNC and WakeMed Both Want Rex

Jul 12, 2011
Rex Hospital
rexhealth.com

In May, the board of trustees of WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh made an offer to buy Rex Hospital from UNC Healthcare. UNC has owned Rex since 2000.

Try calling your local hospital to find the price of a procedure, or a surgery. You can’t find it, in part because everybody pays something different.

Researchers at UNC Chapel Hill will be leading an effort to find a cure for HIV AIDS. The National Institutes of Health awarded a $32 million, 5-year grant to UNC. That money will then be distributed to 19 different laboratories at 9 different academic institutions. David Margolis is a professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology in the UNC School of Medicine and is a lead researcher with the project. He says previous efforts have lead to anti-retroviral drugs that have improved and prolonged the life of people with HIV.

The FDA has approved a Triangle company's method of treating dry-eye disease. The medical-device company TearScience announced today it will start producing its product called LipiFlow. TearScience president and CEO Tim Willis says it's a treatment that includes a series of procedures to open obstructed oil glands in the eyelids that usually keep eyes moisturized.

Two Pint-sized former patients cut the ribbon on a new unit in the Newborn Critical Care Center at The North Carolina Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill today. A crowd of parents, children and staff were present for the opening of 'Pod G.' It adds 10 beds and brings the center's capacity to 58 beds. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Chapel Hill admits premature and ill babies from other hospitals in the state which are not equipped to deal with them. Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Alan Stiles says the addition will take pressure off the unit.

Fayetteville barbers have joined with health officials to inform their customers about the risks of prostate cancer. Cumberland County is one of seven counties in North Carolina with a prostate cancer rate higher than the national average. Barber shops serve as a social hub for many minority communities. Officials hope a barber's suggestion will motivate customers to get a prostate-cancer test. Douglas Dolberry of the Konnecte Kut Barber shop in Fayetteville, says the response so far has been great.

A study from UNC-Chapel Hill has found elevated levels of abuse and eating disorders in pregnant women who experience depression. Doctors at the UNC School of Medicine say about one-third of pregnant women with depression also experienced eating disorders. About 1 percent of the general population has an eating disorder. Doctor Samantha Meltzer-Brody is the lead author of the study. She says physicians should routinely test pregnant women for eating disorders and abuse.

Budget Could Eliminate Teen Anti-Smoking Campaign

Jun 10, 2011
Tobacco Reality Unfiltered
realityunfiltered.com

  The budget on Governor Bev Perdue's desk would eliminate the Health and Wellness Trust Fund. And that has some public health experts worried. 

One of the Fund's best known programs is an aggressive teen anti-smoking campaign called Tobacco Reality Unfiltered, or T-R-U. The budget would allow for some of the fund's money to go to the department of health and human services which could create a similar program. 
But Doctor Adam Goldstein, from the tobacco prevention and evaluation program at UNC Chapel Hill says their research shows T-R-U has reached most of the kids in the state and makes a difference. 

Cancer Patients Pay High Out Of Pocket Expenses

Jun 7, 2011

Patients are spending hundreds of dollars a month for out- of-pocket expenses while they're being treated for cancer - even if they're insured. 

The new study led by Duke researcher Yousuf Zafar queried more than 200 cancer patients - all but a handful were insured and most had prescription coverage. Zafar says he found patients were spending an average of $712 a month on out-of-pocket expenses. And Zafar says 30 percent of patients reported having a significant financial burden as a result of care.

North Carolina lawmakers discuss a proposal this week that would require consumers to get a prescription for medicines that contain pseudoephedrine. That's a key ingredient in methamphetamine. The number of meth labs has been on the rise lately as producers are finding more efficient ways to make it. Consumer advocates say the bill would make it difficult to buy medicine for common ailments like seasonal allergies. But Attorney General Roy Cooper says more restrictions would cut criminal activity.

A statewide advocacy group is launching a new program to raise awareness of pool safety. The campaign by "Safe Kids North Carolina" aims to improve safety at pools and encourage simple steps that can save lives. Director Kelly Ransdell says about 400 kids under the age of 14 drown in pools and spas each year in the United States.

Young Adults Show High Blood Pressure

May 26, 2011
Add Health logo
Carolina Population Center

  More young adults are developing high blood pressure - that's the finding of research from UNC Chapel Hill. 

Since 1995, researchers around the country have been interviewing groups of adolescents and then following them and their health as they grow into adulthood. The study - calledAdd Health - is lead by demographer Kathleen Mullen Harris, from UNC.  Harris says they found about one-in-five people in their twenties and early thirties had high blood pressure. And that's worrisome. 

State health officials have approved reinstating of the bachelor's program in nursing at Fayetteville State University. Chancellor James Anderson suspended the program two years ago due to low test scores and conflicts among nursing instructors. Nursing Department Chair Afua Arhin says there are now safeguards to prevent those issues.

NC Residents Get Older

May 20, 2011

The government continues to roll out new details from the 2010 Census.  Figures released yesterday show North Carolina residents are getting older.

The median age of North Carolinians is 37-point-4 years. Ten years ago – the median age was 35. Bob Coats is the liaison between the Governor’s Office and the Census Bureau.  He explains one of several possible reasons for the age increase.

UNC Health Care Board Considers WakeMed Offer

May 17, 2011

UNC Health Care board members say they're not interested in selling Rex Hospital to WakeMed.

Last week, officials at WakeMed sent a letter to U-N-C President Tom Ross offering to buy Rex Hospital for 750 million dollars. That's about three times what UNC paid to buy Rex 11 years ago. Yesterday afternoon, board members for UNC Health Care sent Ross a resolution saying a committee will study the financial implications of selling the Raleigh hospital. But the resolution says Rex is an integral part of UNC's teaching and business infrastructure. 

A proposal from WakeMed to buy Rex Healthcare from UNC is getting a chilly response. UNC president Thomas Ross said in a statement selling Rex Healthcare would be damaging to its core mission and not in the best interest of the people of North Carolina. He went on to say UNC Health Care's board of directors will discuss the proposal on Monday. WakeMed President and CEO Bill Atkinson says there are number of uncertainties over health care in Wake County.

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