Health

Health
7:00 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Law Requires Dental Insurance to Cover General Anesthesia for Some Patients

A bill passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and signed by Governor Tom Corbett requires insurance companies to cover the cost of general anesthesia for young children and patients with disabilities.

"If they can't be handled in a normal dental setting then their situation just gets worse and worse and worse, and then you have to deal with infection and all sorts of things that have occurred because a small cavity wasn't taken care of," said Dr. Bernie Dishler, president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association.

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Health
5:00 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Child Abuse Signs and Signals

Thursday's report by Judge Louis Freeh encouraged citizens to be more agressive in reporting sexual abuse. Joan Mills, manager of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System's "A Child's Place," said she hopes it encourages people to speak up about suspicions they might have.

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Health
5:30 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Highmark Stresses Low Readmission Rates

Come fall, the federal government's Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) agencies will no longer provide incentives for hospitals with low numbers of patients who are readmitted to the hospital after 30 days of discharge. Despite that, Highmark is continuing an emphasis on low readmission rates by requiring the majority of hospitals participating in its pay-for-performance Quality Blue plan to report readmission numbers in 2013.

Page Babbit, Director of Provider Engagement at Highmark, said the program has many goals, but a main purpose is reducing readmissions.

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Health
12:30 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

State Cuts Funding for Allegheny County Health Department

The Allegheny County Health Department stands to lose more than $625,000 in state funding this budget year.

The state's allocations to municipal health departments across the state were all cut by the same percentage, according to ACHD Acting Director Ron Voorhees. The impending cuts would amount to about 1.6% of ACHD's yearly budget of $46.6 million.

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Health
8:45 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Federal Government Concerned over Pennsylvania's Dropping Medicaid Rolls

The federal government is asking why Pennsylvania's Medicaid rolls have dropped over the past year, and is suggesting that some people might have been kicked off improperly. Carey Miller, spokeswoman for the PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW), said the belief is that the department is in compliance with the federal rules in regards to the redetermination of clients enrolled in the Medicaid program.

"We do not believe that there have been any terminations in error, but will continue to review and fix any errors that we are made aware of," said Miller.

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Health
8:45 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

County Air Toxics Guidelines Opened for Public Comment

The Allegheny County Board of Health postponed a vote on new air pollution regulations on Wednesday, in order to open the measure for public comments.

For newly permitted sites only, the proposed "air toxics" regulations would govern any potentially harmful industrial emissions not already restricted by the federal Clean Air Act. While the rules don't apply to existing facilities, current air quality conditions would be taken into account when determining if a new site would harm public health.

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Health
6:00 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Low Water Levels Force Some Areas To Close At Youghiogheny Lake

An unusually dry season has caused water in the Youghiogheny Lake to drop five feet below the normal level, forcing some recreational areas to close sooner than expected. The Mill Run Recreational Area is expected to close this week, while the Tub Run Camping Area will more than likely close next week.

Werner Loehlein, Chief of Water Management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Pittsburgh region, said minimal snowfall this past year has been a contributing factor to the low water levels.

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Health
5:15 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Seven Allegheny County Communities Join Young Lungs At Play Program

Seven more communities in the Pittsburgh area have banned tobacco and smoking in their parks, playgrounds, and other recreational areas. Currently, 34 of the 130 municipalities in Allegheny County are a part of the Young Lungs at Play program.

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Health
7:00 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Study Shows Moderate Alcohol Consumption Enhances Social Bonding

The next time someone suggests going out for a drink, you may want to take them up on their offer because it could improve your friendship. A new study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh reveals moderate alcohol consumption in a social setting can increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions while enhancing bonding among peers.

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Health
7:00 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Protesters Line Up Outside New UPMC Facility

Even though their community hospital is gone, Braddock residents gathered outside the new UPMC East hospital in Monroeville today to protest the facility's grand opening. The protesters complain that the old Braddock hospital was closed to make way for the new hospital. They see it as swapping healthcare for poor and minorities in exchange for healthcare for well-off suburbanites.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Motorcycle Ride to Raise Awareness of Need for Organ Donors

A sizeable caravan of bikers will motor from West Mifflin to Morgantown later this month for "Operation Pledge-for-Life," a motorcycle ride to raise awareness of the need for organ donors.

The not-for-profit Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) is hosting the event for the second year running.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

UPMC Opens New Hospital in Monroeville

Today, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is opening a new 156-bed hospital in Monroeville. UPMC expects the facility to create a few hundred new jobs.

The new $250 million UPMC East hospital is about a mile away from the Forbes Regional Medical Center run by UPMC's rival, West Penn Allegheny Health System.

UPMC East President Mark Sevco said it was not built to compete with Forbes Regional. "Our focus isn't on Forbes at all. It's about spreading out and smoothing the demand for UPMC services across our system," said Sevco.

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Health
7:20 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Salt And Ice Challenge Injures Local Boy

A popular but dangerous "dare" among teenagers has come to Pittsburgh with potentially scarring results. Doctors at the West Penn Burn Center this week treated their first patient suffering from injuries due to a so-called "salt and ice challenge."

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Health
5:30 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

As the 4th of July Nears, Medical Experts Warn of Danger Posed by Fireworks

Every year thousands of people across the U.S. are injured by fireworks. The vast majority of those injuries occur between June 18 and July 18. Law enforcement officials and doctors warn that even seemingly harmless fireworks you can buy from road-side stands are explosive devices and can be dangerous.

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Health
1:45 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Speculation Grows on AdultBasic Court Case

A recent opinion handed down by the Commonwealth Court could signal problems with the way the state eliminated its low-cost health insurance program last year. A group of former enrollees of AdultBasic sued over how it was set to zero. Legislators used a provision in a budget-related bill called the "fiscal code" to make the change.

The court hasn't heard that case or ruled on it, but the opinion has overruled part of the state's preliminary objections to the lawsuit, signaling the way AdultBasic was slashed could still be deemed unconstitutional.

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Health
6:21 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

UPMC Study Explores Ingesting Amniotic Fluid in Premature Mice

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Children's Hospital doctor David Hackam conducted a 34-week study on mice that could be a breakthrough for the cause, treatment, and prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a disease in which the intestines die in babies born prematurely. Hackam's findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that when premature baby mice were fed amniotic fluid, it reduced the risk of NEC.

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Health
5:15 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Premature Deaths Result of Lack of Healthcare Coverage

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.3% of Americans and 12.2% of Pennsylvanians were without health insurance in 2010. The report, "Dying For Coverage," just released by Families USA, indicates 745 Pennsylvania residents died prematurely in the same year because they did not have proper health care coverage, with approximately 14 dying per week.

Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said people may feel discouraged to seek help when looking at their financial situations.

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Health
7:00 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Improving the Quality of the Cure for Child Cancer

Every year, around 10,400 children are diagnosed with cancer, and thanks to one health care group's approach to care, the large majority of them will survive the disease. The group is applying the same methods to improving the long-term behavioral outcomes of kids who undergo treatment.

"Meet Bob!"

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Health
2:00 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot?

In Pittsburgh, it's rare that heat reaches a point of danger, but the Allegheny County Health Department is advising the public to be sure to stay cool and hydrated during the next several days because the temperature will be reaching 90┬║ F and above.

Health Department Director Ronald Voorhees said certain people, such as the elderly, those with heart and lung conditions, or others engaging in outdoor activity, may be especially prone to heat exhaustion or stroke.

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Health
7:15 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Popular Weight-Loss Surgeries Increase Risk of Developing Alcohol Disorders

People who have undergone weight-loss surgery have a greater chance of developing alcohol disorders, according to new research released by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. This is the first study conducted that directly links these procedures and alcoholism.

Patients from ten hospitals across the United States participated in the study. About 70% underwent RYGB, a type of bariatric surgery, while 25% had laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, and the remaining 5% were treated with one of three less popular surgeries.

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Health
6:15 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Reprieve Period for Abortion Clinics Underway

Act 122, or the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law, passed in December 2011, was to have been enforced today, but providers have received some additional time to comply. TRAP requires surgical abortion clinics to abide by the same regulations as freestanding surgical centers. If they failed to do so by June 19, either they were given a temporary license or could not operate.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon June 18, 2012

VA To Hire More Mental Health Workers

In the next few months, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare system will be hiring approximately 42 new mental healthcare workers.

The VA will be bringing on clinicians and support staff to assist the ever-growing number of veterans who seek and require mental health help.

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Health
6:54 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Highmark, Jefferson Medical Center Hope to Enter "Strategic Partnership"

It isn't a rescue, a takeover, or a merger, according to Highmark interim CEO and Board Chairman J. Robert Baum.

However, the Pittsburgh-based health insurer wants to provide at least $275 million to the Jefferson Regional Medical Center and its foundation in return for effective control of Jefferson's Board of Directors.

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Health
4:00 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Pittsburgh Paramedics Reject Contract Offer; Strike Authorized

The local paramedics union has voted down a contract offer from the city of Pittsburgh, and authorized a strike.

The contract offer was rejected overwhelmingly with a vote of 134-9. Local 1 of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics said it will continue to negotiate in good faith with the Ravenstahl administration to prevent a strike.

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Health
10:00 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Wrong-Site Surgeries and Falls Significantly Decreased As Result Of Prevention Program

Wrong-site surgery and harmful fall prevention tactics appear to be working. According to the June Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory, there has been a decline in the number of reports filed. Wrong-site procedures occur when surgeons operate on a body part other than that intended.

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