Health and Medicine | WGLT

Health and Medicine

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.  

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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.

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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
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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 St. Joseph Medical Center
OSF Healthcare / 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
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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.

NIU Joins Mumps Plagued Campuses

Oct 2, 2015

County health officials have confirmed that a Northern Illinois University student has mumps. University officials say they're working with the DeKalb County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide more community information. Illinois' outbreak has centered on the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus, where more than 100 cases have been confirmed. Two cases were confirmed last month at Eastern Illinois University.  Nearly 30 have popped up at various schools in Bloomington Normal.

Flickr user Dominic Simpson via Creative Commons

The typical patient seeking to use medical marijuana in Illinois is an older woman in Cook County with either severe fibromyalgia or cancer. That's the picture revealed Thursday in a new report to the Legislature from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

An advertising campaign aimed at potential medical marijuana patients is drawning scrutiny from Illinois regulators. Chicago-based Cresco Labs announced the campaign Wednesday, a month after the state said just 3,000 patients have been granted medical marijuana cards. That's far fewer than industry investors hoped. Cresco plans advertising in print and on radio, social media and billboards. The company holds permits for cultivation facilities in Joliet, Kankakee and Lincoln. Illinois Department of Agriculture regulations prohibit cultivation centers from marketing products to the public.

A recent agreement means that -- despite the budget impasse -- Illinois WILL fund services for babies with disabilities. But as IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports, therapists and children who rallied at the Statehouse today say their worries aren't over.


An Iowa-based telepharmacy company is opening a location in the northern Illinois village of Mount Morris and is in talks with other communities. The privately owned TelePharm has an off-site pharmacist inspect and verify prescriptions, which on-site technicians dispense. Customers order in person or online and then pick up prescriptions. Customers also can speak with the off-site pharmacists. TelePharm representative Greg Janes says the company is talking with officials in Ashton in Lee county and Erie in Whiteside County.

Elgin Schools Evacuate After Legionella Found

Sep 23, 2015

Officials in Elgin say about 2,900 students were evacuated after higher-than-normal levels of Legionella bacteria were found in cooling towers at three schools. School District U-46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus says the levels were found during annual air quality testing of the schools' cooling towers. She says no students were ill. Students were dismissed home or taken to Bartlett High school or Elgin High School to be picked up by parents.

The latest cluster of mumps cases in Mclean County is at Heartland Community College in Normal. Cathy Coverston-Anderson is Assistant Director at the Heath Department.  She says four cases have been confirmed, and there will likely be more.

There is a 12 to 25 day incubation period. So, the cases we see now were infected two weeks ago. Because of that long incubation period we expect to see some more."

"With mumps you are infectious two days before you start to show symptoms."

Home Medicaid Providers Win In Court

Sep 16, 2015

A federal judge has ordered the State of Illinois to fund Medicaid services for seniors living at home rather than at a nursing facility during the budget impasse. Cindy Cunningham is with two providers who asked the court to force payments. She says the order will help caretakers who have taken out personal loans to keep their companies afloat.

"We have been without payments since July. Our houses are on the line. Our businesses are on the line."

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