Poor Health: A Frayed Safety Net

More than a quarter of the hospitals in the Pittsburgh area closed in the first decade of the 21s century, drastically reducing the amount of charitable care available to the poor.

The failure of the remaining hospitals to provide adequate care to low-income patients and the inability of free and government-funded clinics to fill the gap has left the region’s health safety net badly frayed.

The closures of 11 of 39 hospitals here between 2000 and 2010 left the region’s poor “worse off,” said Wilford Payne, executive director of Primary Care Health Services in Pittsburgh, which runs 11 federally qualified health centers in Allegheny County.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Health Department Offers Tips on How to Avoid Ticks and Lyme Disease

In response to a recent increase in the number of reported cases, the Allegheny County Health Department is offering advice on how to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, which can be contracted in wooded areas as well as yards and neighborhoods with low bushes or tall grass, from which ticks that spread the disease can most easily attach to a person.

In 2013, 145 cases of Lyme disease were reported in county residents, up sharply from several years ago.  From 2004 through 2008, the number of cases fluctuated between 16 and 35 per year.

Lyme disease, transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick, may be acquired not only on trips outside the area but also increasingly so locally, because the tick that transmits Lyme disease, Ixodes scapularis, also known as the deer tick, is the most commonly found tick on people and pets in Allegheny County.

In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tested 56 deer ticks found in Allegheny County for Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, and found that 19 or 34% of the ticks were infected.

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Best Doctor, Inc. Uses Cloud-Based Technology to Connect Physicians Worldwide

Best Doctors, Inc., the global health company dedicated to improving health outcomes by getting people the right diagnosis and treatment, today announced that it is one of 13 “Volunteer Achievement” projects honored by the Botín Foundation among 550 nominated endeavors. Best Doctors was honored for its ability to use the power of physician collaboration, telemedicine, and partnerships with major medical missions to bring improved health outcomes to those who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions made worse by a lack of local resources.

Working in conjunction with the Recover Hospitals for Africa Foundation’s Teleasistencia/Salud 2.0 initiative, a project combining quality health care, clinical collaboration, training, and research to focus on improving health care for African patients with minimal economic resources, Best Doctors was able to introduce the cutting-edge Medting platform which seamlessly connects physicians in Spain with physicians throughout Africa to collaborate on the most complex cases.

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Improving Balance and Preventing Falls Through Strength Training

DrWarrenBy Dr. Ramona Warren

As people age one of their biggest fears is falling and losing the ability to care for themselves. This is a valid fear since government records show that between 30 and 40 percent of people age 65 years or older fall at least once each year. Bone-breaking falls are one of the most common reasons older adults are no longer able to live in their own homes.

Falls are also the most common reason for hospitalization in older adults.   When there are fractures involved, especially of the hip, it can be particularly dangerous. As many as 25 percent of people with hip fractures die within one year.

Read the rest of the article at Pathways to Healing.

Survey of 4,000+ People Reveals Top 10 Depression Treatments (Surprisingly, Medication Is #23 on the List)

Most of us assume that medication is “the” go-to treatment option for depression. However, Graeme Cowan’s survey of over 4,000 people reveals that for most patients, other treatment options can be far more effective.

When you think of depression treatments, odds are, your mind immediately goes to medication. After all, you can’t watch TV for more than 30 minutes without seeing a commercial advocating the life-improving benefits of one pharmaceutical or another. And certainly, medication is a common, very visible, and often quite effective treatment for depression.

However you may be surprised to learn that in a survey of 4,064 people who have lived with depression or bipolar disorder, most respondents didn’t rate medication among the most effective treatments that contributed to their recovery. In fact, the highest-rating medication came in at number 23!

“While the ‘most effective’ treatment regimen for depression is different for each patient, it’s clear that a multipronged approach that goes beyond ‘just’ medication often works best,” says Graeme Cowan, who conducted the aforementioned survey and is the author of Back from the Brink: True Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder (New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2014, ISBN: 978-1-608-82856-2, $16.95, www.IAmBackFromTheBrink.com).

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Pennsylvania Emergency Physicians Caution against Fireworks Hazards

Most everyone enjoys a dazzling fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Cities and towns across Pennsylvania host pyrotechnical shows each year. But no one enjoys the burns and other injuries that can result from being too close to the spectacle or mishandling a firecracker. “You can’t be too careful around fireworks,” says Dr. Michael Bohrn, President, Pennsylvania Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians (PaACEP.) “Emergency professionals see more firework-related injuries around the Fourth of July than people would like to believe.”

Emergency departments in Pennsylvania treat thousands of fireworks-related injuries each year, many of which occur among children under 15. Most injuries involve burns, but others include damage to eyes, head, face and ears. Notable fireworks-related incidents in Pennsylvania include a mishap in Palmyra in 2010 and another near New Castle in 2013. In both of these cases, young people sustained serious burns and other injuries.

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VA Hospital Fiasco a Harbinger on Nation’s Physician Shortage

The big problem at the VA is that it’s competing for doctors with every hospital in the country, physician practices, insurance companies, urgent care centers, retail clinics, and community health centers.

This ongoing scandal surrounding long waiting times for physician appointments at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals has generated an array of justifiable responses including grief, anger and embarrassment.

Read more.

 

Veterans in Southwest Pennsylvania Now Have a One-Stop Destination for All Support Services

Checkpoint has simplified the process for all Veterans of the United States military and their families to connect to resources in their communities regardless of their age, service type, rank, or situation.  All Veterans in southwest Pennsylvania can now utilize Checkpoint’s online platform (www.thecheckpoint.org) to find the things that they need and become more informed about what’s happening in the region’s Veteran community.  Checkpoint users can identify specific providers serving specific needs like career advancement, medical care and more.  At the same time they can read peer reviews of services that will help them make the right decisions on who to contact.

“As we begin to observe Memorial Day, a day where we honor the memories and the service of those brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom, we want to stress the importance of helping provide quality support services to those Veterans who are still with us as well,” says Jared Souder, Executive Director of Checkpoint who is an Iraq war veteran. “Checkpoint provides Veterans with a platform not only learn about any and every opportunity, but to be heard and told through a fellow Veteran’s voice – so we can empower them to truly reintegrate into our region.”

[Read more...]

The Children’s Institute Launches Care Coordination Program

The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh’s Care Coordination Program for Children with Medical Complexity will launch this June. The Care Coordination Program is a new service in which a team of health care professionals from The Children’s Institute works with families to ensure that their children with medical complexity receive the services they need, when they need them. Outcomes are expected to include better health, better healthcare, and lower healthcare costs.

Care Coordination will be available to Western Pennsylvania children and young people with medical complexity, which may include – acquired brain injury, congenital heart disease, cancer, spinal cord injury or multiple major diagnoses. Children with medical complexity often have multiple physician specialty visits, therapies and other providers visits in a given year. The coordination of their services can be extremely challenging for families.  For more information about this new program, please call 412.420.2599.

Living to 90 and Beyond (Part Two)