Health and health care news

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.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has introduced a bill designed to relieve some of the burdens faced by those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Collins says that as the elder population of the U.S. burgeons, more families will face dementia and the considerable costs that come with it.

“Last year caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s shouldered $10.2 billion in health care costs related to the physical and emotional effects of caregiving,” she says.

Maine will receive a small share in the $25 million in Centers for Disease Control funding to combat the Zika virus.

Maine State Epidemiologist Siiri Bennett says while the mosquitoes that transmit the virus are not found in Maine, the state will get $176,000 for laboratory support.

“We do have a lot of Mainers who do travel down to areas where there is active transmission, that do have the mosquitoes that carry Zika virus, and when they come back they may have symptoms or want to be tested,” she says. “So these supplies are to help us do that testing.”

A federally funded grant is helping Maine’s four Indian tribes implement a new drug program to confront opioid abuse.

Five tribal clinics are now offering take-home naloxone programs to provide abusers with access to the drug, which reverses the effects of an overdose caused by prescription opioids and heroin.

Clare Desrosiers, executive director of Diversion Alert and a partner in the tribal drug program, says all four Maine tribes see a critical need for access to naloxone, also known as Narcan.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Our identity is expressed in many ways, from the clothes we wear and to the way we do our hair to the traits we’re born with, like our voice. Voice communicates our thoughts and emotions. But what if you lose your ability to speak?

Is it possible that human beings may soon live to the age of 150? One of the nation’s leading longevity researchers says “absolutely.”

Dr. Steven Austad is speaking at the MDI Biological Lab at 7 p.m. Thursday. You can hear the entire Maine Calling interview with Dr. Austad and Dr. Aric Rogers by clicking here.

Sanford police responded to six suspected opioid overdoses last weekend, including one death.

The overdoses all took place from Friday to Saturday within about a half a square mile of each other. Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly says he suspects that the people who overdosed all purchased heroin from the same individual, and that it was laced with fentanyl, a highly potent narcotic.

Connolly says the spate is a reminder that the state needs to provide more access to medication assisted treatment.

Patty Wight / MPBN

The need for dental care in Maine is overwhelming. According to the state Center for Disease Control, only half of Maine adults have dental insurance. That’s about the same number who have also lost at least one permanent tooth for reasons other than trauma or orthodontia.