New rule, broad outreach could increase vaccinations

BY COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — The percentage of parents who opt their children out of vaccinations in Michigan is more than three times the national average, but the numbers vary greatly depending on where you’re looking.

Waiver rates range from less than 1 percent in Branch County to nearly 20 percent in Cheboygan County. Michigan parents have a lot of leeway: The state is one of 20 that allows waivers not only for religious beliefs, but also on philosophical grounds.

Officials are hoping fewer parents will follow through on waiver requests under a rule that took effect this year requiring parents requesting a vaccination waiver to meet with a local health official before the waiver is granted.
Continue reading

Folks who eat fish tested, show high mercury levels

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING – Health authorities in Michigan are waiting for the results of tests for elevated levels of chemicals and metals in people who eat lots of Great Lakes fish.

Blood and urine from volunteers in Michigan and two other states were tested for PCBs, pesticides, mercury, lead and cadmium.

Each state focused on a community. Michigan tested anglers along the Detroit River and Saginaw Bay.
Continue reading

Train nurses for all crises, not just Ebola, experts say

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – The spread of Ebola to health care workers in the United States and the attack of enterovirus D68 among American children are drawing headlines, but nursing experts say both developments highlight the need for up-to-date training and preparation of nurses and hospitals for more than a single crisis.

The broader question is improving quality and safety for both nurses and patients., said Donald Wasserman, the communications manager at the Michigan Center for Nursing in Okemos. The nonprofit center is a health-promotion organization for nurses and other health care professionals they work with.

“One of our big initiatives is advancing nursing education and achieving a’ triple aim’ goal, Wasserman said: reduce health costs, improve the outcome for patients and enhance the health of “the community as a whole.”
Meanwhile, nursing programs across the state are incorporating the latest developments and treatments in what they teach their students.
Continue reading

Travelers head to Africa despite Ebola concerns

By RUTH KRUG

Capital News Service

LANSING — For Michigan State University students and Lansing-area immigrants from West Africa planning to travel there, the Ebola virus raises a similar reaction: stay healthy and hopeful.

With more than 3,400 deaths so far, the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak in West Africa a public health emergency of international concern. Hardest hit are Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, with other cases reported in Nigeria and Senegal.

How might the virus impact students who plan to study or research in Africa or community residents who plan to travel there?
Continue reading

Michigan rollout of low-income health care exceeds expectations

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – In only three weeks the state’s Medicaid expansion program that gives health coverage to low-income residents is almost halfway to its yearly signup goal.

The Healthy Michigan program started enrolling low-income residents for comprehensive health coverage on April 1. By April 21, nearly 140,000 people had signed up for the plan – 43 percent of the 320,000 people the state hoped would enroll by the end of the year.

Coverage under Healthy Michigan provides all services required by federal standards, such as emergency services, maternity care and mental health treatment.

Continue reading

Push on for more children’s health centers

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Community Health is pushing for a program that would expand health centers for poor children to also treat mental illness.

Department and child health center officials are pushing for a $2 million expansion of the program, which has been around for 25 years.

This expansion would create new health centers that offer individual and family counseling, screening for mental disorders and prevention services for suicide and bullying, according to department officials.

Continue reading

Fewer teens get pregnant except for those 10-14

By LACEE SHEPARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Teen pregnancies are on the decline in the state except among the youngest girls, a Department of Community Health (DCH) report shows.

The most recent report from 2012 shows that there was a slight increase from 2011 in pregnancies among those 10-14. After decades of steady decreases, the number increased from 94 to 105 reported teen pregnancies.

The reduction of other unintended pregnancies could be a result of the statewide goal to reduce infant mortality, said Angela Minicuci, the information director at DCH.

Continue reading

Rural hospitals face new uncertainties after health care reforms start

By DARCIE MORAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — With health care reform falling into place, rural Michigan hospitals can now breath a sigh of relief, and then start a new waiting game.

The slow recovery from the recession and the struggle for healthcare reform hit rural hospitals in Michigan, and across the country, hard, said Ethan Lipkind, CEO and president of Michigan Rural Healthcare Preservation and the Michigan Clinic.

The first week of April marked the close of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act and the effective date of Medicaid expansion in Michigan. And with the economy starting to rise out of recession, Michigan rural hospitals are waiting to see just what the changes will mean.

Continue reading

Your genes may be to blame for binge eating and obesity

By LACEE SHEPARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — A recent study of rats at Michigan State University could lead to identifying a genetic cause of binge eating.

An MSU psychologist gave two strains of rats – the Wistar and Sprague- Dawley rats – vanilla frosting for two weeks to see if they developed binge eating at different rates. Binge eating is an excessive consumption of food at one time. .

The result points to a genetic difference between the two strains that affects how likely they are to develop the eating disorder.

“We’ve never been able to find this specific gene in humans,” said Kelly Klump, an MSU psychology professor. “Now we’re looking at animals that are a lot less complex, genetically, as well as a lot less complex in terms of their environment.”

Continue reading

Bill would prohibit employers from asking about birth control

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Employers couldn’t discriminate against employees who use birth control or have had abortions under a new bill recently introduced by lawmakers.

“It is mainly to protect women from discrimination and questioning from employers on whether or not they use birth control or have had an abortion,” said Rep. Marcie Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, who is the primary sponsor of the bill.

The bill is pushed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It is really based on the recent controversy over employees who don’t want to cover birth control in their insurance plans,” said Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the group. “That gave rise towards companies acting discriminatory towards females that have taken birth control or who have had an abortion.”

Continue reading