Health

Brought to you in part by: Dartmouth-Hitchcock

The Comfort Food Conundrum

Mar 21, 2012

In gentile Savannah, Georgia, traditional southern food remains a somewhat sacred rite. That devotion has made Mrs. Wilkes dining room a place of worship. The former boarding house, now restaurant, offers a relaxed atmosphere and an   abundance of home-cooked pleasure.  But,as Emily Corwin reports for our Shifting the Balance series, the way the food is served can make the difference between over-indulgence, and a satisfying, healthy intake.  

Photo by Sam Warren via Wordpress

In rural towns, getting to school isn't always as easy as the walks I used to take in suburban Long Island. Small towns rely heavily on parents to give kids rides, and on kids taking lengthy bus rides...not exactly the healthiest option at a time when childhood obesity rates are climbing exponentially.

Mississippi, a deeply red Southern state that is part of the Supreme Court case against the health law, is moving full speed ahead with one of the key provisions of that law: an online health insurance exchange.

Unlike Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and other conservative states in the South, Mississippi is well on its way to having an insurance exchange ready for operation by the 2014 deadline laid out by the health overhaul law.

House Votes To Dismantle Certificate Of Need Board

Mar 14, 2012

The Certificate of Need Board approves new hospitals and expansions of existing medical centers in the state. Wednesday the house voted 166-140 to get rid of the board entirely. The House rejected an amendment which would have overhauled the existing board and phase it out over five years. The idea was to reconfigure the board with non-stakeholders, such as not allowing hospital representatives to serve.

Bacon has been called the gateway meat, luring vegetarians back to meat. And hot dogs are a staple at many a backyard BBQ.

But a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that daily consumption of red meat — particularly processed meat — may be riskier than carnivores realize.

Josh Rogers, NHPR

First Lady Michelle Obama brought her "Let's Move!'' health and fitness initiative to New Hampshire on Friday.

Mrs. Obama visited the Penacook Community Center, a neighborhood nonprofit group in Concord.

It has a child care center that helps children exercise before and after school and teaches them about healthy eating through the use of a garden.     

Mrs. Obama was joined by New Hampshire First Lady Susan Lynch, a pediatrician who has worked to increase awareness about childhood obesity.

It wasn't that long ago that money flowed steadily to entrepreneurs who dreamt up whiz-bang medical devices.

Hospitals souped up their surgical suites with robots or high-tech radiation machines for cancer treatment. Cost wasn't an issue: They just got passed along to insurance companies, who passed them on to employers and patients.

But after the Great Recession hit and the 2010 health law passed, the financiers behind the medical arms race started to rethink their investment calculus.

A bill which prevents the state from creating its own exchange passed overwhelmingly in the house on Thursday

Federal health officials Tuesday called on hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and doctors' offices to work harder to fight the spread of a dangerous bacterial infection that can cause life-threatening diarrhea and other complications.

While other health-care related infections have been decreasing in recent years, cases of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, continue rising, according to Clifford McDonald of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sheryl Rich-Kern

Out-of-hospital births in New Hampshire are on the rise, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.

That increase is in large part, because of a 2008 law that requires health insurers to pay for midwives who work in homes or at birthing centers.

But a new bill before lawmakers proposes repealing that mandate.

And midwives are worried what that means for their livelihoods.

Under the federal health care law, money is going out around the country to help school campuses boost health services for their students.

At Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles students often visit a modest trailer at the back of the sprawling campus. It's in a neighborhood near downtown L.A. where houses are missing windows and have peeling paint.

Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthy, or healthier.

That helps explain the increasing use of animals — dogs and cats mostly, but also birds, fish and even horses — in settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, jails and mental institutions.

Medicaid Grant Money To Help Home Based Services

Mar 2, 2012

New Hampshire will be the first state in the country to receive new Medicaid grant money to help seniors and people with disabilities remain in their homes.

The state will receive $26.5 million over three years through the Affordable Care Act.

The goal is to help states shift from institutional care to home and community-based services.

In 2009, 41 percent of New Hampshire’s Medicaid money was spent on community-based services.

That will increase to 47 percent in 2013 with the new grant money. 

The Senate has turned back an attempt to kill President Obama's new rules requiring most health insurance plans to provide contraceptives without additional cost.

The 51-48 vote against an amendment to an unrelated highway bill (Yes, that's just how the Senate works) was mostly along party lines.

A new study from researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that the more movies teenagers watch with images of alcohol, the more likely teens will start drinking. The study also found that an increase in movie watching was a major risk factor for teens who already drink to start binge drinking.

For decades, scientists have thought that one of the big differences between men and women is that men can make children all their lives because men never stop making sperm. But scientific dogma said women aren't so lucky when it comes to their eggs.

When a nerve is injured, it's often hard to get it to regrow fast enough to restore function.

But now researchers say they can speed up that process, so that damaged nerves can be healed in days instead of months — at least in rats.

The scientists say they've developed a technique that reconnects the severed ends of a nerve, allowing it to begin carrying messages again very quickly. Usually, severed nerves must regrow from the point of injury — a process that can take months, if it ever happens.

Obesity Infographics

Feb 24, 2012
Sara Plourde / NHPR

Click on the individual counties for statistics.

Losing weight can be a struggle; having a support system can go a long way toward helping you overcome hurdles and succeed at it. A number of weight loss web tools have sprung up in recent years to help you track your progress and find encouragement from others, so you can still find support – even if you can’t find a gym partner.

The Healthy Eating Plate created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult, and there are a number of guides available online that do the simplifying for you.

Specialty Hospitals Get A Favorable Vote

Feb 23, 2012

The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill allowing not just Cancer Specialty Hospitals but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. All other hospitals in the state must go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.

Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker, Republican of Concord, voted in favor of the bill.

"We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options," she says.

A key federal panel Wednesday recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve the first new weight-loss drug in more than a decade.

At the conclusion of a day-long hearing, the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 20-2 to endorse a request from Vivus to approve the drug Qnexa. The same panel gave a thumbs-down to Qnexa in 2010.

Qnexa is a combination of two generic drugs that are already on the market:

A group of weight-loss clinics in Southern California is under fire for an aggressive advertising campaign and the death of five patients.

The 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign and its affiliated surgical centers are being investigated by local, state and federal agencies, including Congress.

Photo:<a href="http://www.401kcalculator.org">401Kcalculator.org</a> / Flickr

As part of the  Affordable Care Act, every state must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 2014. An exchange is a clearinghouse of sorts where people and small business can go to buy insurance and also find out which tax rebates they may use to help them buy coverage.

Parents and doctors around the world have been alarmed by the dramatic increase in childhood asthma.

One factor in the upswing is better detection by doctors, but at least one doctor thinks a common over-the-counter drug also has something to do with it.

One tool doesn't fit all when it comes to surgery.

Pediatric surgeons know this all too well when it's time to operate on a baby. Some infants are born prematurely. Others have congenital defects — some part of their internal anatomy that just didn't develop the way it was supposed to.

Tracy Grant was just 39 when she got the diagnosis.

"They asked me to stay a little bit longer because they saw something a little weird," she remembers. "In my mind I was saying, ... 'Here we go, this doesn't look good.' "

It was breast cancer. As devastating as the news was, it wasn't a surprise. Her mother, Catherine Grant, was diagnosed at age 51.

Certificate Of Need--Is It Still Needed?

Feb 14, 2012
Auntie P / flickr

New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing a law that would do away with the Certificate of Need process. This is a state requirement for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that want to expand or establish new medical facilities. The aim of CON is to keep redundant healthcare out of the system.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing a spot in New Hampshire. The for profit chain wants to build a hospital in the Northeast. CTCA successfully lobbied Georgia to change its regulations so a specialty hospital could be built in that state. The company is hoping lawmakers in New Hampshire will make similar changes. A proposed law would exempt specialty cancer hospitals from certain regulations and also from Medicaid taxes.

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