The Pulse

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

 

 

 

Key activist group sees flaws in state health plan

Last week, when upcoming changes in the state employee and teacher health plan were announced, they drew a generally positive response.

Healthcare CostMembers learned that the 2015 plan would include an increased choice of insurers, which was welcome, and officials presented information showing that many members would see no premium increase.

But after studying the proposed rates in greater detail, a group representing teachers, employees and retirees is voicing concern. It says many of the new options will be unaffordable for members looking to switch from their current plans. full story

Weight wars: Bake sale showdown set for Thursday

The battle over snack foods sold at Georgia school fundraisers will come down to a vote Thursday.

That’s when the state Board of Education will decide whether to give schools a series of exemptions from a federal requirement that prohibits the sale of high-calorie sweets and high-fat and high-sodium foods during fundraisers held during school hours.

glazed

The fundraiser rule is among federal standards required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which sought to make school foods healthier by reducing sodium and increasing whole grains and servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The American Heart Association is urging the state Board of Education to reject the proposed fundraiser exemptions. According to the School Nutrition Association, 30 states have opted not to allow the sale of unhealthy foods, such as cookies, candy and doughnuts, at on-campus fundraisers. They include several Southeastern states such as Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina.

The 30 exemptions that Georgia is proposing — worth up to three days each, or a total of 90 days — would allow the state to have “the worst, weakest policy in the nation,’’ says Marsi Thrash, government relations director for the Heart Association in Georgia.

“At AHA, we believe that prevention of cardiovascular disease can never start too early. And selling unhealthy food to kids to raise money is just wrong.”

State Superintendent John Barge, though, has a starkly different view. He has called the federal requirements on fundraisers “asinine.” full story

Around the State

Gwinnett: Abuse charges

A Lawrenceville woman is accused of confining her 15-year-old malnourished, autistic daughter in a closet. 

Read the full article:
Gwinnett Daily Post

Albany: Hospital update

While given a financial picture of Phoebe Putney, the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County was also updated on a medical student housing project.

Read the full article:
Albany Herald

Emory to release Ebola patient

Dr. Kent Brantly, one of two Americans undergoing treatment in Atlanta for the Ebola virus, will be released today.

Read the full article:
WABE

Cobb: Northside gets OK

The Cobb Board of Commissioners has approved the rezoning necessary to allow Northside Hospital to build a 80,000-square-foot medical office building in east Cobb.

Read the full article:
Atlanta Business Chronicle/Marietta Daily Journal

Columbus: Whistleblower suit

Richard Barker alleges in a federal whistleblower suit that a Columbus cancer center and its physicians repeatedly and knowingly overbilled government insurers.

Read the full article:
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Read more here: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2014/08/20/3257614_attorneys-in-john-b-amos-cancer.html?sp=/99/100/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

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