Health

Brought to you in part by: Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Jack Rodolico

Shaghaf Mohammed has seen too much in her 11 years. Her family fled Iraq in 2013. And when they left, they never could have guessed the battle they’d face in their new home in Manchester. Shaghaf’s four-year-old sister, Aleel, is sick with lead poisoning.

Jack Rodolico for NHPR

A new state law aims to boost the number of children screened for lead poisoning. There's good reason New Hampshire is aiming for that goal.

Children aged 0-6 are the most likely to suffer permanent health and cognitive damage from lead exposure. Yet in 2013, New Hampshire tested a mere 16.5 percent of children in this age group for elevated blood lead levels. That's concerning because 62 percent of New Hampshire's houses were built before 1978 - the year the federal government cracked down on lead paint.

Thomas Fearon / NHPR

Last year, New Hampshire settled a class action lawsuit that alleged the state was violating the civil rights of people with mental illness. In the settlement, the state agreed to spend $30 million over four years to beef up services for those individuals.

Now, one year into the deal, a report from a court-appointed monitor says the state hasn’t yet hit the benchmarks it agreed to.

Bad news first

Thomas Fearon / NHPR

A new report finds New Hampshire is struggling to improve its mental health system, as it agreed to in a $30 million dollar lawsuit settlement. 

A court-appointed monitor finds, one year into the settlement, the state is lagging on nearly every benchmark. 

Jack Rodolico

The national death rate from knee replacement surgery is about one in a thousand. But patients are three times more likely to die if they have their knee replaced at a hospital that doesn’t perform that surgery frequently.

Now three leading healthcare systems, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock, are putting restrictions on their surgeons. 

Eric Fleming

One of New Hampshire’s largest landlords, Brady Sullivan Properties, is under scrutiny from city, state and federal regulators for lead contamination in one of its buildings in Manchester. 

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is telling employees it plans to close as early as August 1. This comes amid new reports of a sexual assault at the facility.

Flicker/M&R Glasgow

As of July 1, all babies born in New Hampshire will be screened for a rare genetic disorder.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder, or SCID, is often called “the bubble boy disease.” Trish Tilley with the Department of Health and Human Services explains why.  

"This is when babies just really can’t fight off any infection," says Tilley. "It’s a very rare, inherited disorder."

Liz West via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8DoUxw

More than one-third of New Hampshire children experience one of the most preventable childhood diseases: tooth decay.

Garrett Vonk

A recent study by the Foundation for Healthy Communities found frequent delays in hospital discharges for medically cleared patients in New Hampshire. Data collected from 21 acute care hospitals in the state revealed that over half of affected patients were over the age of 65. 

Jack Rodolico

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action against Brady Sullivan Properties because of lead contamination.

The order demands Brady Sullivan clean up a mixed commercial and luxury apartment building in Manchester by July 15, and lays the groundwork for EPA to potentially fine or sue the landlord.

In May, Brady Sullivan hired a contractor to do sandblasting in Mill West, a converted mill. The contractor didn’t have the proper permits, and spread lead dust into more than three-quarters of the apartments above.

Jack Rodolico

As the next state budget takes shape, Gov. Maggie Hassan and legislative leaders have been debating how to fund New Hampshire's mental health system. The state spends more than $100 million each year providing these services, and one word sums up the sentiment in the mental health community right now: uncertainty.

  Case in point, a construction site at New Hampshire Hospital.

Brady-Sullivan Properties

Twenty Manchester residents are suing one of New Hampshire’s largest landlords for lead contamination in their apartments.

The state has announced which companies will be allowed to move forward with plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

Last November, our newsroom got an email from a guy in Manchester who said he wanted to share his story of spice addiction. He said: “It was not long for the culture of Spice within the city to suck my soul into the black hole.”

Jack Rodolico

The state is giving a first look at insurance networks for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act.

Every hospital in the state will be covered by at least two of the insurance plans that will be sold on Healthcare.gov in 2016. There will also be an uptick in the total number of plans over this year.

Two of the smallest insurers on New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange are drafting big rate increases for plans they’ll offer in 2016.

To be clear, it’s just a draft. But Maine Community Health Options is considering raising premiums about 20 percent over this year, and Minuteman Health is in the 40 to 50 percent range.

Aaron P. Bernstein Getty Images

Anthem is partnering with Southern New Hampshire University to offer a free college education to all its employees.

Two years ago, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire started a pilot program with SNHU’s College for America, which helps working adults complete a bachelor’s or associates degree for $2,500 per year or less. Now Anthem New Hampshire’s parent company, which operates in 14 states, will expand the program to any employee working more than 20 hours per week.

Once again, tick season is upon us, and the risk of tick bites and tick-borne infection is high.

Originally created in 2014, we have updated the graphic below to represent the latest statistics we have on confirmed cases of Lyme disease.

Read through to learn more about the life cycle of ticks, how they move and hide, the infections they can carry, and how to prevent being infected yourself.

Jack Rodolico

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center will close its doors. This follows months of scrutiny after documented cases of abuse and neglect.

Lakeview CEO Chris Slover says if the state won’t allow the facility’s special education school to remain open, then he will not be able to keep the entire facility open – that includes an 88-bed treatment facility for people with brain injuries and other disabilities.

"I don’t have a choice. What they’re asking us to do is unrealistic," Slover says.

David Wilson/Imelda via Flickr CC

As with other health markers, N.H. consistently ranks high in measures of youth dental health and, overall, the state of children's teeth in New Hampshire is strong.

But in some of the state's least affluent areas, health outcomes are generally poor, and dental health is no exception. 

Jack Rodolico

You probably never would have guessed it, but one of the front lines of public health in New Hampshire is on the second floor of an elementary school in Claremont - in a storage closet. Here a dental hygienist meets with a second grade girl to talk teeth.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tick season is back, and so is another year of mostly preventable cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

While blacklegged ticks – also called deer ticks – will be active until the fall, from now until July is when the nymphs, or young ones, are most active. Nymphs are tiny and hard to find, which makes the risk to contract Lyme, babesiosis and anaplasmosis highest starting right now.

But more dangerous than the diseases themselves, says Alan Eaton, an entomologist with UNH, is the lack of public awareness about these illnesses.

 

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says there were 49 adult deaths related to the flu this season, the highest total since it began keeping track in 1999.

The Nashua Telegraph reports that the previous high total for flu-related deaths was 45 during the 2012-2103 season, but the numbers are inexact because the flu isn't an official reportable disease and different health care providers may use different standards for attributing deaths to the disease.

loveiswritten via Flickr Creative Commons

State officials say New Hampshire faces a critical shortage of foster families for a growing number of children.

About 1,000 kids will enter the public system this year, yet there are only 600 licensed foster homes, and many of those are not prepared to take in a child at this time.

Michelle Galligan with Child and Family Services in Manchester says the state is particularly struggling to find homes for sibling groups, sometimes with up to four children at a time. And the problem has gotten worse in recent years.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is appealing the state’s decision to revoke its special education license. The facility is currently under heavy scrutiny by state regulators for abuse and neglect of people with disabilities and brain injuries.

Lakeview has also hired a new executive director, who was formerly an employee for New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services. And Lakeview has hired a new director of special education as it appeals the state’s decision to revoke its license.

Jack Rodolico

Healthcare reform has brought lots of changes, but here’s what hasn’t changed: healthcare is still expensive, and the price tag is still rising.

Mark Galvin founded of a string of tech companies on the Seacoast. And he says one thing has dampened all their prospects: the crushing cost of healthcare.

"Every time I went to start a new company, it went from being kind of a nonissue, to a little bit of an issue, to a bigger issue, to a giant issue," says Galvin.

İHH İnsani Yardım via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/M8CkI

The Ebola crisis in three countries in West Africa is not over, but as the rate of infection drops public health officials are looking at what they’ve learned from the epidemic that killed thousands, so that they can be better prepared for the next outbreak.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

A study out of Dartmouth suggests New Hampshire is making good progress in the fight against prostate cancer.

New Hampshire doctors are increasingly doing what the medical community recommends: treating high-risk prostate cancer with surgery and radiation, but leaving low-risk cancer alone, and simply monitoring it.

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