Health and Medicine | WGLT

Health and Medicine

Ben Seidelman / Flickr

The legal age to smoke in Illinois would increase from 18 to 21 under legislation introduced in Springfield.

Ginnie Flynn, with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, doesn't smoke now. But she did when she was younger. She says cigarettes were easily accessible from a convenience store near her college dorm.

Jim Browne / WGLT

The City of Bloomington says its Lincoln Leisure center on the near west side will reopen Wednesday evening. The center housing a variety of community and recreational programs was closed last month for asbestos abatement when friable asbestos was found in the furnace room. Ideal Environmental Engineering says it has finished the job and done air tests showing asbestos levels below OSHA thresholds.


Congressman Davis Pushes Access Bill

Feb 5, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

Illinois Republican congressman Rodney Davis is pushing a bill that he says will provide a more open market for things like corrective lenses. During a tour of Identity Optical in Normal, Davis says the bill would allow companies like Identity Optical compete in markets where health care industries limit patient choice.

Illinois Department of Public Health

There is not yet a lot of demand for medical marijuana in central Illinois.

Anyone under 18 caught "vaping" could have to do community service, or pay a fine. Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, says she doesn't consider them safe. Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people puffing on e-cigs. "They were openly and blatantly using these product publicly because there was no reason they shouldn't," she said.

U.S. Dept of Agriculture / Flickr via Creative Commons

A man who traveled to South America has developed the third case of Zika virus in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health previously reported two pregnant women tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus after traveling in Honduras and Haiti. The department announced the third Illinois case on its website Thursday. Most people exposed to the virus suffer only mild symptoms, but the risk is far greater for pregnant women because of a possible link to a birth defect.

Bread on a floor
McLean County Health Department

Bloomington-Normal is ranked 80th in the U.S. by Nielsen as one of the best places in the country to open a restaurant, in part because of disposable income and our proclivity to dine out. According to Nielsen, Bloomington is also ranked 9th in sales per restaurant, with establishments raking in nearly 1.2 million dollars on average. The nearly 400 restaurants in Bloomington-Normal, in addition to those in other McLean County communities are inspected twice or more per year by the McLean County Health Department and now those inspections are online.

Jim Browne / WGLT

The asbestos that was discovered in Bloomington's Lincoln Leisure Center a week ago has been taken out of the building. The city says Ideal Environmental took the material from near the building's furnace. A full evaluation of the building will also be presented to the city. Last week the center, which houses activities ranging from dance, music therapy, and art, was closed when staff discovered the potentially cancer causing asbestos. No date has been set to re-open the facility on South Lee Street, and most of the programs centered there have been moved elsewhere.

Shardayyy / Wikimedia Commons

Sugar can cause numerous health problems. Earlier this month, the government  cut the recommended daily amount about by half. Community Cancer Center dietitian Mary Kay Holloway joined Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas to talk about the health ramifications of too much sugar and how to reduce sugar. In this interview except  Holloway says there is lot of food to think twice about before consuming.

Dept on Aging Gets New Director

Jan 20, 2016
Jonathon Banks / Red Cross of Great Britain

The incoming director of the Illinois Department on Aging says her immediate goal will be to help older residents of the state live at home as long as possible. Jean Bohnhoff has been striving to do just that as director of the committee on aging for Effingham city and county in southern Illinois. Bohnhoff is from the rural village of Dieterich, just southeast of Effingham. She begins her new position in Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration February first, and calls it the ``opportunity of a lifetime.''

Two Illinois Women Have Zika Virus

Jan 19, 2016

Two pregnant women from Illinois have tested positive for the Zika virus after traveling in Honduras and Haiti. The Illinois Department of Public Health says doctors are monitoring the women's health and their pregnancies. The virus is spread through mosquito bites and there's no risk of person-to-person spread. Outbreaks have been reported in parts of the Caribbean and Latin America. In Brazil, there's evidence linking the infection to a serious birth defect in which the brain and head are smaller than normal.

Pain Meds Under Review

Jan 19, 2016
Holger Ellgaard / Flickr

The pain control pendulum is swinging the other way, according to an internationally know expert on pain.

Opioid Dependence Is Killing Americans

Jan 19, 2016
Eric Newman / Flickr

The U.S. is currently in the grips of a heroin epidemic and your doctor may be to blame. Heroin is made from the opium poppy, and opioid drugs make life bearable for those having dental work, surgery, or suffering from chronic pain.  However, the drugs are addictive and can send users looking for cheaper alternatives like heroin. New prescription guidelines being developed in part by a Bloomington doctor are being put on hold while a political, medical, and ethical battle rages.  WGLT's Jim Browne reports.

With January comes resolutions to lose weight, new diets, and lots of advice. Earlier this month, the U.S. government issued its own advice. Limit sugar intake.  The guidelines, updated every 5 years, are based on evolving nutrition science and serve as the government's official advice on what to eat. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talks with Community Cancer Center dietitian Mary Kay Holloway about the effects of sugar and how to reduce intake.

Eureka Hospital Bucks Trend, Expands

Jan 13, 2016

While hospital in many small communities are closing, or cutting back on services, the Advocate Eureka hospital is opening a 28,000 square foot addition. Administrator Ana Labile says it'll house 11 new private patient rooms, and new operating rooms. She says they've had good outcomes with their current O.R.'s but are looking forward to the new ones.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has named an insurance company executive to lead Get Covered Illinois, the state's health insurance marketplace. The Illinois Department of Insurance says Karen Woods will fill the post. Woods previously worked as executive director of Blue Cross Blue Shield's retail claim operation. She succeeds Karin Zosel who left in early August to return to MacMurray College in Jacksonville where she worked before the Republican appointed her.

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal has received a four million dollar surprise. That's the amount an 83 year old man had left for the hospital when he died last April. Kenneth W. Smith was a longtime resident of Normal, though he had never given to Bromenn before.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis is drawing attention to suicides in the community. Davis says 20 people have taken their lives so far this year, with a recent cluster of four. She also says particularly for the young, suicide tends to be an impulsive act that happens within ten minutes of the idea occurring to someone. Davis says this raises the importance of family and friends paying attention and reacting with empathy and compassion.

University of Illinois has formed a committee to build the core curriculum of its new engineering-based medical school at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The university has announced the committee will be led by co-chairs Dr. Robert Good and Professor Rashid Bashir. Good is the senior associate medical director of population health at Carle Health System. Bashir heads the department of bioengineering at University of Illinois.  

Michael Havens / Creative Commons

Less than a week remains for Illinois consumers to buy private health insurance for coverage starting January 1 on the marketplace created by President Barack Obama's health care law. Tuesday December 8th is an important enrollment deadline. Consumers who want their coverage to start at the first of the year need to choose a health plan by that date. Earlier this week, US Senator Dick Durbin joined other officials in urging uninsured Illinois residents to enroll and others who buy marketplace coverage to re-enroll. Enrollment runs through the end of January.

Chipotle E Coli Colonizes Illinois

Dec 4, 2015

An outbreak of E. coli linked to Chipotle restaurants has spread to Illinois and two other states. The list of those sickened is seven people longer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a total of 52 cases have now been reported in nine states. Chipotle today announced it was tightening its food safety standard. Of the 52 people infected, the CDC says 47 reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before the illness started. The agency has not yet determined the ingredient responsible.

Atari, Gracinha & Marco / Flickr via Creative Commons

A recent report from the World Health Organization correlates processed meats with an increased cancer risk and places the meat in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. The WHO also categorized red meat as a probable carcinogen. There are reasons other than reducing cancer risk to cut back on meat and a variety ways to reduce red and processed meat.

Pano38 / Creative Commons

After two incidents last week in which potentially deadly accumulations of carbon monoxide built up in homes, the Normal Fire Department wants to make sure everyone invests in a device built to detect the deadly odorless gas. Matt Swaney of the Normal Fire Department says both situations were close calls.

James Yolkowski / Wikipedia

Within a four county region that includes McLean, Livingston, Ford and DeWitt counties, Life Centers for Independent Living helps thousands of people with disabilities obtain work and live on their own. LIFE CIL, as it's often called, recently signed an agreement with Connect Transit to help screen riders with disabilities to help determine the best transportation option. On Thursday (11/19), LIFE CIL celebrates 30 years of community service. The celebration coincides with the 25th anniversary of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. GLT's Judy Valente takes a look back -- and forward -- with LIFE CIL's executive director Gail Kear.

Police Eye Medical Marijuana Impaired Driving

Nov 16, 2015
Goodnightlondon / Creative Commons

Medical Marijuana's been available for patients with certain diseases and ailments for one week in Illinois.

Illinois' new medical marijuana shops sold nearly $211,000 worth of cannabis in the first week, with less than a quarter of eligible patients buying so far.  

The state's first regulated marijuana dispensaries opened Monday. Program director Joseph Wright said Friday the dispensaries served 806 customers. They purchased about 460 ounces of marijuana, or about a half an ounce per person, on average.  

Green Thumb Industries CEO Ben Kovler says the numbers are "a very strong start." 

The Director of the McLean County Health Department is trying to reassure County Board members that funding for drug court will not be jeopardized next budget year. Last week the department agreed to fund drug court at the same level as last year. Now the health board has approved spending less direct money than was talked about earlier. Health Department Director Walt Howe says the difference is that they want service provider Chestnut Health Systems to try billing Medicaid for the service first and then asking the county for payment.

OSF Healthcare

OSF Healthcare is raising the lowest wage it is paying workers to $10 an hour. That's $1.75 per hour higher than the minimum wage in Illinois. Kristin Williams is the OSF's Vice President for Compensation and Benefits. Williams says the move stems from the religious organization's social justice values.

She says the federal poverty line for full time workers with families was one of the guides used to establish the new minimum.

Governor Bruce Rauner has cut back on institutional care available to seniors.  The Republican used an amendatory veto Friday to reduce the cost of the measure aimed at protecting people who get institutional or at-home care while officials develop a new way of measuring need. Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris sponsored the plan. He says it ensures people getting assistance now won't get cut off by a new assessment process.  

Pike County Apple Cider Sickens Dozens

Nov 6, 2015
Public Domain / Creative Commons

Health officials in two western Illinois counties are investigating an illness affecting people who drank apple cider during a recent fall festival. The health departments of Pike and Adams county say more than 60 people who attended the Pike County Color Drive have similar gastrointestinal symptoms. Several have been hospitalized. Officials say the suspect apple cider could be tainted with E. coli bacteria or a microscopic parasite called cryptosporidium. The Illinois Department of Public Health is assisting with the investigation. The fall festival was held Oct.