The Pulse

Freestanding ERs target suburbs, rural panel told

Freestanding emergency departments have been proposed in Georgia as a potential solution for struggling rural hospitals, or newly closed ones, that want to remain operational in downsized form to help patients in need.

Healthcare CostBut the trend toward such standalone emergency rooms nationally is totally different from that picture, members of the Georgia Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee were told Monday.

Freestanding EDs are actually proliferating in suburban areas, targeting high-income patients who have private insurance, said Charles Horne of accounting firm Draffin & Tucker. The prevailing emphasis is on patient convenience, not need, he told committee members at a meeting in Cordele.

Earlier this year, Gov. Nathan Deal backed a change in state licensing rules that would permit a stand-alone emergency department and some other services in rural areas that have a financially ailing – or closed – hospital.

But so far, no organization has applied to create such a facility in the state.

Meanwhile, four rural hospitals have closed in the past two years in Georgia, and others are having severe financial problems. full story

Hotline helps connect Georgians to benefits

“My medicines cost $200 per month. I wasn’t able to get them although I had had two prior heart attacks. Now I can get my medication because of . . . Medicaid. I would have given up without your help.”

The person quoted above is one of hundreds of Georgians helped by a benefits hotline run by the Georgia Legal Services Program.

220px-Cisco7960GThe program has operated at a time that Georgians have faced “incredible barriers getting through to DFCS” to receive benefits, says Vicky Kimbrell of GLSP.

DFCS has suffered backlogs over the past year in applicants getting both food stamps and Medicaid coverage. The agency phone number has been overwhelmed with demand, Kimbrell says, after it switched over to an online system for benefits renewals and notices.

“Seniors and people with low incomes don’t have access to computers,’’ says Callan Wells of Georgia Legal Services, who helps run the hotline. “They are asking that renewals be completed online. Homebound seniors without computers are disadvantaged by that system.” full story

Released Ebola patients see an answer to prayers

Richard Furman recently received a grim phone call from a physician in Liberia.

The doctor gave an update about medical missionary Dr. Kent Brantly, who had been stricken with the Ebola virus in the West African nation.

Dr.-Kent-Brantly-news-conference

Dr. Kent Brantly (in blue shirt) addresses the media Thursday at Emory. Photo from Samaritan’s Purse

The physician didn’t think Brantly would survive, said Furman, a retired surgeon who’s on the board of directors of the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, where Brantly worked. Furman said the doctor “thought he [Brantly] was gone.”

On Thursday, Dr. Furman celebrated Brantly’s recovery while seated among journalists during an emotional news conference at Emory University Hospital, where Brantley’s discharge was announced.

Fellow Ebola patient Nancy Writebol, who also caught the disease while working as a medical missionary in Liberia, was released Tuesday from Emory, officials said. Writebol had requested no announcement be made when her discharge occurred, Emory said.

Their release poses “no public health threat,’’ said Dr. Bruce Ribner, an Emory infectious disease specialist who addressed the media.

Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, show no evidence of Ebola, said Ribner. full story

Board allows exemptions for bake sale fundraisers

In a decision that weighed federal school nutrition regulations against local districts’ efforts to raise funds, a state board has come down on the side of local autonomy.

John Barge

John Barge

By a 9-to-1 vote Thursday, the Georgia Board of Education approved giving schools a series of exemptions from a federal requirement that prohibits the sale of high-calorie, high-fat and high-sodium foods during fundraisers held during school hours.

The dispute had shaped up as a “bake sale battle” because calorie-laden sweets have long been staples of such fundraisers.

The board first heard testimony from opponents of the proposal to allow as many as 30 exemptions from the healthy food fundraiser policy – which could add up to a total of 90 days per school year.

The opponents gave passionate arguments against the proposed policy.

Marsi Thrash of the American Heart Association’s Georgia chapter said the exemption proposal “puts revenues over children’s health.” She noted that Georgia has a high rate of child obesity, and that obese children are more at risk of becoming obese adults. full story

Commentary: A life-or-death issue for children

On the last day of the 2014 General Assembly session, political differences blocked legislation on medical marijuana for children with seizure disorders.

Abe Hopkins

Abe Hopkins

The bill was introduced by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who was inspired by the plight of children with intractable seizures whose condition has been helped significantly by marijuana derivatives such as cannabidiol oil.

In a new Commentary, Peake writes of the fate of Abe Hopkins, 6, who had a seizure disorder. “The Hopkins family worked to help pass the bill, and when it failed, they prayed that Abe would not have that final, fatal seizure before the next session in January 2015.’’ Peake says.

“Tragically, he did.”

Peake emphasizes the need for another legislative effort next year – and points out that a study committee on medical cannabis will be holding meetings in various locales over the next few weeks.

Here’s a link to his Commentary.

 

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at amiller@georgiahealthnews.com

 

 

 

Consumer Corner

CDC study links e-cigarettes, tobacco

Adolescents who vape are much more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes.

Around the State

Reviewing child welfare

The state agencies that oversee the licensing and inspection of Georgia’s child welfare providers have proposed changes to how they review facilities each year.

Read the full article:
WABE

$1 million grant to fight Ebola

The CDC Foundation has received a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fight the West African Ebola outbreak.

Read the full article:
Atlanta Business Chronicle

Atlanta: No AC, hot water

Many people living in a southwest Atlanta apartment complex claim they haven’t had air conditioning or hot water for days.

Read the full article:
wsbtv.com

Georgia DUI campaign

Law enforcement officials in six states are launching their 23rd annual “Hands Across the Border” campaign aimed at catching motorists driving under the influence.

Read the full article:
Associated Press

Fight against depression

A Newnan Times-Herald reporter discusses her battle against depression.

Read the full article:
Newnan Times-Herald

Sponsorships



University of Georgia College of Public Health Logo





















(Click on the logo for more information about our sponsors.)





Foundation Support for GHN:

Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Kaiser Permanente
Reynolds Charitable Fund
Georgia Health Foundation