UW, Gonzaga finalize partnership to run Spokane medical school – Puget Sound Business Journal


UW Starting fall 2016, the UW School of Medicine and Gonzaga will welcome is largest-ever class to dedicated facilities on Gonzaga’s campus.

The program is known as WWAMI, which is a collaboration between Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

UW and WSU used to partner on the program. But when WSU began pursuing its own medical school in Spokane, the partnership dissolved.

Source: UW, Gonzaga finalize partnership to run Spokane medical school – Puget Sound Business Journal


Study Finds HPV Vaccine Has Lowered Number Of Women With Disease


The HPV vaccine has lowered the number of women with HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cancer, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. NPR’s Audie Cornish talks to Dr. Joseph Bocchini from Louisiana State University to get his read on the results.


Reminder: Exchange enrollees must file their IRS forms to keep subsidies


Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is notifying residents who enrolled in a health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder that failure to file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service will impact their ability to receive tax credits, preventing them from getting assistance to lower the cost of health insurance premiums.

Beginning this week, customers who received advanced health insurance premium tax credits last year but did not file a federal tax return will be sent a letter from the Exchange notifying them that they are ineligible to continue collecting health insurance premium tax credits.

These customers must now pay the full price of any upcoming health insurance premium payments until they file and reconcile their 2014 federal taxes.

“Because this is the first year that a tax return must be filed in order to keep receiving tax credits, customers are just now seeing the consequences for not filing,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Residents who have received tax credits in the past should reconcile those along with their tax filings in order to continue receiving lower premium payments.” Continue reading


Struggling rural hospitals opt to close labor and delivery units


Newborn preemie baby hand NICUBy Michelle Andrews

A few years ago, when a young woman delivered her baby at Alleghany Memorial Hospital in Sparta, North Carolina, it was in the middle of a Valentine’s Day ice storm and the mountain roads out of town were impassable. The delivery was routine, but the baby girl had trouble breathing because her lungs weren’t fully developed.

Dr. Maureen Murphy, the family physician who delivered her that night, stayed in touch with the neonatal intensive care unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, a 90-minute drive away, to consult on treatment for the infant.

“It was kind of scary for a while,” Murphy remembered. But with Murphy and two other family physicians trained in obstetrics as well as experienced nurses staffing the 25-bed hospital’s labor and delivery unit, the situation was manageable, and both mother and baby were fine.

Things are different now. Alleghany hospital — like a growing number of rural hospitals — has shuttered its labor and delivery unit, and pregnant women have to travel either to Winston-Salem or to Galax, Virginia, about 30 minutes away by car, weather permitting.

“It’s a long drive for prenatal care visits, and if they have a fast labor” it could be problematic, said Murphy, who teaches at the Cabarrus Family Medicine Residency Program in Concord, North Carolina. (Although not essential, women typically see the physician they expect will handle their delivery for prenatal care.) Continue reading


First case of Zika virus disease reported in Washington


Health officials urge heightened disease prevention awareness among travelers

From the Washington State Department of Health

2016 Cynthia Goldsmith Caption:This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae.  Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. Additional Information:“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.”For more information on the Zika virus, follow the link below.

Zika virus – Photo: Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC

Washington State Department of Health received confirmation today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that a Mason County man in his 20’s, who visited a Thurston County hospital, is the first person in the state to test positive for Zika virus.

The person recently traveled to the South Pacific before returning to Washington.

People who’ve returned from Zika-affected areas who are pregnant or having symptoms of Zika illness should contact their healthcare provider.

“Because many people travel to and from places where Zika is spreading, we’ve been expecting to have imported cases of Zika virus disease,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases for the Department of Health. “While the Zika virus is of greatest risk to pregnant women, it is understandably concerning to many of us. The good news is this virus spreads through the bite of a type of mosquito we don’t have in Washington state, so it is very unlikely that this virus would spread widely here.” Continue reading


Vaginal ring provides partial protection from HIV in large multinational trial


From the National Institutes of Health

NIH-funded study finds protective effect strongest in women over age 25.

Woman holding the dapivirine vaginal ring tested in the NIH-funded ASPIRE study. International Partnership for Microbicides

Woman holding the dapivirine vaginal ring tested in the NIH-funded ASPIRE study. International Partnership for Microbicides

A ring that continuously releases an experimental antiretroviral drug in the vagina safely provided a modest level of protection against HIV infection in women, a large clinical trial in four sub-Saharan African countries has found.

The ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27 percent in the study population overall and by 61 percent among women ages 25 years and older, who used the ring most consistently.

These results were announced today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston and simultaneously published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Women need a discreet, long-acting form of HIV prevention that they control and want to use,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the primary funder of the trial. “This study found that a vaginal ring containing a sustained-release antiretroviral drug confers partial protection against HIV among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Further research is needed to understand the age-related disparities in the observed level of protection.”

Women accounted for more than half of the 25.8 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. Finding effective HIV prevention tools for adolescent girls and young women in particular is critical, as one in four new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa occur in this group. Continue reading


States start to let pharmacists prescribe birth control pills


Photo: Matthew Bowden

By Sarah Breitenbach

Since January, Charley McGrady has been doling out hormonal contraceptive pills and patches to women who come to her Eugene, Oregon, pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription for birth control.

A new state law allows McGrady to consult women about pregnancy prevention and write prescriptions for contraceptives that previously required a doctor’s signature.

Oregon’s move to pharmacist-prescribed birth control is an attempt to increase access to the drugs and reduce unintended pregnancies, which make up more than half of all pregnancies in the United States. It also is part of a movement toward team-based medical care, in which doctors and other medical professionals together oversee patients’ care.

California pharmacists will begin writing their own prescriptions for birth control next month, and lawmakers in HawaiiMissouriSouth CarolinaTennessee and Washington are considering legislation that would give pharmacists the power to prescribe contraceptives.

Pharmacists in several states already can prescribe certain drugs under the supervision of a physician, but laws like those in Oregon and California give them autonomy to prescribe contraceptives on their own after completing a training course.

Photo: Matthew Bowden Continue reading


Urging openness about superbug infection, a doctor omits cases in his own hospital


By Chad Terhune
Philadelphia Inquirer/KHN

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows the tip of a duodenoscope. U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 laid out extra safety measures that hospitals can take to clean the specialized medical scopes that have been linked to sometimes deadly bacterial outbreaks across the U.S., but acknowledged that not all hospitals have the staff, expertise and resources to take the steps, including sterilizing scopes with toxic gas to kill bacteria. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration via AP)

Contaminated duodenoscopes, like the one seen above, have been linked to 19 superbug outbreaks in the U.S. from 2012 to 2015, according to a Senate report released last month. (Photo/U.S. Food and Drug Administration, File)

As superbug outbreaks raised alarm across the country last year, a prominent doctor at a Philadelphia cancer center wrote in a leading medical journal about how to reduce the risk of these often-deadly patient infections.

Dr. Jeffrey Tokar, director of gastrointestinal endoscopy at Fox Chase Cancer Center, pointed to recent outbreaks from contaminated medical scopes and discussed steps doctors and hospitals should take to ensure patient safety in his Sept. 22 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Health care facilities and providers should strive to establish an environment of open information exchange with patients about what is being done to maximize their safety,” Tokar and his two co-authors wrote.

What Tokar didn’t mention was that a tainted device at his own cancer center may have infected three patients with drug-resistant bacteria. In accordance with federal rules, the hospital reported the possibility to the manufacturer, Fujifilm, in May 2015, and the manufacturer filed the information with U.S. regulators. Continue reading


Coverage for autism treatment varies by state

© The Pew Charitable Trusts

At the Autism Academy of South Carolina in Columbia, Kristen Bettencourt helps 6-year-old Brooke Sharpe assemble a Mr. Potato Head. Health insurance coverage for behavior analysis treatment is hit or miss across the country, despite requirements in 44 states. PHOTO: © The Pew Charitable Trusts

By Jen Fifield

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — All morning at the Autism Academy of South Carolina, 6-year-old Brooke Sharpe has been doing what her therapist tells her to do: build a Mr. Potato Head; put together a four-piece puzzle of farm animals; roll a tennis ball.

Now it’s Brooke’s turn to choose. She touches an icon of Elsa from the movie “Frozen” on her iPad. When “Let It Go” begins to play, she swings her braids to the music. For Brooke, who has a severe form of autism and doesn’t speak, this is progress: Last year, unable to express a preference, she might have just flailed to the floor in tears, said Kristen Bettencourt, her therapist.

Forty-four states have begun requiring some insurance plans to cover applied behavior analysis for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. But the rules are all different, making for uneven coverage across states.

The treatment Brooke is receiving, “applied behavior analysis,” has been proven to help children with autism learn new skills, develop good behaviors and stop bad ones. It is the method known to work best for treating autism, but health insurance doesn’t always cover it.

Since 2001, 44 states have begun requiring some insurance plans to cover ABA for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. But the rules are all different, making for uneven coverage across states. Autism Speaks, a national nonprofit, estimates that 36 percent of Americans have access to autism coverage. Continue reading


Supreme Court vacancy creates muddle for future of reproductive rights


U.S. Supreme CourtBy Julie Rovner

The sudden death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has complicated the fate of many major cases before the Supreme Court this term. But few issues face as much turmoil going forward as women’s reproductive rights.

In March the court is scheduled to hear two separate cases; one on abortion and one on contraceptive insurance coverage. And the absence of Scalia means predictions of what may be the state of the law come the end of the court’s term this June are being turned, if not on their heads, at least sideways.

The abortion case, which originated in Texas, is considered the more significant of the two. Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt asks whether the state’s law imposing a series of restrictions on abortion clinics amounts to an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to have the procedure.

Prior to Justice Scalia’s death, it was considered likely that the court would uphold a Texas law that limits access to abortion, thus giving the nod not just to Texas, but to a broad array of state laws to scale back abortion access.

With only part of the law in effect, about half of the state’s 40 abortion clinics have closed. If the rest of the law is allowed to take full effect, abortion providers estimate that only around 10 would remain open.

The contraceptive case, Zubik v Burwell, is actually seven separate cases that have been bundled together. All the plaintiffs are religious-affiliated institutions that claim the Obama administration’s “accommodation” to allow them not to offer contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans still interferes with their religious freedom.

The administration’s rules specify that religious hospitals or schools do not have to “contract, arrange, pay, or refer a person for contraceptive coverage.” But it does require those entities to tell the federal government who its insurer is, so the government may make arrangements for the coverage to be provided. That, argue the plaintiffs, makes them “complicit in sin” through the act of providing coverage.

Prior to Scalia’s death, it was considered likely that the court would uphold the Texas law, thus giving the nod not just to Texas, but to a broad array of state laws to scale back abortion access by, among other things, requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as “ambulatory surgical centers” that do much more complicated procedures. Continue reading


More than a third of Americans not getting enough sleep – UPI.com


More than 83 million Americans are walking zombies, sleeping less than the recommended seven hours per night, according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers at the agency said one-third of the country is opening themselves up to greater chance for obesity, high blood pressure and other metabolic diseases by missing out on sleep.

Source: More than a third of Americans not getting enough sleep – UPI.com


Pope suggests contraception can be condoned in Zika crisis – AP


400px-Coat_of_arms_of_Franciscus.svgPope Francis has suggested women threatened with the Zika virus could use artificial contraception, saying “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil” in light of the global epidemic.

The pope unequivocally rejected abortion as a response to the crisis in remarks Wednesday as he flew home after a five-day trip to Mexico.

But he drew a parallel to a decision by Pope Paul VI in the 1960s to approve giving nuns in Belgian Congo artificial contraception to prevent pregnancies because they were being systematically raped.

Source: News from The Associated Press


Elderly risk more complications after major cancer surgery | Reuters


Overall, almost one in 10 adults age 55 and older had at least one post-operative issue like delirium, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers or unusual weight loss, the study of nearly 1 million cancer surgery patients found.

These setbacks were even more common when patients were at least 65 years old, had two or more other serious health problems in addition to malignancies, or had surgeries for tumors of the digestive system or nearby organs.

But the odds were worst for people over 75 – about 46 percent of them had at least one complication, compared with 22 percent of adults aged 55 to 64.

Source: Elderly risk more complications after major cancer surgery | Reuters