Health and health care news

  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.

On this last day of the legislative session, Gov. Paul LePage submitted a bill he says will provide Maine's nursing homes with the money they need to keep their doors open for the remainder of the budget cycle. But the problem for Democratic legislative leaders is that the bill would take millions from the state's Fund for a Healthy Maine that underwrites substance abuse programs.  And as A.J. Higgins reports, they also think it's being proposed too late in the session.

Suicide Prevention

Apr 30, 2014
Suicide prevention graphic.

Suicide or thoughts of suicide, know no socio-economic, ethnic, age or geographic boundary. It can, and does impact all strata of society. How warning signs be spotted when someone may be thinking of harming himself? What resources are available for those contemplating suicide and those wanting to help? 16 years ago, the Maine Centers for Disease Control, along with many other agencies and organizations, founded the Maine Suicide Prevention Program. The aim, to take a comprehensive approach to stemming suicide in the state.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has refused to clear an emergency room physician of a woman's claim that he violated her civil rights.  The case dates back to 2007, when the patient, who has mental health issues, was detained against her will at MaineGeneral Medical Center.  As Patty Wight reports, the lawsuit raises questions about physician liability.

Crash Barry in the MPBN Portland Studios

The true story of a free-loving (and smoking) fringe community growing Maine’s most valuable crop. Author Crash Barry explores Maine's secretive marijuana subculture. Crash tells tales, based on hundreds of hours of research, of growing, harvesting and testing the product. We're talking about pot in Maine, and how legalized medical marijuana changed everything.

Parkinson's Disease

Apr 16, 2014

Chances are you know someone with Parkinson's disease. Nearly a million people in the United States are living with it, including Muhammed Ali, Michael J. Fox, Janet Reno and Linda Ronstadt. It's estimated that Parkinson's affects 7,000 people in Maine. It's a chronic and progressive movement disorder, which affects people differently.


Apr 15, 2014
Mindfulness Meditation

Explore why the art of being mindful is now embraced as a means to improve job performance, personal relationships as well as physical and mental health.

If you think of practicing mindfulness and/or meditation as something only Zen Buddhists do you're wrong. Although these practices do have ancient roots, modern research is showing they have multiple benefits, including stress reduction, lowering the heart rate, improving memory, reducing emotional responses and, some say, making practitioners more effective at work.


There's been a lot of attention paid to the consumer side of the Affordable Care Act. But the ACA is a sweeping piece of legislation, and it does a lot more than provide coverage for the uninsured. In short, the ACA seeks to reform the way health care is delivered in America. The goal is healthier patients AND lower costs, a tall order. How is Maine's health care system changing under the ACA?


  Home births, c-sections and an update on our understanding of childbirth. Learn about different options for mother and baby during pregnancy and childbirth. Learn about issues that arise during a delivery, whether at home or in the hospital, and what new moms and dads can do to make such a momentous day as safe and comfortable as possible.

Host Keith Shortall speaks with:

Dr. Jay Naliboff,an Ob/Gyn practices at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington

Jill Breen, a Certified Professional Midwife and Certified Lactation Counselor

  The latest advances in cardiovascular science in the fight against heart disease. Why are symptoms of heart disease are different in women than for men, and why New Englanders are at greater risk for cardiology disease than the rest of the country.

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Dr. Craig Brett, cardiologist at Mercy Hospital

Dr. Chae C. Choi with Northeast Cardiologist Associates

Dr. Peter Ver Lee with Northeast Cardiologist Associates


Mar 13, 2014

  Each day people consume a drug derived from a natural insecticide. That drug is caffeine and former MPBN News reporter Murray Carpenter has written a book on the subject titled Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us.

Host Keith Shortall speaks with:

Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us.

  A leading cause of death in hospitals and the number one reason for costly hospital readmissions are blood clots. It is a silent killer that now causes more deaths than breast cancer, AIDS and vehicular accidents combined.

Host Keith Shortall speaks with:

Dr. Paul Kim, Assistant Director of Vascular & Interventional Services for Spectrum Medical Group. He is on the forefront of a new DVT treatment study here in Maine.

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, Founder of the Vein Healthcare Center