Health

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?

A look at some of the Apple Health apps that are part of the HealthKit bundle.
Apple.com

Duke University Hospital is testing a new Apple product called HealthKit. The feature was announced as part of Apple's new operating system last week.

It allows users to share personal health data, like blood pressure or workout times, between apps. The trial with Duke University is an attempt to connect that personal health data with the hospital's records system.

A picture of sweet potatoes.
Llez / Wikipedia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving millions of dollars to North Carolina State University to research sweet potatoes.  The grant is aimed at developing new breeding tools to improve crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Yencho heads the university's sweet potato breeding program and is the project director.  He said sweet potatoes already feed millions of people in the region.

"It's a very hardy crop," said Yencho. "It can resist drought and heat very well.  It can be grown in a really wide range of soil types and it produces a lot of food per acre.”

Photo: Sign that says 'You Must Be 21 Years Old To Enter'
Flickr user Steve Mclaughlin

The North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is preparing an advertising campaign against underage drinking.

According to an ABC survey, up to 40 percent of children in North Carolina have consumed alcohol before they get to the ninth grade.

ABC Chairman Jim Gardner says part of the motivation behind the campaign is another, more stark, statistic.

Larry Hester, at the WUNC studios, September 2014.
Eric Mennel

Larry Hester lost his sight at age 33. Last week, 66-year-old Hester had a computer chip inserted into his left eyeball which may help him gain some ability to better navigate his life.

The six-hour surgery – the first in North Carolina – was performed by Dr. Paul Hahn at the Duke Eye Center. 

When the device is turned on, Hester will wear a pair of glasses rigged with a camera. The glasses will be attached by wire to a computerized device that Hester will wear on his belt. 

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

A Durham-based non-profit is starting a concentrated effort to slow the spread of Ebola in west Africa.  The group Africa Yes! says it's raising money and awareness for villages in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. 

The virus has killed more than 500 people in that country, which is second only to Liberia's death toll.  Africa Yes! co-founder Steve Cameron says the group is sending money for supplies to 19 small villages that have not yet been infected.

Doctors at Duke Hospital.
Duke Medecine

According to new report on the website BetterDoctor.com, Raleigh and Greensboro are among the top cities in the country facing a physician shortage. The data compares populations based on U.S. Census Data with the number of registered primary care doctors.

Khalil Bilar works in a laboratory at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Jeff TIberii

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem have made progress in their efforts to replicate human kidneys.

Regenerative medicine can sometimes sound futuristic, but doctors at Wake Forest are actually using kidneys from deceased pigs with the hope they could one day be transplanted into human patients. The concept is to let the original cells die off, then take human tissue to re-grow the organ in a lab.

Recently, doctors have developed a method to keep blood vessels open and allow blood to flow through these new regenerated organs.

About 200 people use services at the IRC (Interactive Resource Center) each weekday.
Flickr.com

Glimpses of poverty can be seen across North Carolina on a daily basis. From median strips to emergency rooms and school cafeterias to unemployment offices, no communities are immune.

In Greensboro many people in need use the Interactive Resource Center (IRC) for daily access to computers, showers, and a sense of community. More than 200 people visit the center each weekday.

"I went from $80,000 a year to, I'm lucky if I make $80 a month," says Earl Zayack, a slender man with brown hair and a salty goatee.

"So it was a huge, humbling experience for me."

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

The three-month open-enrollment period for federally subsidized health care starts in November. This year, federal funding to help people enroll in subsidized health insurance has dropped.

Sorien Schmidt works with the North Carolina chapter of Enroll America to connect people with navigator organizations. She says enrollment was a success last year, but there are still one million uninsured North Carolinians and others will need help to re-enroll.

Medicaid illustration: A Caduceus symbol and a dollar sign
Neff Conner / Flickr

North Carolina health officials say the state Medicaid program has a positive cash balance for the first time in years.

For years, the state health insurance for people who are poor or disabled has cost tax payers more than expected. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

But that wasn't the case last year. Aldona Wos, the state secretary for Health and Human Services, says the Medicaid budget was in the black.

A picture of Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal
StoryofAmerica.org

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neill says he's optimistic that the hospital in his town will reopen soon.

The non-profit Vidant Health closed the Pungo hospital there this summer, which served low-income and minority populations. 

Mayor O'Neill walked nearly 300 miles to Washington, D.C. to ask regulators to look into the closure.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to investigate whether Vidant's closing of the hospital has displayed unlawful discrimination based on race and national origin.

a map of Ebola deaths in Liberia, broken down by county.
www.EbolaInLiberia.org

From his office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Steven King has no illusions about his efforts on the Ebola front as compared to those on the ground. His role was made clear on  a recent conference call between him and his counterparts in the country.

The Politics Of Calling In Sick

Sep 2, 2014

Got the flu? Or a new baby? Perhaps a little one with chicken pox? In most countries, your employer must pay your wages if you stay home sick or to care for others. Not in America.

But a growing grass-roots movement aims to change that — starting with paid sick leave.

Already the movement has met some success. This past weekend, California became the second state in the country to mandate sick leave for employees.

Tormod Sandtorv / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University suggest getting rid of homes for orphaned children will not lead to better child well-being.

The study followed children in low- to middle-income children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Tanzania. It looked at many factors in the children's lives including emotional trauma, growth, memory and the health of both the child and caregiver.

Kathryn Whetten is professor of public policy at Duke and directs the school's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research. 

North Carolina will be missing out on $51 billion from Mediciad because they chose not to expand coverage.
http://eofdreams.com/money.html

    

Lawmakers in North Carolina decided to not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. 

Jason deBruyn, Triangle Business Journal
Triangle Business Journal

  

The Affordable Care Act creates new policies to keep healthcare costs down. As revenue streams shift, healthcare systems look for new ways to make money.

And UNC Health care seeks to gain a share of the Medicare market in Wake County. Host Frank Stasio talks with Triangle Business Journal reporter Jason deBruyn about the changes and his latest reporting. 

A picture of senior citizens gardening.
Charles House Association

A Carrboro nonprofit is opening a second home for senior citizens who can't live on their own anymore.

The Charles House Association opened an eldercare home in Chapel Hill's Heritage Hills neighborhood in 2011. There, six residents share chores. They also pay the cost of the facility and the care giving staff.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.
Flickr.com

A state task force says rural communities need more strategic investments and partnerships to improve their residents' health. 

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine's Task Force on Rural Health released a report Monday about health disparities in rural counties. 

It says many of their childhood nutrition programs need more attention.  And local schools need more help to recruit health care professionals who will stay and work in rural North Carolina.

Chapel Hill Car Accident
Triplezero / Flikr

AAA Carolinas has labeled rural North Carolina the "killing grounds" for drivers in accidents.

More than 1,100 people died in traffic accidents in North Carolina last year, though the number is lower than in years prior. A new report from AAA Carolinas shows the continuing trend of fewer fatalities on the road since 2010. The number is dropping, but slowly.

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