Health and health care news

  Just what is "alternative medicine" and what is its relationship to traditional medicine? There are numerous health care practices, products and therapies, which fall outside what is taught at established medical schools or used in conventional medicine. Examples of alternative medicine include homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, energy medicine and acupuncture.

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Liz Strawbridge, family medicine physician specializing in integrative medicine

Chris Haskell, licensed acupuncturist with Rocky Coast Acupuncture

Maine Communities Adopting 'Project Lifesaver'

Jun 5, 2014
Tom Porter / MPBN

The tragic case last month of Jaden Dremsa highlights the dangers facing autistic children who wander from home - particularly in overwhelmingly rural and sparsely populated states like Maine. The Waterboro teenager, who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, disappeared May 8, prompting a massive search. His body was found in a nearby lake nine days later. There are estimated to be more than 3,000 children and young adults in Maine listed as having an autism spectrum disorder.

What goes up, as they say, must come down. But the law of gravity doesn't necessarily apply to insurance premiums. Next year, Maine insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act's online Marketplace will generally go up, but far less than expected.

Forty-one percent. One-hundred percent. Four-hundred percent. These were some of the projections on how much insurance premiums would rise on the individual insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

In Vitro Fertilization

Jun 4, 2014

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. What, if any, are the risks? What is the latest news on helping those who struggle to get pregnant?

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Dr. Ben Lannon, medical director at Boston IVF

Anne Brennan Belden MS,PCC, Fertility & Adoption Coach

According to newly released federal data, Maine ranks 17 percent below the national average in Medicare expenditures. While some hold up the report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as evidence of low hospital costs in Maine, health policy advocates say the numbers may not be as promising as they seem.

The latest research on helping people to hear or hear better. Learn the latest on our understanding of why we lose our hearing, what we can be done to prevent hearing loss, and how new technologies, including cochlear implants and smart phones, are helping the hearing impaired.

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Dr. Matthew Hearst, MD; otolaryngology surgeon at MKM ENT Assoc, division of Mercy Hospital

Cathy Janelle, Speech Pathologist; hear ME now, who works with adults with cochlear implants after implant surgery

Patty Wight / MPBN

For decades, the best way to get good health insurance in the U.S. has been through the workplace. But with the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, health insurance doesn't have to be tied to a job anymore. It's allowing some people to escape so-called "job lock" - saying with a job purely for the health benefits. And while critics of the ACA worry that the law will encourage companies to cut staff and hours to avoid insurance mandates, some Maine workers say new insurance options have freed them to pursue their career ambitions.

Midcoast Hospital Merger Faces Setback

May 31, 2014

Plans to merge two midcoast hospitals received a possible setback this week. On Tuesday, the state's Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew issued a letter approving the merger of Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta and St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay -- on the condition that a 24-hour urgent care facility is re-established on the Boothbay peninsula.

There is one place in Maine where individuals with mental illness can stay overnight, surrounded by peer support, when they're in emotional distress. The Learning and Recovery Center in Brunswick serves as an alternative to emergency rooms and crisis centers. But after 10 years, the Center will close at the end of June due to a lack of funding. Some advocates fear the trend could continue.

The Learning and Recovery Center offers peer services to those with mental illness. That means everyone who works at the center has struggled with mental wellness.

Sex Ed

May 28, 2014

  It's the conversation many parents, and their children, dread having: reproduction and sexual education. Learn ways to broach the topic of sex and talk about it.

Patty Wight / MPBN

When you're admitted to a hospital, the hope is that you will get better. But according to the Journal of Patient Safety, as many as 440,000 people every year die because of medical errors. That would make medical error the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. These statisitics, combined with incentives under the Affordable Care Act to improve quality, are prompting medical schools to teach students to work in teams. But the new model requires the tearing down of the traditional hierarchy in the world of medical care.

  What you need to know about detecting, preventing and treating a stroke. People who have experienced a stroke and receive emergency medical treatment within three hours of the event have less disability after three months than those whose care was delayed. But what are the warning signs? At what age should we really start to pay attention? And can we take steps to prevent a stroke from happening in the first place?=

Host Keith Shortall speaks with:
Eileen Hawkins, PenBay Stroke Program Coordinator
Dr. John Belden, neurologist at Maine Medical Partners

Nick Woodward / MPBN

It's no secret that Maine's more than 100 nursing homes have been chronically underfunded. MaineCare pays the bills for about 70 percent of nursing home patients. But MaineCare rates don't cover the full cost of nursing care. And at some nursing homes, the shortage has become so serious that several have warned that they may have to close. Gov. Paul LePage and lawmakers can't agree on how to address the $12 million problem. In the meantime, nursing homes are struggling to provide shelter, food, and treatment for Maine's oldest citizens.

We've all heard about first aid training to help someone in physical distress. Whether someone is bleeding, choking, or unconscious, there's an established protocol for such emergencies. But what if someone is in mental distress? That's an area that's a bit murkier. There’s a movement to train citizens in Mental Health First Aid, and today about 20 Mainers had their first lesson.

According to the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain affects about 100 million U.S. adults - more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined.  Opioids are a commonly-prescribed treatment, but addiction and abuse of these narcotics is skyrocketing.  A new pilot program in Maine aims to help primary care practices better help their patients manage chronic pain and safely prescribe opioids in what some call the "wild west of chronic disease."  Patty Wight reports.