Health and Medicine | WGLT

Health and Medicine

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
AdvocateEureka

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.

Medical Marijuana Shipments Begin

Nov 6, 2015

Medical marijuana growers in Illinois have been notified by state officials that they can start shipping their products to dispensaries today for sale to patients early next week. Department of Agriculture instructions say marijuana can be transported only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Vehicles carrying it must be staffed by at least two cultivation center employees. Growers must enter product ID numbers into a digital statewide tracking system. A Florida-based company called BioTrack THC has the Illinois contract for tracking medical marijuana from seed to sale.

Graham Beard / Wikimedia Commons

Mumps have not subsided in Bloomington Normal. The McLean County Health Department has issued a notice that Normal Community High School is the site of the latest cluster of related mumps cases. Outbreaks were reported earlier at University High School, Normal West, BHS, Heartland Community College and ISU.

The health department says the latest total is 36 positive cases. There could be more because the time between exposure to the disease and the appearance of symptoms is between 12 and 25 days. And people with the virus can be infectious before they show symptoms.

Older people could be spending a greater chunk of their income on healthcare next year, based on a measure of inflation that depends on gas prices.

Since gas prices are low, most economists predict the federal government will not increase the cost of living adjustment, known as the COLA, for 2016. That means social security beneficiaries will continue to receive the same amount of money next year as they did this year.  

Illinois wants insurance companies in the small group market to submit changes to their small business policies as quickly as possible following a bipartisan adjustment to the nation's health care law. President Barack Obama signed legislation last week that gives states flexibility about whether to change the definition of ``small business'' under the law.  

In an Oct. 9 memo to insurers, the Illinois Department of Insurance says it will keep defining ``small'' as employers with 1 to 50 employees.  

No Medical Pot For Vets With PTSD

Oct 12, 2015
Flickr user Dominic Simpson via Creative Commons

The chair of Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board isn’t holding out a lot of hope for some conditions to be approved for treatment with the drug… even after endorsing them a second time.

Many Illinois nurses are nearing retirement. Baby Boomers in the state are also aging and may need more care. Will there be enough nurses to meet the demand?

At least sixteen of Illinois' 97 public health departments have laid off employees or cut back service hours,  and more are expected unless the state comes through with funding. It comes as flu season approaches, after regional outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease and the mumps, and after the state announced that it will no longer pay for testing S-T-D specimens --- meaning the local departments have to take on an additional cost.

An advisory board has voted to add chronic pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and three other pain conditions to the list of illnesses that can be treated by marijuana in Illinois. The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board made the recommendations Wednesday at a meeting in suburban Chicago.

Low-income, working parents are fighting to once again have help from the state for childcare. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

Since July, Illinois has drastically reduced who's eligible for the state's daycare assistance program. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made the change - he says to save money. For nearly two hours at a recent hearing in Springfield, daycare providers and parents -- like Chante Morrison -- pressed Rauner to cancel the rollbacks.

Morrison's a single mother of two girls from Galesburg.

NIH

  The head of a suburban Chicago school district that evacuated because Legionella was found says there is a lack of public health guidance for schools to help deal with the bacteria. Elgin Area School District CEO Tony Sanders says he didn't receive guidance from state or federal agencies on when it was safe to reopen schools and it ``was incredibly frustrating.'' The district evacuated and shut three schools for three days last month after high levels of Legionella were found in water cooling towers.

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