Publicizing vaccination rates helps parents, bill sponsor says

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Proposed legislation requiring school districts to publicize their vaccination rates will help parents make better health choices and might improve vaccination education, the bill’s sponsor said.

Introduced earlier this year, the bill package would require schools to post vaccination rates, which are already reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in school offices or on their websites.

State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, said his legislation would provide parents more information when picking a school for their child.
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State systems for tracking heroin deaths flawed, advocates say

NOTE — THIS IS PAIRED WITH ANOTHER STORY: Heroin problems outpace Michigan’s solutions

By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service

LANSING — Those in the fight against heroin and opioids say one of their biggest problems is the absence of up-to-the-minute information on drug cases.

A lack of official communication, outdated statistics and inconsistent reporting practices have slowed Michigan’s attempts to combat the continuing heroin and opioid problem, advocates say.

They call for better reporting and recordkeeping of heroin deaths, along with legislation to increase the availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
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Heroin problems outpace Michigan’s solutions

By CAITLIN McARTHUR
The Capital News Service

LANSING — As Michigan struggles to keep up with its growing heroin and opioid addictions, only one state intervention might be working.

Traverse City police in April were able to reverse an overdose using naloxone, a drug that can help restore breathing after a heroin or opioid overdose, said Pamela Lynch, consultant and therapist at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health in Traverse City.

This was possible because recent state laws allowed doctors to prescribe the drug to people who can administer it, such as police officers, and not just to those who need it.
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Bill would repeal abortion insurance restriction

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service

LANSING — A controversial Michigan abortion law could be repealed if a Democrat-led measure succeeds in the state Senate.

The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act of 2013 requires women and employers to purchase an additional insurance rider — an add-on to their current plan — to be covered for abortions.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., the East Lansing Democrat who introduced the legislation earlier this year, said the law is an unfair burden on women.
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Health workers to be trained to spot human trafficking

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service

LANSING — Criminals who sell victims for sex or labor leave marks that are rarely noticeable to the average person, but doctors and nurses have a unique advantage to spot these red flags and intervene — if they are properly trained.

This training requirement, to spot and properly respond to patients who show signs of human trafficking, was implemented by Michigan legislation that took effect in January.

Under the new law, the state Department of Community Health, with a consulting board, will establish standards to train healthcare professionals in identifying and reporting human trafficking. Within two years, this training will be added to requirements for anyone licensed or registered under the public health code.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.

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