Health and health care news

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a confirmed travel-related case of measles in Franklin County in western Maine, the first case reported in Maine in two decades.

State epidemiologist Siiri Bennett said the person acquired the infection while overseas.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will vote no on the Senate health bill.

In a series of tweets on Monday night, Collins said she wants to fix the flaws in the Affordable Care Act, but a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows the Senate bill won’t do it.

Province of British Columbia / Flickr

The LePage administration is relaxing certain requirements for child care providers who look after children in their own homes, while unilaterally increasing the amount of money they receive for enrolling low-income children with state-funded subsidies.

The administration says it’s overhauling the way the state treats this particular type of child care setting because it wants to reverse a long-term decline in the number of in-home child care providers and make affordable child care more widely available in rural areas.

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

Rachael Goldring was born with congenital heart disease. Had she been born a few decades earlier, she probably would have died as a baby. Goldring is now 24 and among a population of patients who present new challenges to a health care system unaccustomed to dealing with survivors of once-fatal conditions.

Today there are more adults than kids living with some of these diseases, and medical training is lagging. Young adults who can't find suitable doctors may drop out of care, and their conditions may worsen.

More adolescents in the Lewiston area are seeking mental health services following the suicide death of a middle school student in May. Providers say the increased demand highlights the need for more clinicians, and more openness about mental illness.

Immediately after it became known that the Lewiston Middle School student had taken her own life, Tri-County Mental Health Services in Lewiston doubled its mobile crisis program staff from three to six. Executive Director Catherine Ryder says while she hasn’t had time to track numbers, it’s clear that more people are seeking help.

A plan by the parent company of Maine Medical Center and 10 other community hospitals to merge its member organizations into one unified entity is moving forward.

MaineHealth says the boards of nine of the 10 members that make up the system have decided it’s time to engage their communities about unifying under a single board of trustees with a combined financial structure. Regulatory processes specific to New Hampshire have delayed a vote by a member hospital in that state.

RUMFORD, Maine - The grandmother of a Pennsylvania girl shot to death four years ago says she was brought to tears at the high school graduation of a Maine teenager whose life was saved with a transplant of the girl's lungs.

Sheri Blackburn and her husband, Jim, of Nottingham, Pennsylvania, drove nearly 600 miles (965 kilometers) to watch Logan Hammer receive his diploma Thursday at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, Maine.

A new study by Georgetown University finds that most Medicaid recipients live in rural areas.

In Maine, 38 percent of children on Medicaid live in rural areas, compared with 30 percent in urban areas. For adults, the difference is 19 percent and 13 percent.

Research professor Jack Hoadley says funding cuts to Medicaid being considered by Congress would harm rural patients and hospitals in particular.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The LePage administration wants to require people who receive Medicaid to work or volunteer in order to receive health care. The state imposed a similar requirement for food stamps a few years ago. The administration touts it as a pathway out of poverty, while others call it a roadblock.

s_p_e_x / Flickr/Creative Commons

Two cases of Powassan encephalitis have been identified in Maine.

According to the state Center for Disease Control, two adults from the midcoast were hospitalized in late April with the virus, but have since been discharged.

Powassan is transmitted through woodchuck and deer ticks. Signs and symptoms begin one week to one month after the tick bite and can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Even if you have insurance, trying to access health care can be a frustrating experience. Getting appointments can take weeks or months, let alone a proper diagnosis or treatment. But a company that recently expanded to Maine aims to make accessing optimal health care easy by using the power of data.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The parents of a Lewiston Middle School student who died by suicide this week say their daughter’s story reveals a complete breakdown in Maine’s mental health system. Anie Graham’s parents say there should be distinct protocols to help kids at risk of suicide, and properly trained providers who are available to help.

Another Small Maine Hospital to Stop Delivering Babies

May 24, 2017

CALAIS, Maine — Calais Regional Hospital will close its obstetrics department, a move that will leave Washington County with just one hospital fully equipped to deliver newborns.

Since 2007, the hospital’s delivery rate has dropped from more than 100 births annually to just 60 last year, according to a statement from Calais Regional. That decline, coupled with a shortage of nursing staff, lead to “heavy financial losses” in the obstetrics department that the board determined the hospital can no longer sustain, the hospital said.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Bills to create a uniform teacher contract across the state are set for key committee votes.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage says such an idea would help rural districts compete for teachers.

Bills sponsored by GOP Reps. Matt Pouliot and Jeffrey Timberlake are set for work sessions Tuesday.

Pouliot says his bill would maintain local control while creating a uniform compensation system based upon performance results.

Timberlake says Maine shouldn't just throw more money at education.