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Children's Health

State developing registry for cannabis oil

The state Department of Public Health said Tuesday that it is working hard on getting a registration process ready for potential users of medical cannabis oil in Georgia.

Rep. Allen Peake

Rep. Allen Peake

The registry is created by House Bill 1, which allows some Georgians with medical conditions to have access to medical cannabis. The measure establishes a process whereby patients with one of eight diagnoses, and a recommendation from a doctor, would register for cannabis oil use with Public Health.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law in mid-April. Public Health has up to 60 days to establish the registry and to issue cards to the public.

Shawn Ryan, a spokesman for Public Health, said Tuesday that 13 temporary cannabis cards have been issued. “Temporary cards are not widely available,” Ryan emphasized after the agency board meeting Tuesday.

Most have gone to Georgia families with children in Colorado, he said. full story

Where you’re born can shorten your life

Children born just a few miles apart in Atlanta can have life expectancies that vary by more than 10 years, an analysis shows.

A child born in the 30305 ZIP Code in the affluent Buckhead district can be expected to live to age 84, according to a map recently created by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers.

But across I-75 in northwest Atlanta, a child in the 30318 ZIP Code would have an average life expectancy of 72 years.

Such dramatic differences are not unique to Atlanta, says Steve Woolf, director of VCU’s Center on Society and Health, which has also produced maps on New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and Richmond.

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While the Atlanta map is by ZIP Code, the map in Richmond uses census tract information, and shows an even more dramatic split in life expectancy — 20 years.

“We view [the maps] as a conversation starter, to help dramatize the differences in health in urban areas,” Woolf says.  More attention should be paid to conditions that affect socioeconomic well-being, he adds.  full story

Georgia teams up with its neighbors to help kids

The children’s home in Columbus was infested with cockroaches. Trash and cigarette butts littered the floor, which had holes in it as well.

The DFCS staff in Muscogee County immediately recognized that the three young kids were in an unsafe environment.

Muscogee County

Muscogee County

The children’s grandmother, who lived across the Chattahoochee River in Phenix City, Ala., was willing to take them in. But her home, though nearby, was not in Georgia. And in many parts of the nation, vulnerable children are not relocated across state lines.

Fortunately, thanks to a cross-border child welfare agreement between Georgia and Alabama, the placement was made within hours. The grandmother came and picked up the kids, who ranged in age from 1 to 7. Their mother received help, and within 45 days, the children were able to return home to her in Columbus.

The agreement to place some vulnerable Georgia children in Alabama — and some Alabama children in Georgia — is unprecedented in its scope, officials say.

Niesha Robinson, director of child welfare in Muscogee, in describing the case of the three kids, tells GHN, “If we don’t have an active border agreement, these kids would have gone into foster care.’’ full story

Buzzy: A new approach to fighting needle pain

Dr. Amy Baxter started thinking anew about the problem of pain when her son Max, then 4, had what she calls a “horrible’’ experience getting a group of four shots. He was hurting a lot, and it showed.

“I was embarrassed and angry,’’ Baxter recalls. “He became afraid of doctors.”

Dr. Amy Baxter with Buzzy

Dr. Amy Baxter with Buzzy

Baxter, a pediatric emergency physician and a pain researcher, later had a moment of discovery while driving home one day. She noticed that the steering wheel vibration from unbalanced tires temporarily made her hand numb.

Baxter got the idea of combining the vibration effect with a frozen gel pack accessory. She eventually created a new device called Buzzy.

The battery-powered, palm-sized device uses vibration — and cold — to block the action of pain nerves. The aim is to dull or eliminate sharp pain when patients receive shots or other types of injections, get their blood drawn or have to prick their own fingers. It can also offer pain relief from arthritis, injuries due to overuse of muscles, and minor aches, Baxter says.

The buzz on Buzzy has been positive: Clinicians say children and adults appreciate the device’s effect on needle pain.

Coincidentally or not, sales of Buzzy in U.S. hospitals are rising just as Medicare and health insurers are putting more emphasis on patient satisfaction. full story

State’s air quality better, but still worrisome

A new report shows some improvements in ozone levels in metro Atlanta and in Macon, though both areas still have significant air quality problems.

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2015” report, released Wednesday, gave a failing grade on ozone to six Georgia counties: Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale. All are in metro Atlanta.

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The report, which covers data from 2011, 2012 and 2013, gave Bibb County (where Macon is located) a D on ozone. The Macon/Warner Robins area was ranked 20th among U.S. cities with the highest year-round particle pollution.

“We saw improvement,’’ said June Deen, with the Lung Association in Georgia. “It’s not a vast improvement.”

Georgia has made progress on air pollution since the first State of the Air report 16 years ago, Deen said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done to make our air healthy for all of us to breathe.”

Georgia counties getting A’s for ozone levels were Chatham and Glynn along the coast; Chattooga in northwest Georgia; Muscogee (the Columbus area); Coweta, south of Atlanta; Dawson, north of Atlanta; and Sumter in South Georgia. Among the cleanest U.S. cities for ozone were Brunswick, Savannah/Hinesville/ Statesboro, Rome/Summerville, and Bainbridge. full story

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