Health News Today – 1/29/15

Today’s health news stories include:

  • Measles confirmed on U of M campus
  • Time to fully fund mental health services
  • New bill offers loan forgiveness to health care workers in rural MN
  • 30 years later and still fighting AIDs


Measles case confirmed at University of Minnesota (

Public health officials have confirmed a case of measles on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday measles was diagnosed in a 20-year-old male student.   Read More…


Fully fund mental health services in Minnesota (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

An important issue that will come before the 2015 legislative session is investing in Minnesota’s mental health system. Ten years ago, we would have said that our mental health system is broken. But not today. We have spent these intervening years using research and creativity to expand and create services that work. Now is the time to fully fund them and make sure that they are available throughout the state and to the extent needed, based on population.   Read More…


Lawmakers push for more doctors, nurses in rural Minnesota (

Finding a good doctor or nurse in rural Minnesota can be a difficult task, but state lawmakers want to change that.

A proposal at the Capitol would expand a program helping doctors and nurses pay off their student loans if they move to rural areas of the state.   Read More…


30 years later, Minn. doctor still opening doors in fight against AIDS (

Dr. Keith Henry still remembers the first patient he lost to AIDS.

It was late spring 1984 and a young college instructor came to Henry’s hospital with an aggressive AIDS-related pneumonia. The man’s intelligent banter impressed Henry. But before long, his patient was silenced by a ventilator. Within weeks, he was dead.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/28/15

In health news today:

  • Minnesota stays in 6th place in health ranking
  • The task of recruiting doctors to serve rural Minnesota
  • St. Jude Medical poised to return to solid growth in 2015


Minnesota sixth in overall health among states (Alexandria Echo Press)

Minnesota placed sixth among all 50 states for overall health, according to the latest edition of America’s Health Rankings, sponsored by the United Health Foundation (UHF) in partnership with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.

Minnesota dropped to sixth in 2014 after ranking third in both 2013 and 2012. However, the index shows Minnesota continues to lead the nation in the fewest cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people and ranks second in fewest days of poor physical health and second in fewest years lost due to premature death per 100,000 people.   Read More…


Editorial: Bringing doctors to rural Minnesota (Litchfield Independent)

Unlike many areas of rural Minnesota, Hutchinson, Litchfield and Glencoe have had the good fortune to attract competent doctors. But as anyone who runs a clinic or hospital knows, recruitment isn’t always easy.

A proposal at the Minnesota Legislature would change that. And remarkably, the proposal is not authored by a rural lawmaker, but by Sen. Greg Clausen, a Democrat from Apple Valley.   Read More…


St. Jude Medical meets earnings expectations (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Strong sales of devices to treat and monitor abnormal heart rhythms led St. Jude Medical, of Little Canada, to announce a 6 percent growth in adjusted full-year earnings per share.

Executives said the company is poised to return to solid sales growth in 2015 after recent sluggish performance. They brushed aside questions from investors and media about whether St. Jude should actively pursue a bolder mergers-and-acquisitions strategy in the wake of competitor Medtronic’s $49.9 billion acquisition of surgical supplier Covidien this week.   Read More…


Health News Today – 1/27/15

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Mayo Clinic uses Medtronic deep brain stimulation device to treat epilepsy
  • Judge tosses home health care worker suit
  • New bill would boost senior health care
  • Bloomington consider marijuana moratorium


At Mayo, brain device offers hope for toughest epilepsy cases (

After nine years of epileptic seizures and no success stopping them, Sheri Finstad was ready to try an experiment.

In October, she came to Rochester, where Mayo Clinic doctors implanted a device in her brain designed to deliver mild electrical pulses and record the brain’s reaction.

It’s a stimulation therapy used typically to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.   Read More…


Federal judge tosses suit aimed at halting unionization of Minnesota home health workers (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis dismissed a lawsuit Monday filed last year in an attempt to block implementation of a state law that paved the way for the unionization of Minnesota’s 27,000 home health care workers.

The suit, filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, a Virginia-based anti-union organization, represented six state health workers who provide home-care services to disabled individuals and family members.   Read More…

Column: New bill would boost health care for seniors (Worthington Daily Globe)

My dad once said, “You don’t realize you are getting older and all of a sudden, you’re there.”

The Globe has published two articles about the need for reform in nursing home funding in the last week. I would like to thank the Globe for covering this story. I wonder, however, how many people in our community really understand the importance of this issue?   Read More…

City of Bloomington to vote on blocking medical marijuana (

Bloomington will consider becoming the latest city to block sales and production of medical marijuana.

The city council is scheduled to vote on a one-year moratorium Monday. It would give Bloomington officials time to find the best way to regulate these types of facilities.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/22/15

Today’s health-related headlines in Minnesota include:

  • State smoking rate continues downward trend
  • Time to give mental health first aid care
  • Minnesota nonprofit hospitals contribute $4.2 billion
  • Inside Whole Woman’s Health clinic: private choices, public debate


Research: Minnesota’s smoking rate falls to 14.4% (News Release)

Findings from the latest Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (MATS) show that Minnesota is continuing to make progress in reducing tobacco use. Minnesota’s adult smoking rate has declined to 14.4 percent, the lowest rate ever recorded in the state and a significant decrease from 2010, the last time the rate was measured.

Conducted by ClearWay MinnesotaSM and the Minnesota Department of Health, the MATS research project is the most thorough and accurate source of information about tobacco use among Minnesotans…   Read More…


Bringing mental health first aid to Minnesota (Worthington Daily Globe)

The National Council of Behavioral Health says that it is more likely to come in contact with someone having an emotional difficulty than someone having a heart attack or choking on a piece of food in a restaurant.

However, when people typically think about first aid, they often immediately think of treating a physical ailment. The Mental Health First Aid program seeks to change that perspective.   Read More…


Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals contribute $4.2 billion in health care and programs (News Release)

Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems contributed more than $4.2 billion in programs and services in 2013 to benefit the health of their communities, an increase of 5.4 percent compared to 2012, according to the latest annual Community Benefit Report released by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA).  Read More…


Inside an abortion clinic: Private choices in public debate (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“I feel relieved,” she said, wearing a surgical gown with a fluffy blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She’s petite and pretty, with three school-aged children at home and a college exam coming up that will bring her a step closing to a nursing degree. “I felt relieved before and after, knowing I have this option.”   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/21/15

Today’s headlines:

  • U of M study finds people mostly ignorant about costs of health care for seniors
  • MN Dept. of Health surveys for medical marijuana demand
  • Sick with the flu? Just stay home
  • 83,000 Minnesotans suffering from chronic pain: MDH study


Study: People mostly ignorant or wrong about old age health care costs (

A recent study from the University of Minnesota shows that middle-aged adults underestimate the likelihood that they’ll need long-term health care services as they grow older.

The study included about 12,000 responses collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. It’s the largest study to focus on the issue of health care expectations.  Read More…


Minnesota Department of Health surveying demand for medical marijuana (Grand Forks Herald)

The Minnesota Department of Health is rolling out an online survey to get a better idea of the potential medicinal marijuana landscape in the state.

From Tuesday until Feb. 6, Minnesotans with qualifying medical conditions can answer several questions that will give medicinal marijuana program planners a better idea of the demand across the state.   Read More…


Winter Health Care: Fight influenza, other viruses, by staying home when ill (

With the state in the midst of a particularly tough influenza season, health officials are urging Minnesotans to protect themselves and others by staying home when they are ill.

The latest weekly influenza report published by the Minnesota Department of Health shows influenza activity continuing at a high level in the state. Outbreaks in long-term care facilities are increasing, hospitalizations due to influenza remain high, and schools continue to see absences due to influenza-like illness.   Read More…



MDH: 83k seek chronic pain treatment (

A report from the Minnesota Department of Health reveals that about 83,000 Minnesotans undergo procedures to treat chronic pain each year.

The three-year study conducted by the MDH utilized the All Payer Claims Database, created in 2008 under the Tim Pawlenty administration.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/20/15

In today’s health news headlines from around Minnesota:

  • Health care contributes mightily to busting state’s budget
  • Analysis shows health care law is working
  • Med device tax repeal might benefit companies in more ways than one
  • Study sheds little light on nurse staffing numbers


Minnesota’s budget busters include K-12, health care (Duluth News Tribune)

When Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes a budget later this month, he’s likely to talk a lot about transportation, workforce development and child care tax credits.

But the shape of his budget already will have been determined by a long, slow process: the gradual, inexorable domination of Minnesota’s spending by K-12 education and health care programs.  Read More…


Four charts that show the health care law is working (

The Affordable Care Act appears to be doing what it was supposed to do, a new report says.

The Commonwealth Fund’s health care annual report says fewer Americans are reporting being burdened by the cost of accessing health care.   Read More…


Tax repeal could give medical firms double windfall (

Republicans and many Democrats in Congress want to repeal the roughly $3 billion-a-year tax on medical devices that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Undoing the tax will mean a big boost in profits for the industry.

But there’s another business windfall buried in the bills that Congress is considering. Not only would the future tax be repealed, but the taxes already collected would be refunded. Any company that had paid the tax would get its money back.   Read More…


For Minnesota nurses, staffing study provides few answers (Rochester Post-Bulletin) 

A long-awaited study on nurse staffing levels at Minnesota hospitals has prompted fresh division between nurses and their employers.

The Minnesota Nurses Association had hoped the state’s study would help nail down firm patient-to-nurse ratios. But the research didn’t find cause and effect in staffing levels and patient outcomes.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/15/15

In today’s health news:

  • DFL bill eliminates MNsure board; creates state department to manage exchange
  • Spread of Ebola still a concern for MN’s infectious disease director
  • A pacemaker for the stomach; St. Paul-based EnteroMedicss obesity device approved by FDA


MNsure board would be eliminated under DFL proposal (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Senate DFLers have introduced a bill that would eliminate the MNsure board, and create a new state department to manage Minnesota’s health insurance exchange.

Coupled with MNsure legislation last week from leaders of the new Republican majority in the House, the bill from top Senate Democrats helps establish the terms of debate over reforming the health exchange during this year’s legislative session.   Read More…

As anxiety wanes, Minnesota keeps eyes out for Ebola spread (

The nation’s anxiety about Ebola may have subsided since its early-fall peak, but Minnesota health officials told lawmakers Wednesday they’re “not out of the woods yet” when it comes to tracking the possible spread of the deadly virus.

The state has cleared 216 travelers returning from the West African countries that have been most affected by the virus, and another 47 travelers were being watched for symptoms as of Sunday. That work will continue until the disease has been wiped out in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said. It could be another year or more.   Read More…


FDA approves EnteroMedics’ novel device to treat obesity (Reuters)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it has approved a new device to treat obesity, the first since 2007, sending shares of its maker, (St. Paul-based) EnteroMedics Inc, up as much as 74 percent.

Known as the Maestro Rechargeable System, the device controls hunger and feelings of fullness by targeting the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/14/15

Today’ headlines:

  • MN faced with some of the largest race and ethnic health inequities
  • Give Kids a Smile event scheduled for Feb. 6-7


Minnesota has major racial and ethnic health inequities, report finds (

Minnesota may consistently appear at or near the top of various national health performance scorecards, but not all people in the state are equally likely to see themselves reflected in those high rankings.

In fact, Minnesota has some of the largest racial, ethnic and geographic inequities in health status and incidence of chronic disease in the country, according to a report released Monday by MN Community Measurement, a nonprofit that works to improve health care in the state by collecting, assessing and publishing health data.   Read More…


Free dental care available to kids in need, Feb. 6-7 (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Dentists across Minnesota will provide free dental care for children in need at the annual Give Kids a Smile event next month.

Services will be available for up to 6,000 children at more than 200 dental offices on Feb. 6 and 7. Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/13/15

In today’s health news from around Minnesota:

  • Otter Tail County receives $370k as an Accountable Community for Health
  • MNsure struggles (again) with website hiccup


County named one of 12 Accountable Communities for Health (Fergus Falls Daily Journal)

Otter Tail County is one of a dozen communities in Minnesota which are getting a unique opportunity to participate in a new state program intended to bolster community education initiatives.

Minnesota’s State Innovation Model selected Fergus Falls and the surrounding area as the recipient of a $370,000 grant as part of being one of 12 Accountable Communities for Health, or ACH. The grant funds will support local efforts to promote health and improve health care by strengthening clinical and community partnerships.   Read More…

MNsure website flaw keeps 7,500 people from enrolling (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A prob­lem with the MNsure sys­tem has pre­vent­ed about 7,500 peo­ple from en­rol­ling in public health in­sur­ance programs, state of­fi­cials said Mon­day, as they de­scribed what ap­pears to be the larg­est tech­nol­o­gy glitch of the cur­rent open en­roll­ment pe­riod.

The state Department of Hu­man Services has dedi­cat­ed 30 employees to help peo­ple af­fect­ed by the snag and ex­pects to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion in about 10 days.   Read More…

Health News Today – 1/12/15

Today’s health headlines include:

  • High OOP costs fuel retail clinic growth
  • Fitbit might be the right health tracker for you


High out-of-pocket costs fueling retail clinic growth (Minnesota Public Radio)

When Chelsi Carlson thought she might have picked up an eye infection at the daycare where she works, she didn’t call her doctor. She went to MinuteClinic, a walk-in health clinic.

Not long ago, Chelsi would have had to go to a doctor’s office, an urgent care, or an emergency room for a check on something common such as strep throat.

But these days, treatment is widely available at pharmacies, grocery stores and discount retailers. For many consumers, the convenient option comes at the right time, given dramatic increases in out-of-pocket health care costs.  Read More…


Getting the right health tracker for you (

Many people started the New Year with a new goal of getting into shape. There are so many tools now to help you track your progress, like Fitbits.

Fitbits are just one brand of a device that tracks daily physical activity, weight and goals, by syncing with an app on your smart phone or tablet.   Read More…