Super gonorrhea: bad bugs, no drugs


Capital News Service

LANSING—Health experts are bracing for a strain of gonorrhea resistant to all forms of antibiotic treatment, a threat potentially more daunting than HIV AIDS.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it is still too early to determine whether this strain has become widespread, Michigan communities are playing it safe.

“We’re not waiting until it becomes a problem to start talking about it,” said Meghan Swain, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.

The main focus of health departments’ efforts right now is prevention.

“I’m not aware of any recent spikes in gonorrhea,” said Kate Donaldson, public information officer for the Local Health Department for District 10, which serves Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana and Wexford counties.

“Educating the public and raising awareness among doctors is one approach adopted by local health departments and global institutions, such as the United Nations World Health Organization,” said Kara Schrader, doctor of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner for the College of Nursing at Michigan State University. Continue reading

Heroin’s spread in Michigan concerns health advocates


LANSING — Heroin and related drugs are spreading across Michigan and have become more deadly in recent years, some experts say.

Michigan-wide numbers of unintentional overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, according to a Department of Community Health (DCH) report. Meanwhile, the number of deaths due to other drugs such as cocaine has gone down, according the report.

Genesee, Macomb and Wayne Counties account for the highest recent heroin and opioid-related death rates, according to the DCH. But the problem is creeping into other areas: DCH data shows Antrim, Manistee, Clare, Hillsdale and Cass counties all recorded opioid-related overdose rates higher than the state average between 2009 and 2012.
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Michigan working to stop disability fraud at the front door

Capital News Service

Lansing — A new unit investigating disability fraud in Michigan projects that it has already saved taxpayers $700,000.

The Cooperative Disabilities Investigations Unit (CDI) is a joint organization of the Social Security Administration and the Michigan Department of Human Services formed last August. Michigan is one of 24 states that now has a branch of the organization since it was created nationally 17 years ago.

The Michigan branch has found 50 suspicious applications. Of those, 16 have been investigated further, 10 are still open and the six that have been denied that would have cost the taxpayer $700,000 over the next five years if they went unnoticed, said Bob Wheaton, acting manager of communications and public information officer for the Department of Human Services.
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Push on for more children’s health centers


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.

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Federal funds help expand dental care for children


Capital News Service

LANSING – Smiles in Michigan will soon be a little brighter – and healthier – thanks to a recent federal grant.

The Department of Community Health will use a $1.3 million grant to expand oral health programs in Mecosta and Genesee counties. The grant is from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

In Mecosta County, the funds will expand the SEAL! Michigan program that places hygiene students in elementary and middle schools to provide sealants and dental education.

Partnering schools include dental hygiene programs at Ferris State University and the University of Michigan.

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Higher insurance costs, weight loss programs loom for overweight workers


Capital News Service

LANSING – Obese Michigan employees can expect higher insurance premiums and thus more incentive to join weight loss programs when the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, is fully effective in 2014.

Department of Community Health public information officer Angela Minicuci said two-thirds of Michigan adults struggle with their weight. Of those, about 31 percent are obese.

Obesity is medically defined by body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese.
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Hepatitis is new focus of public health efforts


Capital News Service

LANSING – The state will use a new $1.6 million federal grant to better determine barriers to hepatitis screening, testing and treatment.

The grant was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

James K. Haveman, director of the Department of Community Health, said that it was the first time the state received federal funding for the surveillance of this prevalent disease.
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Lack of doctors plagues small Michigan communities


Capital News Service

LANSING – The state’s physician shortage has an adverse impact on smaller rural counties like Crawford and Roscommon while the demand for physicians nationwide remains high.

According to the Department of Community Health, more than 10 counties are categorized as health professional shortage areas, including Wexford, Gladwin and Crawford.

These areas have “significant need for additional primary health care resources,” according to the department.
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Racial disparities in infant deaths draw attention


Capital News Service

LANSING – While the infant mortality rate in Michigan is one of the highest in the nation, experts say the disparity in racial and ethnic groups is equally alarming.

“The clearest issue to us is the huge difference in the health disparity by racial and ethnic groups,” said Paulette Dunbar, the manager of the Maternal, Infant and Family Health section at the Department of Community Health.

Michigan infertility rates

According to the department, for every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, approximately five Caucasian and seven Hispanic babies die, compared to 14 African American babies who die before their first birthday. The state average is 7.1.
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Grant to aid fight against obesity


Capital News Service

LANSING – The state and higher education institutions are expanding a new model that bridges communications among health professions in the fight against obesity.

The Department of Community Health received a three-year, $1.5 million grant to build an innovative state model in inter-professional collaborative practice.

It is the first time that Grand Valley State University’s West Michigan Inter-professional Education Initiative Model will be put in a clinic setting since it become active in 2008.

It is also the first time that the model has been used outside West Michigan.

The model will be piloted in two urban nurse-managed primary care facilities at Grand Valley and Wayne State University, focusing on child and adult obese populations and affecting a minimum of 175 overweight or obese patients.

“Two universities both have health centers providing primary care for patients,” said Drew Murray, strategic operations manager for the council.

The universities are located in Detroit and the Grand Rapids area, where there is a high obesity rate.

The Children’s Health Access Program recently reported that among Kent County youth, 34.5 percent are overweight and 10.5 percent meet the criteria for obesity.

On the other hand, 25 percent of the Wayne State University Campus Health Center patients are overweight or obese. According to Community Health, 70 percent of Detroiters are obese or overweight.

“Our society has gotten horribly unhealthy,”said Kimberly Fenbert, a nursing professor at Grand Valley.

“Our obesity rate could increase by 60 percent in the next 20 years,” Fenbert continued.

“Michigan was one of the 10 most obese states in 2011, and this year we are in the top five.“You cannot imagine how fast it is growing.”

According to the 2012 Health Check Analyzing Trends in West Michigan, obesity is one of the most significant health concerns in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties.

“Obesity is a serious condition that is associated with potentially life-threatening diseases like diabetes, sleep problems, hypertension, heart disease and cancer,” Fenbert said.

Fenbert said obese patients always suffer from motivational problems, such as depression and low self-identity.

“When patients come into the office, we always need to give them encouragement education,” she said. “A person who is obese has to be willing to make a change, as a health care provider, we can give our patient information on healthy eating and information on healthy exercise.”

Obesity has such a big impact on a patient’s physical and mental health that better cooperation among health professions is needed, according to Fenbert.

“In this way, by decreasing obesity we will able to decrease those physical problems, and thus the cost of health care,” she said.

Anne Rosewarne, president of the Michigan Health Council in Okemos, said her organization is working with Community Health to deliver quality care centered on the needs of the whole patient.

And Brenda Pawl, director of special projects at Grand Valley’s Office of the Vice Provost for Health, said it’s important to educate future health care workers to communicate and cooperate.

Pawl said it is a great opportunity for nurse practitioners, social workers and dieticians to work together at the university’s health center.

She also said as health care continues to be more complex, a new model to deliver safe, accessible, patient-centered care is essential.

“Our money will primarily be used to develop more professional opportunities to develop those communications,” Pawl said. “Additional funding from Community Health and the local health agency will pay for research and enable the projects to take what we learn across the state.”

She said the two universities are working on academic and clinical research while the council, Michigan Area Health Education Center and Community Health are expanding the model to other pilot sites in other high-needs areas.

Murray said, “We can help the state government and its partners promote inter-professional activities beyond the two pilot sites and into more communities across the state.”

But according to Community Health, funding for that expansion is still underdeveloped.

Ann Sheehan, director of Grand Valley’s Family Health Center, said the program will use a nurse or social worker team to create individualized weight management programs for each enrolled patient.