Health

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.

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.

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