Health

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Back in June, the state legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from creating its own health exchange. Instead, New Hampshire will let the Federal government set it up.

But with big Democratic gains in last week’s election, the state is likely to play a bigger role in shaping the exchange.

In case you don’t remember, exchanges are those on-line marketplaces where people will shop for health insurance beginning in 2014.

Jobs and the economy continue to dominate on the campaign trail, from the national to the local level. But  government run health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare are also getting their fair share of attention. Major changes to both programs are potentially on the horizon.

With just over a week to go until the election, NHPR’s health reporter Todd Bookman has this overview of what’s at stake for Granite State voters. 

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Hospitals, advocates, and even formula manufacturers acknowledge that when it comes to newborns, “breast is best.”  And yet free samples of formula are ubiquitous inside many hospital walls – offered by nurses, doctors, or thrown in goodie bags for new mothers heading home after giving birth.  Now, some hospitals are calling for an in-house ban on free formula samples.  They say the relative ease of bottle-feeding may sway new nursing mothers to give

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A judge heard arguments today in a case involving patient medical records at Exeter Hospital. At issue is just how much access the state needs to investigate an outbreak of Hepatitis C.

Back in August, Exeter Hospital filed a protective order arguing the state’s broad request for patient records violates both state and federal privacy laws.

In Merrimack Superior court, lawyers for the State countered, saying they have a duty to investigate exactly what happened inside the hospital, and that means they need complete access.

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The number of cases of fungal meningitis in New Hampshire now stands at six. Public health officials today announced two more cases of the infection.

The patients all received tainted steroid injections manufactured by New England Compounding Company. The Massachusetts-based manufacturer has since recalled all of its products.

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There is something mysterious about root vegetables…that show of budding, flowering and forming fruit… ripe for the plucking plays out underground. you see the leaves, and maybe the broad shoulders of a beet, but you don’t know what you’ve got until pulling it out of the ground. Once exposed, we know what to do with a potato or carrot, but little about the furtive burdock root, salsify or malanga.  Diane Morgan digs deep into the secrets of this nutritious family of foods that are low in calories and easy on the wallet.

Obesity is on the rise here in New  Hampshire, a recent study finds that the U.S. population is gaining too much weight. New Hampshire's numbers are also increasing, with about 26% of Granite Staters now considered obese. Its also predicted that by the year 2030, more than half of this state's population will be obese. Today we'll look at this study and see what can be done to tip the scales in the opposite direction.

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Any parent can tell you that sweet foods are an easier sell to kids than, say, sprouts or salad. But with more than a quarter of New Hampshire struggling with obesity, researchers at Keene State College are working on innovative ways to get children as young as three years old hooked on vegetables.

No patients in New Hampshire have tested positive for fungal meningitis as the national outbreak continues to grow.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sskennel/4526014600/">SSkennel</a> / Flickr

In a press conference at Exeter Hospital today, lawyers called the state’s request for broad access to medical records a government overreach. The state continues to investigate the Hepatitis C outbreak.

In August, Exeter Hospital filed a protective order in Merrimack Superior Court. It’s seeking to block the state’s request for broad access to patient medical records.

State officials investigating the outbreak of Hepatitis C at Exeter Hospital continue pressing for access to patient medical records.

In August, the hospital went to court seeking a protective order, arguing that the Division of Public Health Services’ broad request for records violates both state and federal privacy laws.

Today, the state filed its response in Merrimack Superior Court. It says that healthcare providers are required to share information during a public health investigation.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whiskeyandtears/2212224985/">whiskey and tears</a> / flickr

This week, New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services identified the season’s first case of influenza. Beth Daly, chief of infectious disease surveillance at DHHS, is encouraging Granite Staters to get vaccinated.

"It’s not too early to be vaccinated," Daly says, "and the flu vaccine this year does contain different strains of the virus, so it’s important that people be vaccinated this year even if they were vaccinated last year as well."  

Living with Lyme

Sep 17, 2012
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Recently, we learned on this program about the other tick-borne pathogens we should be worrying about beyond Lyme Disease. In the meantime, more and more people in New Hampshire are contracting Lyme. It’s a trend we’ve noticed even on Facebook, where many of our friends are posting about their positive test results, including Word of Mouth contributor Adam McCune…so we asked him to share his story.

A day after the primary elections, lawmakers were back at the statehouse discussing health insurance. At issue is what insurance companies will have to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA calls for states to select something called a private insurance Essential Health Benefit benchmark by September 30th. Simply put, lawmakers in Concord need to pick an insurance plan that will serve as a model for most other insurance plans offered in the state.

And they have less than three weeks to do it.

In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria began an article he titled “Laughter – The Best Medicine.” He found decades of research on the therapeutic effects of laughter and wanted to investigate further. He managed to convince four people at a public park in  Mumbai, India, to start a laughter club.  At first they used jokes, but when the jokes ran out, they began to laugh at nothing.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Mosquitoes get West Nile Virus from birds, and then they give it to us. It’s Ryan Naujoks's job to stop that. He works for Dragon Mosquito Control, a private company that municipalities like Derry hire to spray insecticides.

"I’m at Rider Field right now, and everything is locked up," Naujoks says over the phone. "Rider Field…"

Eventually, someone from the Town of Derry comes and unlocks the gates. Naujoks fires up the sprayer.

The truck makes a lap around the field emitting a small puff of white smoke.

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Health officials announced today that a Manchester resident has been infected with West Nile Virus.

It’s the first confirmed infection since September, 2010 in New Hampshire.

West Nile Virus first appeared in the state in 2000. Since then, four other humans have contracted the mosquito-borne virus.

National data from the CDC shows that the number of confirmed cases has risen dramatically in recent weeks.

There have also been 41 deaths; more than half in the state of Texas, where over 500 cases have been reported.

State health officials say they’ve confirmed another case of hepatitis C related to the outbreak at Exeter Hospital, bringing the total number of infected patients to 32.

In a statement today, the Department of Health and Human Services says the patient in question was admitted to Exeter Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab before suspect David Kwiatkowski began working there. But they say the patient was released after Kwiatkowski started his job as a technician.

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A list of the top-ten most-read stories on nhpr.org and StateImpact- NH website.

The story of  a medical technician charged with infecting at least thirty people at Exeter Hospital has turned into a national concern, with news he’d worked in a half-dozen other states, where hospitals are now checking their records and contacting patients.  We’ll get an update and look at what we’ve learned from this crisis so far.

Guests

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sskennel/4526014600/">SSkennel</a> / Flickr

The investigation continues into the Hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital is moving to several other states. This week officials at a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, are testing about 25 patients who underwent procedures at the time technician David Kwiatowski worked there.

Photo Credit sxyblkmn, Via Flickr Creative Commons

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a science journalist, author, and blogger for Boing-Boing, where she usually writes about the convergence of science and technology with culture. But it was a blog she posted recently, which diverged from her typical subject matter, which prompted us to ask her to return as a guest to the program.

Public health officials say six more Exeter Hospital patients have tested positive for Hepatitis C. That brings the total number of infections to 27.

Local, state and federal law enforcement are still investigating the cause of the outbreak. An Exeter Hospital employee is suspected of exposing patients to the liver-destroying virus by mishandling needles.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wcowperthwaite/5774727034/">Wheeler Copperthwaite</a> / Flickr

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is leading a statewide effort to help residents get tested.

Seventeen New Hampshire testing sites are offering a rapid-response oral HIV test. The screening requires only a saliva swab and produces results in 20 minutes. If the test comes back positive, then the next step is a blood test.  

While the future of the Affordable Care Act is unclear, some of the changes may be here to stay. President of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Jim Weinstein is focusing on the improvement of patient care over providing more care. NHPR's Dan Gorenstein reporting for Marketplace has more.

Getting Sour on Sugar

Jun 5, 2012

This most ubiquitous and irresistible of foods has also been called addictive and toxic and has been linked with obesity, diabetes, and, recently, memory loss. Some are calling for regulating sugar  as if it were tobacco. But others say it is intrinsic to our very survival as a species, found even in breast milk and that demonizing or shunning sugar is the wrong course. 

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<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39794839@N03/5086437626/">HealthHomeHappy.com</a> / Flickr

Although Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) undergo virtually the same training as medical doctors, their services have hitherto not been covered by insurance companies in the state of New Hampshire. Two and a half years ago ND Bert Mathieson, frustrated by what struck him as “discrimination flat out,” got a sponsor for a bill that would change N.H. law. HB351 would require insurers in the state to reimburse naturopathic doctors, who emphasize illness prevention and lifestyle guidance rather than pharmaceutical or surgical procedures in their practice.

The Supreme Court will rule in the coming weeks on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the health care law that has been a flashpoint of partisan acrimony and debate since its beginning.

Much of that debate has been philosophical. But now that the law is under review by the country's highest court, politicians have to plan for the real implications of the court's decision. That's proving particularly difficult for congressional Republicans.

The expansion of forensic databases by US federal agencies. DNA collection of convicted felons is a well- publicized procedure. Recently released documents reveal that the department of homeland security and other federal agencies will be required to collect DNA from any person over the age of fourteen who has been detained -- regardless of criminal activity -- and that plans to include children under 14 are being explored.  

The Women of Wine

May 21, 2012

Sip a glass of Italian wine tonight with dinner.  Savor its full-bodied flavor, or its delicate notes of plum or cherries.    If you really concentrate, you might detect another subtle but important flavor - equality.  Italian women are revolutionizing the way vino is made, promoted and sold.  And women in corporate boardrooms might not be a new phenomenon; their entrance in the world’s male-dominated cantinas and vineyards is, especially as   they’re making changes that are nothing to sniff at.  Nancy Greenleese reports.

 

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