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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




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.


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

3 homeless dead in Atlanta TB outbreak

Three homeless people have died in the TB outbreak involving Atlanta shelters, public health officials say.

The latest TB death occurred last week at Grady Memorial Hospital, Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health, said Thursday.

DPH-Logo-Center-HeightShe said she had no further details about this or the other TB deaths.

The number of TB cases this year involving Fulton County homeless shelters, meanwhile, has increased to 28, including two shelter volunteers.

That’s up from a total of 16 cases reported in May by the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness. full story

Ebola: Emory gets chance to save lives, educate

A roomful of reporters and TV cameras tracked every word that Emory physicians said at a Friday news conference preceding the arrival of two Americans stricken with Ebola.

After their high-profile trip to Atlanta, the two patients’ treatment in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital has brought unprecedented media attention to the medical facility.

TV cameras are posted prior to Emory press conference Friday.

The net effect for Emory is an immediate increase in prestige and visibility, health care experts told GHN on Wednesday.

“It’s a huge boost in prestige for Emory,’’ said Craig Savage, a health care consultant with Durham, N.C.-based CMBC Advisors. The hospital shows through the Ebola cases “the ability to care for the sickest of the sick,” Savage said.

Emory has long had a strong reputation in health care circles, though Savage said it generally has not been listed in the highly exclusive top tier of U.S. academic medical centers, as have Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic.

Yet the recent days of intense news coverage — in which TV helicopters tracked the patients’ ambulances and networks interrupted regular programming to show their arrivals at the hospital — reached ordinary people around the world who might not previously have even heard of Emory. full story

First Ebola patient arrives at Emory

Ebola-stricken Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital on Saturday, the first known patient with the virus treated on U.S. soil.

A specially equipped medical plane brought Brantly from the African nation of Liberia to Georgia. He rode in a Grady ambulance from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to the Emory campus in Atlanta.

Emory will treat Brantly, 33, and eventually the other American infected with Ebola, fellow medical missionary Nancy Writebol, in a special isolation unit.

Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement Saturday, “I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.”

Here is CNN’s account of Brantly’s arrival.


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