Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 8th fittest metro area

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Map of SeattleThe Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region is the 8th fittest metropolitan area in the US, just behind Portland, Oregon and just ahead of Boston, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.  Washington, D.C. was ranked number 1. Indianapolis, dead last.

Our good points are we have:

  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • Higher Walk Score®
  • Higher percent of population within a 10 minute walk to a park
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical Education classes

Our bad points are we have:

  • Higher percent obese
  • Higher percent of days when physical health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent of days when mental health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent with asthma
  • Higher percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Higher percent with diabetes
  • Fewer acres of parkland per capita
  • Fewer swimming pools per capita

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Telemedicine under attack as abortion rights supporters seek more options for women

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Photo by Brainloc

By Michelle Andrews
KHN

The House of Representatives’ approval last week of a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks brings into sharp focus the issue of early access to abortion.

Abortion rights supporters say more than a dozen states have banned one option that could improve early access: telemedicine.

Opponents say that “webcam” abortions are unsafe and suggest that clinics are using them as moneymakers.

Iowa and Minnesota are the only states that offer so-called “telemed” abortions. Women who choose this option confer with a doctor through an Internet video connection and can then be prescribed two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which when taken in sequence induce an abortion. Women who opt for a medication abortion can be no more than nine weeks into their pregnancy.

Supporters of telemed abortions say it increases the odds that a woman will be able to get an abortion earlier in her pregnancy, when the procedure is safer and cheaper, and in areas where providers are stretched thin.

In 2011, 89 percent of counties nationwide had no clinics that provided abortion services, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than a third of women of childbearing age lived in those counties.

Opponents say that “webcam” abortions are unsafe and suggest that clinics are using them as moneymakers to boost the number of abortions they can provide.

Photo courtesy of Brain Loc

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Paramedics steer non-emergency patients away from ERs

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By Anna Gorman
KHN

SPARKS, Nev. — Paramedic Ryan Ramsdell pulled up to a single-story house not far from Reno’s towering hotels and casinos in a nondescript Ford Explorer.

No ambulance, no flashing lights. He wasn’t there to rush 68-year-old Earl Mayes to the emergency room. His job was to keep Mayes out of the ER.

Mayes, who has congestive heart failure and chronic lung disease, greeted Ramsdell and told him that his heart was fluttering more than usual. “I had an up-and-down night,” he said.

Paramedic Ryan Ramsdell checks 68-year-old Earl Mayes blood pressure during a home visit on March 26, 2015 in Sparks, Nevada. Ramsdell is part of a community health plan to help reduce avoidable emergency room visits by treating patients at home (Photo by Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News).

Paramedic Ryan Ramsdell checks 68-year-old Earl Mayes blood pressure during a home visit on March 26, 2015 in Sparks, Nevada. Ramsdell is part of a community health plan to help reduce avoidable emergency room visits by treating patients at home (Photo by Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News).

“Let’s take a look at it,” the paramedic responded, carrying a big red bag with medical supplies. “We’ll put you on the monitor.”

Since Mayes was released from the hospital a few weeks earlier, paramedics had visited him several times to monitor his heart and lungs and make sure he was following his doctor’s orders.

“With these guys coming by and checking me all the time, it makes it so much better,” Mayes said.  “When they leave, you know where you stand.” Continue reading

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Pet geckos linked to Salmonella outbreak

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creasted-geckos-325A total of 20 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen have been reported from 16 states since January 1st including two in Washington state, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Three of these ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The outbreak appears to be linked to pet crested geckos purchased from multiple pet stores in different states, with Ten of 11 ill persons interviewed reported contact with a crested gecko in the week before their illness began.

map-5-15-2015

The CDC advises:

This outbreak is a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy your pet and keep your family healthy. CDC does not recommend that pet owners get rid of their geckos.

It is very important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching pet reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam.

More steps on how to enjoy your pet reptile and protect yourself and your family from illness are available in English and en Español.

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Top five stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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What preventive services must be provided for free under the Affordable Care Act?

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Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care A

stethoscope doctor's bag chest x-rayIf you have a new health insurance plan or insurance policy beginning on or after September 23, 2010, the following preventive services must be covered without your having to pay a copayment or co-insurance or meet your deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.

  • Covered Preventive Services for Adults
  • Covered Preventive Services for Women, Including Pregnant Women
  • Covered Preventive Services for Children

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Learning a new health insurance system the hard way

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By Jenny Gold
KHN

The insurance program was called “Believe Me”  — but Kairis Chiaji had her doubts.

She and her husband Arthur were skeptical that the new health plan they purchased for 2015 would actually work out. That’s because their experience in 2014 had been a disaster, she said.

The Sacramento, Calif., couple had been thrilled to learn last year about the prospect of subsidized coverage under the nation’s health law, she recalled. Each of them had been uninsured for years when they signed up for coverage through the state exchange, Covered California.

“I just thought about how many people who are like me,” explained Kairis, 43, a self-employed natural hairstylist and doula. “If you have a lot of money, you’re covered. If you don’t have any money, you’re covered. When you’re in the middle, working hard every day, that’s when it’s really tough.”

When her children were little she worried about paying for their care if they were injured.

“I just simply told my children, listen, all I’ve got is a ruler and duct tape, so you’re not allowed to break any bones. Literally you can’t get hurt,” she said. Continue reading

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California Senate votes to end beliefs waiver for school vaccinations | Reuters

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Boy gets shot vaccine injectionCalifornia parents who do not vaccinate their children would have to home-school them under a bill passed Thursday by the state Senate, the latest move in a battle between public health officials and “anti-vaxxers” who fear vaccines are dangerous.

The bill, which eliminates the so-called personal beliefs exemption allowing parents to forego vaccinations if opposed to them for any reason, was introduced after a measles outbreak at Disneyland last year that sickened more than 100 people.

Source: California Senate votes to end beliefs waiver for school vaccinations | Reuters

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Helping the mentally ill stay out of hospitals

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By Christine Vestal
Stateline

NEW YORK – It is a busy Friday afternoon. Staff members check in guests at the front desk. Other employees lead visitors on tours of the upstairs bedrooms, or field calls from people considering future stays. Aromas of garlic and roasted chicken seep out of the kitchen.

Community Access is not a bed and breakfast, although it feels that way when you walk through its unmarked door off Second Avenue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Also known as Parachute NYC, this quiet seven-bedroom facility is one of four publicly funded mental health centers in New York City (located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx) that provide an alternative to hospital stays for people on the verge of a mental health crisis.

Parachute’s respite centers have no medical staff, no medications, no locks or curfews and no mandatory activities. They are secure, welcoming places where people willingly go to escape pressure in their lives.

Parachute’s respite centers have no medical staff, no medications, no locks or curfews and no mandatory activities. They are secure, welcoming places where people willingly go to escape pressure in their lives and talk to trained “peer professionals” who can relate to what guests are going through because they are recovering from mental illness themselves.

Without places like this, New Yorkers who suffer from serious mental illness would have little choice but to check into a hospital or a hospital-like crisis center when their lives spin out of control. Some people need to be hospitalized for severe psychosis and depression, but many others end up in the hospital because they have no other options.

Relatively rare in the U.S., respite centers like this one cost a fraction of the price of a hospital stay, and can be far more effective at helping people avoid a psychotic break, severe mood swing or suicidal episode. Continue reading

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