Health

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The outgoing Director of the Division of Children, Youth and Families says public scrutiny of her agency’s shortcomings could provide opportunities to improve the state’s child safety network.

Ajay Suresh / flickr/cc

Evidence is growing that certain medicines can ease cravings for drugs and alcohol and improve people's lives. And the medical community, backed by substantial federal funding, is promoting these drugs, calling them life-savers in many cases. But there are skeptics: Some who feel this approach merely replaces one addiction for another and others who fear this is just another profit-making venture of so-called "big pharma."


Jack Rodolico

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester is your typical general hospital: they deliver babies, set broken bones, perform heart surgery. And it might be as good a place as any to witness how the opioid epidemic is transforming healthcare in New Hampshire.

For over a year, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has been trying to determine whether drug makers break the law in how they marketed opioid painkillers in the state. It’s a slow legal battle that could determine that pharmaceutical companies knew they were putting people at risk by overselling highly addictive painkillers. Many of those painkillers were abused – leading to an addiction and overdose epidemic.

There’s been a new development in that story, and NHPR’s Jack Rodolico sat down with Morning Edition to talk about it.

Health officials say New Hampshire has reported a high number of gonorrhea cases for last year, at 465.

The average in the past was about 130 cases per year, going back to 2007.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said Thursday that New Hampshire historically has had one of the lowest rates of the sexually transmitted disease in the country. He said health officials are working to identify people who may have been exposed to gonorrhea to connect them with testing and treatment.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers are close to approving a federal grant to help the state Medical Examiners Office deal with a backlog of autopsies, mostly due to drug overdose deaths. 

Jack Rodolico

Starting October 30, Andrew Dixon spent 13 days in the emergency room at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. And as his father, John Dixon, describes that time, you might think Andrew had committed a crime. 

NHPR

The state of New Hampshire could find itself back in court this year if it doesn’t comply with a class-action settlement aimed at rebuilding the state’s damaged mental health system. 

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Massachusetts' largest healthcare network has taken its first step into the New Hampshire health market by purchasing Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. 

Wentworth-Douglass in Dover and Mass. General Hospital in Boston have been clinical partners since 2008, and both say the acquisition will give the New Hampshire hospital access to more specialized doctors.

Pexels

Pharmaceutical executives have been in the hot seat, recently facing Congressional outrage over the cost of life-saving drugs, and President-elect Donald Trump has promised action. What is behind these price tags? And if government intervened to lower them, would there be un-intended consequences?


Thomas Fearon

Governor Maggie Hassan says a cyber-security consultant will evaluate the Department of Health and Human Services’ computer network following a data breach that compromised personal information for as many as 15,000 DHHS clients.

A bill in the New Hampshire legislature could make it legal to hospitalize someone against their will because of a drug addiction. The bill would amend the state law that allows authorities to involuntarily commit people suffering from a serious mental illness who pose a threat to themselves.

Republic Senator Jeb Bradley says he proposed the bill after he spoke with the family of someone who died of an overdose.

Prescription Drug Costs Still Rising in New Hampshire

Dec 20, 2016
Jamie/Flickr

Prescription drugs costs are climbing faster than most other categories of health spending in New Hampshire, according to a new report by the state insurance department.

Jack Rodolico

With snow and sub-zero temperatures projected across New Hampshire for the next few nights, the city of Concord is still without a winter shelter for its homeless residents. The shelter is slated to open soon, but not by Thursday night, when the temperature is expected to plummet. 

The governor’s task force investigating cancer clusters on the Seacoast issued a set of recommendations Wednesday.

The task force was charged with investigating potential causes for unusually high rates of two cancers among children living in a region of the Seacoast.

Today the task force issued a set of recommendations, including one to extend municipal water to homes near the Coakley Landfill – a superfund site that was investigated as a potential cause of the high cancer rates.

Stefany Shaheen is a member of the task force.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

The federal government released data today on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire.

The big picture is the uninsured rate in New Hampshire is down 43 percent since before the law went into effect. That means 63,000 people have gained coverage in the state through the Affordable Care Act.

About two-thirds of the newly insured bought coverage through Healthcare.gov, and the rest have signed up for the state's expanded Medicaid program, which provides insurance for low-income people.

Vaping360.com

A report from the U.S. Surgeon General is prompting health officials in New Hampshire to warn the public of the dangers of youth using e-cigarettes, also known as vaping.

The U.S. Surgeon General describes e-cigarette use as a major public health concern for youth and young adults. Over five years, e-cig use jumped 900 percent among high school students nationally, surpassing cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

PEXELS

The federal government says more than 10,000 Granite Staters signed up for insurance on Healthcare.gov in the first four weeks of open enrollment.

A total of 10,554 New Hampshire residents signed up for health insurance during open enrollment between November 1 and November 26, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over that same period, more than 2.1 million across 39 states have bought coverage on the federal website. A quarter of those are new enrollees, while the rest were renewing their coverage. 

Getty Images

The Senate is scheduled to take up a bill next week that would send $1 billion to states battling the opioid addiction crisis.

The federal dollars would be divvied up among states based on per-capita drug overdoses. By that measure, New Hampshire ranks third nationally.

The funding would help strengthen the state's growing but still inadequate network of services, including prevention, early detox, long-term housing and mental health treatment, says Tym Rourke, Chair of the Governor's Commission on Substance Abuse.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, last year New Hampshire hospitals had 64 so-called adverse events - preventable accidents that harm patients.

The New Hampshire Attorney General has given a positive review to one aspect of the proposed acquisition of Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover by the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Because of Wentworth Douglass’ charitable work in the Dover area, the proposed acquisition was subject to a review by the state Attorney General’s office.

New Hampshire is joining 40 other states in a lawsuit against the maker of Suboxone, a drug widely promoted to help opioid addicts.

The federal government has said no to New Hampshire's attempt to make Medicaid recipients prove they're working, or a so-called work requirement.

When the state legislature re-authorized expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2015, there was a catch: Republicans pushed for a rule that would require Medicaid recipients to prove they were employed or looking for work, a measure that needed federal approval.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

The state's top health official wants to know if layoffs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock will affect care at the state psychiatric hospital.

In a letter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO Dr. James Weinstein, Health Commissioner Jeff Meyers asks if psychiatric staff will be among the 84 layoffs from across the healthcare system. The letter comes as Dartmouth-Hitchcock's relationship with the state is under a lot of scrutiny. 

N.H.'s Efforts to Improve Mental Health System Stymied by Low Pay, High Stress, and Licensing Logjams.

Five positions filled, about 15 more to go, before Manchester gets its mobile mental health unit up and running. Meanwhile, the July deadline for doing so has come and gone.

Jessica Lachance, the unit’s director, admits it’s been a struggle to attract applicants. And Manchester is far from alone in this dilemma.  

Jason Moon for NHPR

The Governor’s task force on the Seacoast cancer cluster investigation continues to look for what might have caused a string of rare cancer cases in children on the Seacoast.

Yesterday’s meeting at the Portsmouth City Hall focused largely on the Schiller Station power plant, which has been suggested as a potential environmental cause for the cancer cluster.

Government of Alberta via Flickr/CC

Public Health officials say the flu has arrived in New Hampshire and will be here through April or May.

Every year, scientists create a new flu vaccine to try to outwit the highly mutable influenza virus.   

Thomas Fearon

The chief medical officer at New Hampshire Hospital is planning to step down at the beginning of 2017, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers announced Monday afternoon.

Jack Rodolico

Just as the school year began, the Manchester School District announced there was lead in the drinking water at some of its schools.

That contamination is now cleaned up. But in the aftermath of Flint, Michigan’s massive drinking water crisis, this small scare in Manchester highlights a concern among New Hampshire’s public health officials: there is no comprehensive lead testing done on drinking water in schools across the state.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is responding to a firestorm of criticism over its announcement to lay off between 270 and 460 employees by the end of this year.

The hospital broke the news just two days after accepting a $35.5 million contract from the state. Some say Dartmouth-Hitchcock should have disclosed the layoffs before accepting the contract. 

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