Health

Linwood Watson, MD, Rex Express Care of Knightdale
Still from Youtube video

Several area doctors star in a new video that is getting some buzz online. The video aims to answer the question of when it's appropriate to go to urgent care, and when one should head to the emergency room:

The video features doctors from Rex Express Care in Knightdale, Holly Springs, Wakefield and Cary.

A picture of a syringe.
Zaldylmg / Creative Commons

Nurses gathered outside the VA Hospital in Durham Wednesday to raise awareness about the risk Ebola poses to healthcare workers. It was part of an international effort, urging hospitals to adopt the highest preparedness standards for staff who might potentially treat a patient with Ebola. 

Image of tools in doctor's office
Morgan / Flickr/Creative Commons

State health officials and an advisory board have released a six-year plan to help fight cancer in North Carolina. The plan identifies six specific cancers that are prevalent in the state and recommends specific strategies to fight them.

Dr. Ruth Petersen is with the Department of Health and Human Services. She notes lung cancer is one of the diseases identified in the report. Petersen says causes include exposure to smoke, secondhand smoke, or radon gas.

  

Much of what we know about autism is publicly disputed, from the definition of autism itself to the reasons behind the increase in diagnoses. 

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

State health officials say a patient at Duke University Hospital who so far has tested negative for the Ebola virus has posed no risk to the general public.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos and others held a call-in news conference Monday afternoon to talk about the patient, who arrived in the U.S. from Liberia on Saturday.

The patient, who remains anonymous, is currently in an isolation ward at Duke, after reporting a fever while traveling by bus to North Carolina from New Jersey.

A picture of a stethoscope.
jasleen_kaur / Flickr/Creative Commons

Health care organizations in North Carolina are expanding an initiative to see how doctors and pharmacists cooperate to streamline patient care.

Community Care of North Carolina has already set up a program in which 3,000 GlaxoSmithKline employees see doctors who coordinate all their treatment.

But CCNC President Doctor Allen Dobson says that primary care physicians don't always know all the medications a patient is taking, especially if they're seeing other specialists for multiple conditions.

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt and leaders at UNC Health Care are prohibiting student travel to Ebola-stricken nations.  University faculty and staff must have approval before traveling to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

New York and New Jersey are requiring people returning from Ebola-affected areas of Africa to stay in quarantine for three weeks. That's the incubation period for the disease. 

But North Carolina does not have such a mandate.

This week, Health Secretary Aldona Wos outlined the state's protocols for people returning from West Africa.

Image of tools in doctor's office
Morgan / Flickr/Creative Commons

State health secretary Aldona Wos says North Carolina would likely need to change some of its Medicaid rules to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. 

The health care law offered to pay for expanded Medicaid through 2016, but North Carolina was one of 24 states that rejected the expansion last year.  Gov. Pat McCrory said the state's Medicaid program was broken, and was not confident the federal government would cover the costs. 

But Wos says Medicaid is now more stable, and she plans to present the governor with options for expanding Medicaid. 

Aldona Vos, DHHS
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

    

North Carolina’s Medicaid program covers 1.7 million people at a cost of $14 billion per year.

The program for low-income and disabled residents has had a turbulent past. Last year, computer glitches created a long backlog of applications and payments for providers. And Medicaid has been a question mark in the budget, causing cost overruns for several years.

But health officials say the system is improving enough that the state could reconsider expanding Medicaid to half a million people who do not have health insurance.

Eric Mennel

A month ago Larry Hester became the first person in North Carolina to receive a bionic eye.  Blind since the age of 30, Hester, who has been treated at the Duke Eye Center, is now learning how to see again.  And it isn't that easy.

The device that Hester is wearing is not just as simple as flipping on a switch.  He is now learning how to differentiate shapes and colors and going through physical therapy sessions which are rather reminiscent of someone who has just received a new knee, not eye.

A picture of a screaming child.
Mindaugas Danys / Creative Commons

Holly Hill Hospital is hosting the grand opening of a new children's campus today. The hospital says it's working to meet a growing need for inpatient psychiatric beds that has left many in the community waiting in emergency rooms for behavioral health treatment.

North Carolina's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness supports the creation of the facility. But the group's president, Mike Mayer, says the state has a long way to go.

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

North Carolina health and safety officials are building a united front to prepare against the Ebola virus.

State Health and Human Services secretary Aldona Wos announced at a press conference yesterday that the Centers for Disease Control has named North Carolina's State Laboratory of Public Health to be a regional hub to test potential Ebola specimens.

A nurse from Charlotte has written an open letter to Nina Pham. Pham is the Dallas nurse who was stricken with Ebola after caring for a critically ill patient. "We know how tedious and difficult it is to put and take off on full protective gear over and over again. We know how hot, sweaty and unbearable it gets. .. We know what it’s like standing beside someone for hours at a time, knowing that life is slowly leaving his or her body. We know how much that hurts mentally, physically, and emotionally." Read the letter and listen to an interview on Here & Now:

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

Some Chapel Hill librarians are joining in the effort  to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. A non-profit group called WiderNet is making information available to those without Internet access.

WiderNet's project director, Cliff Missen, says only two percent of people in Liberia and Sierra Leone have an Internet connection -- that includes health care workers.

"What we do is something completely different," says Missen. 

A picture of children getting off a school bus.
woodley wonderworks / Flickr

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is on the lookout for motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus. The week-long enforcement campaign is called Operation Stop Arm.

Lieutenant Jeff Gordon says the initiative is part of National School Bus Safety week, but that it's especially appropriate considering recent accidents involving school children.

In the past month, four children have been hit by cars at their bus stops in Wilson and Wake Counties. One of those children died.

Ebola in Guinea.
flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/13717624625/

It started with a whisper. 

As a society, we don't pay much attention to nutrition information when we eat out.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimates just 8 percent of Americans use nutritional information when deciding what to order.

But that could change soon.

A picture of a man taking cover under his desk.
Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation / shakeout.goct.nz

Earthquakes are rare in North Carolina, but they happen. So the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is asking businesses and schools across the state to practice earthquake drills today.

The effort is part of the Great Southeast ShakeOut.

Spokeswoman Julia Jarema says there have already been four small quakes in the North Carolina this year. And we're not insulated from seismic activity in other parts of the region.

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

  Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to be a topic of discussion on the North Carolina campaign trails. 

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

State government leaders say North Carolina is well on the way to being prepared if an Ebola case is diagnosed within our borders.  A state epidemiologist says steps to isolate a contagious and potentially deadly case can be put in place without an emergency order from the governor.   Those actions can include quarantines of people and buildings.  

State DHHS secretary Aldona Wos says the appearance of the disease in this country is prompting many states to respond.

Heroin syringe
Thomas Martinsen / Flickr/Creative Commons

"A heroin high .. I ain't going to lie - it's amazing .. you feel like you're Superwoman." 

Wonder why it's hard for some to leave heroin behind? Listen to Jennifer Harris and Brandi Martinez. Both live in High Point, N.C. and both have been clean for two years. (Jennifer talks first.)

Ebola Sign
Leoneda Inge

The first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States and the first death, has raised awareness of the deadly disease from California to the Carolinas.

Hospitals and health professionals are especially on alert.  The state Department of Health and Human Services has been working closely with health care providers since the summer, to prepare for the possibility of an Ebola patient being diagnosed here.

A picture of an elderly person's hand with an I.V. tube taped to it.
Tim Samoff / Flickr

Two Triangle hospitals will lose a portion of their Medicare reimbursements this year. They're being penalized for re-admitting too many patients within a month of hospitalization.

Under the Affordable Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reduce payments to hospitals which re-admit a higher number of patients than they're supposed to. They're looking at data between the summers of 2010 to 2013. Based on the number re-admissions, the CMS determines what percentage of Medicare reimbursement to withhold.

One addict talked about scoring methadone regularly at a Bible study.
Savio Sebastian / Flickr/Creative Commons

This is the third in a three-part series about the problem of heroin in North Carolina.  (Parts one and two are below.)

Heroin in NC Part Three: Bible Study

North Carolina is not immune to the nation's growing heroin problem. The number of overdose deaths in the state has quadrupled in just a few years. More people are seeking treatment.  In our final installment of the series, Jeff Tiberii reports on efforts to re-open a shuttered clinic in High Point.

Wake County commissioners heard from health officials today on the county's readiness should an Ebola case be diagnosed here.  The leaders cited several calls of concern they've received from residents after the disease was discovered in a hospital patient in Texas. 

Wake County health experts say they are working with hospitals, universities and airport authorities to ensure the earliest warnings are given should a case appear in North Carolina.  

Brent Myers is the medical director for Wake County EMS.  He says the county's efforts are being replicated across the state.

First responders in Guilford County have administered hundreds of doses of Naloxone, or NARCAN, this year. Heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise.
Jeff Tiberii

A new government study says deaths from heroin overdose in the United States doubled between 2010 and 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from 28 states. That upward trend is also taking place in North Carolina, where heroin deaths climbed from 38 to 183 between 2010 and 2013; representing an increase of 480%.  In response, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 20 last year.

Photo of Dr. Jeffrey Brantley
spiritualityandhealth.duke.edu

Everyone gets mad sometimes, but learning to control anger is a challenge for many people. 

A map of North Carolina Infant Mortality Rates 2009-2013
NCDHHS

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that infant mortality is at its lowest level in state history.

For the past two years, infant mortality rates had risen -- going from 7.0 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 7.4 in 2012. But last year, the numbers shot back down, returning to 2010 levels, the lowest in history.

A picture of cleaning chemicals.
Collin Anderson / Flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a chemical safety data summit in Research Triangle Park today and tomorrow. 

Unless a chemical is being used as a food additive, a drug, a pesticide or one of a few other specialized uses, EPA officials say there's not a significant amount of testing required. 

Russell Thomas is a director at the EPA.  He said there are hundreds of new chemicals introduced into the environment each year.

Today, the World Health Organization reported more than 2,900 people have died from Ebola in Western Africa. Amidst the growing epidemic, Nigeria has managed to escape much of the havoc.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country by far, with more than 170 million people. Yet there have been only 20 confirmed cases and eight confirmed deaths from Ebola since July.   How has the country escaped widespread infection?

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