Health and health care news

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has issued an air quality alert because of climbing levels of ground-level ozone concentrations.

The agency says there will be "unhealthy'' levels along the coast from Kittery to Georgetown on Thursday. Moderate levels are also possible in the Midcoast region, the Downeast coast and the western interior of the state.

Approximately 8,800 pounds of raw beef products are being recalled due to their suspected role in an E. coli outbreak that has sickened more than a dozen people in New England — most of those cases in New Hampshire.

The products, originating from PT Farm in North Haverill, New Hampshire, were shipped to Maine and elsewhere in New England under different labels.

State Epidemiologist Siiri Bennett says the state has been working with the New Hampshire Department of Health, and so far one illness in Maine has been linked to the outbreak.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A new Maine law is about to take effect that requires the installation of locked boxes on state ferries to allow for transportation of medical samples.

The new law goes on the books on Friday. Supporters say it is designed to allow island residents to send samples to mainland hospitals and medical facilities without taking a time-consuming ferry ride.

PORTLAND, Maine — Some state health care organizations are opposing a proposed rule change by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that would provide the agency more leeway to withhold information regarding the locations of communicable disease outbreaks.

The Portland Press Herald reports that organizations including MaineHealth and the Maine Medical Association submitted comments in opposition during a public comment period that ended Monday.

Patty Wight / MPBN

In an emergency situation, first responders and doctors are typically the ones to provide immediate, life-saving help. But for survivors and witnesses of an accident or other crisis there can also be emotional trauma. And for 12 years, volunteers in Cumberland County have been stepping in to provide emotional first aid to family members and others who share the ordeal.

Just minutes after Carmen Charlton walked through the door of her Gorham home on March 22, her husband collapsed in their kitchen.

PORTLAND, Maine - Four Maine school districts and a provider of rural health care are sharing more in $1.6 million in federal funding to expand access to rural broadband and telemedicine.

The four school districts will use their U.S. Department of Agriculture money to purchase video conferencing equipment. The almost $400,000 that MaineHealth has been awarded will be used to install telehealth videoconferencing carts at six rural medical clinics and at three home health agency sites.

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — Supporters of a Maine law that called for rules for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients say they’re let down by federal legislation.

The U.S. Senate bill, passed last week, would compel companies to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs, via a text label, a symbol or an electronic code that’s readable by a smartphone.

The bill preempts Maine’s law. The U.S. House passed it Thursday.

The U.S. Senate has joined the House in passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the major bill this year in Congress aimed at fighting opioid addiction. But while it creates new programs, it is not funded.

The legislation is considered a major step to help cities and states combat the nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. The measure would expand access to treatment by allowing nurses and physician assistants to administer medication such as Suboxone.

Project Looks to Help North Haven Residents Age on Island

Jul 14, 2016
Jonathan Woodward / MPBN

The concept of helping people stay in their communities as they get older is a popular and growing movement here in the U.S. But there are added challenges for those who live, say, on an island off the coast of Maine. One island community is taking steps to respond.


According to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey, Maine is one of 11 states that has the highest prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, which can leach heavy metals like lead from old plumbing and fixtures. And that means more than half a million Mainers who rely on private wells should get their water tested.

On its own, corrosive groundwater isn’t necessarily bad, says Joe Ayotte of the USGS. It has a low pH, meaning it’s acidic.

Ann Larie Valentine / Flickr/Creative Commons

A national group of health advocates and researchers says there’s a clear link between toxic chemicals in food and everyday products and brain development disorders like autism and ADHD in children.

Maine educators, health care workers and advocates are urging political action to reduce exposure as well as action in doctors’ offices.

The University of New England has received a five-year, $2.5 million federal grant aimed at improving rural health care in Maine.

UNE Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dr. Dora Anne Mills was the grant’s chief author. She says, over the course of the grant, more than 250 UNE health profession students from several different disciplines will train together at Penobscot Community Health Care, learning the skills needed for interprofessional, team-based care.

A new national study, bolstered by state statistics, indicates young people are vaping to get nicotine, while smoking cigarettes has been going down.

The American Lung Association says a study of over 5,000 California high school seniors bolsters state data that young people are using electronic smoking, called vaping, to get a nicotine hit.

Lance Boucher, the group’s state policy director, says nicotine is just as addictive however it is used.

Terry Ross / Flickr/Creative Commons

More Maine veterans are getting medical care in a timely fashion, according to the director of the state Veterans Affairs health care system. The update comes as the national VA has come under fire in recent months for perpetual problems in ensuring veterans get appointments in days, not months.

Methadone and Suboxone providers in Maine are warning that a proposal by the state Department of Health and Human Services could exacerbate the opioid crisis in Maine and potentially drive some drug treatment clinics out of business.