Category Archives: News

Top five stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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Poll: Many unaware how Ebola is spread

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By Phil Galewitz
KHN / OCTOBER 16TH, 2014

A new survey finds the public has a lot to learn about how the Ebola virus is transmitted, which could help explain the growing fears of the disease.

The survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that while nearly all adults (97 percent) know a person can become infected through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of someone who is sick with Ebola, there are still misconceptions. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

One third of respondents are unaware they cannot become infected through the air. About 45 percent are unaware they cannot contract Ebola by shaking hands with someone who has been exposed to the virus but who does not have symptoms.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 8.13.55 AM

And only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of respondents know that a person must be showing Ebola symptoms to transmit the infection, the poll found.

The survey, which was fielded after a Liberian man was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, and remained in the field after a nurse who helped care for him contracted the disease, finds most Americans say they trust local, state, and federal health authorities to contain the disease in the U.S.

The public was near evenly split on the federal government’s response to the crisis. About 45 percent said the government was doing enough to fight the disease in Africa and 48 percent said it was doing enough to protect Americans.

The telephone poll of 1,503 adults was conducted from October 8-14 and has a margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

khn_logo_lightKaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Inside a high-level biocontainment unit

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The United States Centers for Disease Control commissioned The Nebraska Medical Center biocontainment unit in 2005.

It was designed to provide the first line of treatment for people affected by bio terrorism or extremely infectious naturally occurring diseases. It’s the only non-governmental facility of its kind in the U.S.

The staff, all receive specialized training and participate in drills throughout the year. In a recent drill, the staff practiced dressing in spacesuit-like personal protection suits.

The suits provide each staff member the ability to care for an infected patient without exposing themselves. They also practice transporting an infected patient in a “bio pod” into a specially designed room inside the biocontainment unit.

The entire unit is specially isolated from the rest of the hospital, using its own ventilation system and security access.

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What is Ebola contact tracing? CDC video explains

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Contact tracing is finding everyone who comes in direct contact with a sick Ebola patient. Contacts are watched for signs of illness for 21 days from the last day they came in contact with the Ebola patient.

If the contact develops a fever or other Ebola symptoms, they are immediately isolated, tested, provided care, and the cycle starts again – all of the new patient’s contacts are found and watched for 21 days.

Contact tracing finds new cases quickly so they can be isolated, stopping further spread of Ebola.

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What to drink? Recommendations for health beverage choices.

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Beverage choices contribute significantly to dietary and caloric intake in the United States.

Choosing healthy beverages and other lower-calorie options, instead of high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages, has great potential to help Americans reduce caloric intake, improve diet quality, and reduce their risk for obesity.

Healthy Eating Research convened an expert advisory panel to develop Recommendations for Healthier Beverages.

The panel reviewed and analyzed data from scientific bodies, national organizations, public health organizations and the beverage industry to come up with its age-based recommendations.

Schools, child-care centers, hospitals, governments, and businesses can use the guidelines to provide children and families with healthy beverage choices.sinesses can use the guidelines to provide children and families with healthy beverage choices.

To read and download the guidelines, go here.

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The Exercise Cost of Soda and Juice – The Atlantic

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Soda Pop TopWhat if nutrition labels told people exactly what calories meant, in practical terms? A bottle of Coke could dole out specific exercise requirements. The calories herein, it might say, are the equivalent of a 50-minute jog. The decision to drink the Coke then becomes, would you rather spend the evening on a treadmill, or just not drink the soda?

via The Exercise Cost of Soda and Juice – The Atlantic.

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As Ebola lapses get spotlight in Texas, Seattle union nurses say they’re unprepared – Puget Sound Business Journal

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Ebola NIAID

An electron micrograph scan shows the Ebola virus emerging from an infected cell. (NIAID/NIH)

Workers with Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199NW say they’re worried they lack training in the proper procedures for cleaning rooms to manage Ebola patients.

Nurses and housekeepers at some hospitals say this reduces front-line defense against infectious diseases.

via As Ebola lapses get spotlight in Texas, Seattle union nurses say they’re unprepared – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Get your flu shot now, state health officials say

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Flu virus - courtesy of NAIAD

Flu virus – courtesy of NAIAD

Flu can be serious and deadly; get vaccinated now before people are sick

 Flu season is upon us and although state health officials don’t know exactly when the flu will strike, how serious it will be or how long the season will last, they do know that it spreads every year and now is the time to get vaccinated against this serious, sometimes deadly virus.

 “The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated every year,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Flu vaccine is available now in most provider offices and pharmacies across the state and getting it now will provide protection throughout the season. It’s not too early.” Continue reading

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Even with insurance, language barriers could undermine Asian Americans’ access to care

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Efforts to enroll Asian Americans in the health law’s marketplace plans have generally been touted as a success, but because coverage details are provided primarily in English or Spanish, those who depend on their native languages have encountered roadblocks as they try to use this new insurance.

About 35 percent of Asian Americans have limited English proficiency, according to a September report from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

The issue of language access gained attention last summer when the Obama administration notified thousands of people that their health insurance subsidies were at risk unless they updated their citizenship documentation because information on their initial applications could not be verified.

Advocates said many of those in jeopardy did not speak English well and did not understand the paperwork they received.

If people who face English language challenges don’t understand their coverage, maneuvering the health care system could prove unwieldy.

This example is not an isolated one.

Asian Americans, with limited English who enrolled in plans with the help of bilingual navigators and in-person assisters, are now trying to understand a slew of documents – things like explanations of benefits packages or notifications about paperwork deadlines – that often are not translated. Continue reading

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Washington state to offer breast cancer license plates

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BC-MountainRibbonOLYMPIA – There’s a new way to donate and show your support for breast cancer screening and testing. Starting Oct. 16, you have a chance to bid on the first batch of breast cancer license plates before they go on sale to everyone, starting in January.

Money raised from the sale of the plates will pay for breast cancer screenings and follow up tests for women with limited or no insurance through the state Department of Health’s Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program.

Money raised from the sale of the plates will pay for breast cancer screenings and follow up tests for women with limited or no insurance.

The auction runs through the end of the month. More information about the auction and how to bid can be found online. After this month’s auction, breast cancer license plates will be available for purchase in January 2015 for $60 through the state Department of Licensing. Continue reading

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Q&A: What are states doing to prepare for an Ebola outbreak?

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ebolaBy Christine Vestal
Stateline

As fears of an Ebola outbreak rise, federal agencies are taking steps to protect and inform the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is taking the lead on most aspects of the effort – issuing containment guidelines to hospitals and other health workers, training airport personnel on screening methods, and creating uniform lab tests to diagnose the deadly disease

. But as in all public health emergencies, state and local public health departments are the nation’s first line of defense.

What role do state and local health agencies play in protecting the public?

State and local health department workers are often first responders, communicating directly with residents and health care workers, as well as coordinating with related agencies and hospitals through established communication networks. They also manage public health laboratories that test for the virus.

For example, when the Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for Ebola in September, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the laboratory results to the hospital that was treating him and the Dallas County health agency began tracking down people who had direct contact with him.

Later, the state agency issued quarantine orders for those who had come in contact with Duncan, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department delivered the orders and county health officials checked the temperatures of those who were quarantined. Continue reading

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Second nurse with Ebola had recently traveled by air

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Frontier Airlines logoOn the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.

Here’s the full statement from the CDC:

CDC and Frontier Airlines Announce Passenger Notification Underway

On the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.

Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13.

CDC is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13 (the flight route was Cleveland to Dallas Fort Worth and landed at 8:16 p.m. CT) to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).

After 1 p.m. ET, public health professionals will begin interviewing passengers about the flight, answering their questions, and arranging follow up. Individuals who are determined to be at any potential risk will be actively monitored.

The healthcare worker exhibited no signs or symptoms of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew. Frontier is working closely with CDC to identify and notify passengers who may have traveled on flight 1143 on Oct. 13.  Passengers who may have traveled on flight 1143 should contact CDC at 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).

Frontier Airlines Statement

“At approximately 1:00 a.m. MT on October 15, Frontier was notified by the CDC that a customer traveling on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Oct. 13 has since tested positive for the Ebola virus. The flight landed in Dallas/Fort Worth at 8:16 p.m. local and remained overnight at the airport having completed its flying for the day at which point the aircraft received a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines prior to returning to service the next day. It was also cleaned again in Cleveland last night. Previously the customer had traveled from Dallas Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142 on October 10.

Customer exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew. Frontier responded immediately upon notification from the CDC by removing the aircraft from service and is working closely with CDC to identify and contact customers who may traveled on flight 1143.

Customers who may have traveled on either flight should contact CDC at 1 800 CDC-INFO.

The safety and security of our customers and employees is our primary concern. Frontier will continue to work closely with CDC and other governmental agencies to ensure proper protocols and procedures are being followed.”

For more information on ebola, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola.

 

 

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California Prop. 46, inspired by tragedy, pits doctors against lawyers

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Bob and Carmen Pack with their children Troy and Alana, who were killed by an impaired driver.

Bob and Carmen Pack with their children Troy and Alana, who were killed by an impaired driver.

This story is part of a partnership that includes KQEDNPR and Kaiser Health News.

Troy and Alana Pack had spent the day at their neighborhood Halloween party in Danville.

Ten-year-old Troy went as a baseball player, and 7-year-old Alana was a good witch.

In the afternoon, they changed out of their costumes and set out for a walk with their mother. Destination: Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors.

“Alana, she liked anything with chocolate,” says their father, Bob Pack. “Troy, for sure, bubble gum ice cream, ’cause he liked counting the bubble gums that he would get.”

Bob Pack stayed home. His family made it only half a mile down the road before his phone rang: “I received a call from a neighbor screaming there’d been an accident. And I raced down there.”

An impaired driver had veered off the road and hit Troy and Alana head-on. Pack was doing CPR on Troy when the paramedics arrived.

“I remember telling them I love them, and hang on. Just praying that they could hang on,” he says

I needed to take action for justice.

Troy and Alana were pronounced dead at the hospital. In the months after their death, Pack’s wife, Carmen, retreated into her Catholic faith. Bob Pack was angry.

“I think, for me to get through, I needed action,” he says, “and I needed to take action for justice for Troy and Alana, and also for doing something that I thought maybe I could change to benefit others in the future.” Continue reading

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