Health and health care news

Aisha Faquir / World Bank

Nearly half of adults in Maine likely have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday. A national physician task force has changed the definition of hypertension, and is recommending more patients receive treatment earlier.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control / via Associated Press

The tick-borne disease anaplasmosis on the rise in Maine.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control, the number of cases of the disease has grown from a little more than a dozen about a decade ago to 500 so far this year. Public health officials say the increase mirrors the movement of Lyme disease into Maine years ago.

As state epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett runs through the reported cases of anaplasmosis year by year, the numbers at first hold steady in the teens.

“In 2008 there were 17. 2009, 15,” she says.

But then, they start to grow.

Why Delivering Babies Is Draining Maine’s Small Hospitals

Nov 13, 2017
Courtesy Celia Geel / via Bangor Daily News

Celia Geel of Calais would have much preferred to deliver her second baby in the familiar, hometown hospital where she gave birth to her daughter, Cora, 2½ years ago. Instead, after Calais Regional Hospital closed its labor and delivery department in August, Colton Scott Geel came into the world — a wailing, 8 pounds, 7 ounces of healthy baby boy — at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, nearly 100 miles from home.

Jose Navarro / Flickr/Creative Commons

If you’ve ever experienced a migraine headache, you probably think of it as something bad. But a University of Maine psychology professor has a new theory about migraine attacks: that they may actually be the body’s natural way of protecting and repairing itself from toxins in the brain.

Maine voters voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid. But how long will it be before the 70,000 or so Mainers who qualify are covered? It could be months.

Maine Public State House Reporter Mal Leary and Maine Things Considered Host Nora Flaherty discussed the implementation of Maine’s Medicaid expansion. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Flaherty: I think when people heard the news that the referendum had passed many thought coverage would start shortly. Why is it going to take so long?

Patty Wight / Maine Public

While hundreds of thousands in southern Maine lost power due to Sunday night’s storm, the state’s largest hospital was still up and running — but Maine Medical Center isn’t completely immune from power outages.

At any given time, Maine Medical Center cares for hundreds of patients. From moms giving birth to patients who need surgery and those with emergency health problems.

“Today, for instance, we have about 500 patients that are in the hospital, right now,” says spokeswoman Caroline Cornish.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Next month, voters will decide whether the state should expand Medicaid. At stake is health coverage for an estimated 70,000 Mainers as well as financial stability for hospitals.

With flu season ahead, researchers at University of Maine say they've uncovered another reason to get a flu shot - especially for those with muscle disorders.

"The flu virus actually gets into your muscle cells," says Associate Professor Clarissa Henry, "so this is the first time it's been shown in a live animal."

Obesity rates in the US and Maine appear to be leveling off, according to new data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But health experts say the numbers are still too high.

Courtesy MDI Biological Laboratory

An MDI Biological Laboratory scientist's work on wounds is getting federal funding from the National Institutes of Health. 

Dr. Vicki Losick is getting $1.7 million over the next three years to study different ways that cells heal themselves after an injury.

Losick says wounds that don't heal - which are associated with diabetes and more generally with aging - are becoming more of a problem. "If your wounds don't heal you're at a higher risk for infection, and that's a considerable problem for Maine, where we have an aging population."

Toddler’s Lead Poison Scare Turns Phish Family Into Accidental Activists

Oct 11, 2017
Gabor Degre / Bangor Daily News

Jon and Briar Fishman tried to do all the right things when they moved their growing family from Vermont to a 200-year-old farmhouse in Lincolnville in 2006.

They had asked a contractor to test it for lead paint, which they knew was a common hazard in old homes, and were told that it was fine.

“I’m a hippie mom,” said Briar Fishman, a mom of five, whose husband is the drummer for the band Phish and a new selectman for the town of Lincolnville. “I thought this house was lead free.”

Gary Knight / NPR

This Sunday, Maine Public Radio debuts “Hidden Brain” with Shankar Vedantum.   Shanker has been exploring the social sciences in segments for NPR’s Morning Edition program, along with a “Hidden Brain” podcast.   He talked with Maine Public Radio’s Irwin Gratz about his new show, which will run for one hour, and air Sunday mornings at 11 on Maine Public Radio.

GRATZ: Good morning sir.


GRATZ: Tell us first how you came to this exploration of human behavior you've been on.

More than 150 small-business owners in Maine are endorsing a ballot question to expand Medicaid. At a press conference in Portland on Tuesday, members of the Maine Small Business Coalition made the economic case for extending health care coverage to about 70,000 people.

When Portland-based developer Tim Soley looks at Medicaid expansion through a business lens, he sees the federal money that would flow into the state. Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. government covers about 90 percent of the cost to expand Medicaid.

In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas that has sent hundreds to Nevada hospitals, Maine Medical Center issued a written statement Monday saying its thoughts are with all those affected by the tragedy.

Hopsital officials say no health care facility can fully prepare for an event like what happened in Las Vegas, but that Maine Medical Center’s staff train regularly for mass-casualty incidents, which includes coordinating with other agencies and providers.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The fate of a Lewiston dentist accused of putting the health and safety of his patients in jeopardy likely won’t be known for several months.