Health

Health
6:05 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Mixed Outcomes from Ouster of Highmark CEO

The firing of Highmark CEO Kenneth Melani may have come at an inopportune time for the health insurer, as it prepares to take over the struggling West Penn Allegheny Health System and wages a contract war with UPMC.

Highmark was dealt a blow when Moody's Investors Services downgraded its credit rating in response to the leadership tumult. However, the co-chair of the Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee doesn't see Melani's dismissal as a major factor in contract negotiations between Highmark and UPMC.

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Health
12:58 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Melani Fired As Highmark CEO

One of the largest insurance companies in Pennsylvania has fired its chief executive officer a week after he was arrested following a fight with the husband of an employee with whom he was having an affair.

Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc. announced yesterday that the board of directors had dismissed 58 year old Kenneth Melani who had been placed on unpaid leave March 29 after he was charged with simple assault and defiant trespass.

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Health
6:52 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Social Workers Want Expanded Licensing of the Profession

More than 600 social workers gathered in Harrisburg to call for the passage of Senate Bill 922, which would provide state licenses for social workers with bachelor's degrees.

SB 922 would create "practice protection," ensuring licensed professionals meet certain criteria.

Pennsylvania State Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna County), a co-sponsor of the bill, said 43 states have "practice protection" legislation, while 34 issue licenses to social workers with a bachelor's degree.

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Health
5:40 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

O’Connor to Introduce First Bill as City Councilman – Aims to Set up HIV/AIDS Commission

First-term Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor has announced a bill that will set up a new Pittsburgh HIV/AIDS commission. The overall goal is to bring together various entities and address gaps that he says exist in the current system. One in four of those living with HIV/AIDS in the city are not being treated.

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Health
6:56 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Provision in Marcellus Shale Bill Prompts Controversy

Public health advocates and some environmental groups are crying foul over a provision in Act 13. The groups claim the wording in the law, which regulates shale drilling, amounts to a gag order for doctors when it comes to chemicals that may make people sick, but industry advocates say that's not the case.

Non-disclosure

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Health
8:02 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Pennsylvania Democrats Make Hay Over Ultrasound Bill

A state House measure that would require women to get an ultrasound before they undergo an abortion is on hold due to concerns voiced by medical groups but that has not stopped opponents from striking back against the bill.

Protesters gathered at the Capitol Monday to rally against the bill. Several political candidates were in the crowd.

"The ultrasound bill of course wouldn't affect me… I'm too old to have children," said Harriet Ellenberger, a Democrat running for a House seat in Westmoreland County. "I'm protesting the bill on behalf of younger women," she said.

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Health
4:35 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Hundreds from Pennsylvania Join Healthcare Rally in D.C.

16 buses carrying people from all over Pennsylvania made their way to the nation's capital to participate in the "Hands Off My Healthcare Rally" that's taking place as the Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

"I think most of us feel this is a direct assault on our health, our families, and on our ability to make decisions that are made for us by nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, DC," said Jennifer Stefano, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

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Health
9:09 am
Fri March 23, 2012

"ED Bill" Sponsor Hopes To Put Ultrasound Bill In Perspective

A state lawmaker who takes issue with a proposal requiring ultrasounds for women seeking abortions plans to introduce a health care bill he calls "similarly ridiculous."

The proposal by Senator Larry Farnese would require men seeking erectile dysfunction medication —like Viagra— to undergo a cardiac stress test and a prostate exam.

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Health
7:13 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Pennsylvania Water 7th Most Polluted In Nation

Industrial facilities dumped more than 10 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Pennsylvania's waterways, making the state's waterways the seventh worst in the nation, according to a new report released today by PennEnvironment.

Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act also reports that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.

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Health
5:48 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Lung Association Defends Clean Air Act

The American Lung Association is hosting "Healthy Air Day" in Pittsburgh to back the Clean Air Act as a part of the organization's Red Carriage Initiative.

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Health
7:42 am
Mon March 19, 2012

This Week is Wildfire Prevention Week

Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed this week as Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania. According to the state Bureau of Forestry, nearly 85 percent of Pennsylvania's wildfires occur from March to May.

Chris Novak, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said the amount and severity of wildfires varies depending on weather.

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Health
5:51 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Duquesne Researcher Attempting to Develop Compounds to Fight Fatal Infections

All too often a patient who has battled an aggressive sickness ends up succumbing to a simple, but ultimately fatal, infection.

"These are patients … who are undergoing chemotherapy, whose immune systems get compromised," said Dr. Aleem Gangjee of Duquesne University, "patients who are transplant recipients — their immune system is also compromised — and of course for patients who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS."

Gangjee is a medicinal chemist who, along with a team of researchers, is developing compounds that will tackle the stubborn fugnal infection.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

National Cancer Institute Studies Link Diesel Exhaust & Lung Cancer

A new study indicates exposure to heavy diesel exhaust fumes in workplace mines increases the risk of dying from lung cancer.

Mike Attfield led the initiative, titled "The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: A Cohort Mortality Study With Emphasis on Lung Cancer," [PDF] that he said aimed to improve upon previous thoughts and research.

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Health
2:49 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Amid Shale Rush, Trying to Answer Health Questions

Amy Pare is a plastic surgeon in Washington County. She makes her living doing lifts, tucks and augmentations. So it's remarkable that she finds herself in the middle of a public health debate. It started about two years ago, she says.

That's when patients started coming in with what looked like acne on their faces.

"We started to have patients that would have open areas or recalcitrant lesions, that just kind of bled, ulcerated, didn't quite heal."

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Health
5:01 am
Fri February 24, 2012

The Rate of Hospital Readmissions for Those with Infections Dropping in Pennsylvania

A new report [PDF] from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) finds that among patients who acquired a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in 2010, nearly 42% were readmitted within 30 days of discharge, 31.3% were readmitted specifically because of an infection or complication.

Among those without an HAI 16% were readmitted.

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Health
6:59 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

New Hope for Heart Patients

Patients who suffer from end-stage biventricular heart failure, a condition where both sides of the heart become weakened and can't pump blood adequately throughout the body, might have a new hope, an artificial heart implantation that surgeons say will serve as a "bridge to transplant."

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Health
11:30 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Hospital Compare Will Publish Occurence of Infection at Hospitals

A web service that helps patients view hospital quality will begin publishing data on the occurrence of infection associated with central line-associated bloodstream infections.

Hospital Compare, which provides information about the quality of care in more than 4,700 hospitals across the country, plans to publish data on the occurrence of infection at specific hospitals.

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Health
5:08 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

West Penn Hospital ER in Bloomfield to Reopen on Valentine’s Day

The emergency department at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield will reopen on Valentine's Day, after being closed for more than a year. The move comes as part of Highmark's $745 million takeover of the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS). The new facility features 23 patient beds in private rooms, all new medical equipment, and a fast track patient triage system.

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Health
8:30 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Senator Calls For Stricter Smoking Laws

Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) wants to strengthen the Clean Indoor Air Act to ban smoking in casinos and all restaurants, bars, and taverns.

In September 2008, the Clean Indoor Air Act took effect prohibiting smoking in most indoor work and public places through the state.

Under the current law, smoking is allowed in half of a total floor space in casinos, and bars can apply for exceptions to the smoking ban if they show they earn less than 20 percent of their revenues from food sales.

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Health
6:11 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Unveiling of the Giving Life Wall at UPMC

On Saturday, UPMC will dedicate the Giving Life Wall, a photomontage on permanent display at UPMC Presbyterian hospital that honors those who gave the gift of life through organ donation.

The wall is a collaborative effort between the hospital system and the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE).

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Health
9:28 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Pitt Study Finds Majority of Hookah Websites Don’t Include the Word “Tobacco”

The popularity of smoking through a hookah has been on the rise for several years, with many towns and cities having cafes or bars specifically for hookah. The National Cancer Foundation funded a study into whether or not websites that offer Hookah products are candid about their products.

The research team at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine did a systematic search of some of the most prominent Hookah Tobacco websites on the Internet.

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Health
6:44 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

CORE Courts More Donors

The Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) wants to enlist 20 million new donors this year and will devote substantial energy and resources to the national initiative.

CORE is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization that is federally designated to serve Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and parts of New York.

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Health
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Bill Would Require Ultrasounds for Women Seeking Abortion Services in Pennsylvania

The so-called Women's Right to Know Act (House Bill 1077) would require an abortion provider to do an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure. Supporters say they want to make sure women have all of the medical information necessary before making a final decision on having an abortion.

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Health
10:55 am
Sun January 29, 2012

Autism Study Sheds Light On Challenges

Information from more than 3,500 autistic adults and caregivers is included in the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment study, the largest of its kind in the nation.

Anne Bale, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) said there was a great need for information about people living with autism.

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Health
8:00 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Health Officials Consider Rules For Wood-Fired Boilers

The Allegheny County Health Department is trying to figure out how to best regulate emissions from wood-fired boilers used to heat homes. The department has been seeing an increasing number of complaints about smoke as the popularity of the devices grows. However, there weren't many residents attending a recent Board of Health public hearing on proposed regulations.

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Health
5:00 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Roe v. Wade Anniversary Sparks Rally

Two days before the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights activists gathered outside City Hall in downtown Pittsburgh today to rally against a new law that puts restrictions on abortion providers.

Governor Tom Corbett signed SB 732 into law on December 22 in response to the Dr. Kermit Gosnell incident that occurred in Philadelphia last year. Gosnell was indicted last January in the deaths of seven babies and a woman at his clinic.

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Health
10:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Group Flunks Pennsylvania on Tobacco Policy

In a "report card" released Thursday, the American Lung Association gave Pennsylvania poor grades for its policies regarding tobacco use and taxation.

Deb Brown, President of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, said the Commonwealth is "in the middle to the end of the pack" of the 50 states and Washington D.C., in the eyes of the ALA.

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Health
6:38 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Adolescent Brain Respond Differently to Rewards

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh has discovered that the adolescent brain responds differently to reward. This discovery could change what researchers know about early addiction and mental illness.

Researchers at Pitt were trying to learn if the adolescent brain processes salient events differently than the adult brain does. They found that the adolescent brain does, and that process could make them vulnerable to risky behavior and poor decision-making. It could also make them more susceptible to diseases such as addiction, schizophrenia, or eating disorders.

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Health
5:58 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Deaths from UPMC Liver Transplants Still High – Officials Say Reporting Practices to Blame

261 people received a liver transplant at UPMC between July 2008 and December 2010. Of those patients, 42 died. Nation-wide averages indicate fewer than 29 where expected to die. But, Christopher Hughes, UPMC's surgical director for liver transplants, said that's not due to negligence on the hospital's part, but rather to deficiencies in the way transplants are reported.

"If there's one thing I can criticize our program about, it's our self-reporting of data," said Hughes.

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Health
7:05 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

New Effort Aimed at Helping Ease Transition for Children with Disabilities into Adulthood

The 21 and Able initiative seeks to create a system for youth with disabilities who are transitioning out of the education and supportive services system. Currently, once a person with disabilities turns 21, they have officially "aged out" of the education system and no longer qualify for many benefits they may have had as children. That's the case with William, who will turn 21 in late January.

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