Health and health care news

Health care providers in Maine that receive Title X funding are condemning the Trump Administration's proposed gag rule that would block them from referring patients to abortion services. 

Bangor Health Organization Adds Free Clinic To Serve At-Risk Patients

May 16, 2018
Health Equity Alliance

Health Equity Alliance, a Bangor health organization that serves marginalized communities, will add a new clinical service aimed at bridging its clients’ path into the greater health care system.

Starting this week, the social justice-oriented health organization will begin offering a twice-weekly “triage” clinic providing medical advice and basic treatment to its clientele: people who use drugs, belong to the LGBT community or who have HIV/AIDS, said Andrea Littlefield, HEAL’s director of development and communications.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

A new law took effect on May 1, changing the language used to describe substance use in Maine's laws.

Groups that want to end Maine’s opioid crisis say a new state law will help reduce stigma by tweaking language in existing statutes.

The law removes references to terms like alcohol and drug abuse and replaces them with “substance use disorder.” Rather than saying alcoholic or drug addict, “person with substance use disorder” is used.

Auburn Republican State Sen. and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey sponsored the legislation. He says this was a recommendation proposed by a special legislative task force looking into the state’s opioid crisis.

Bloomberg American Health Initiative via Rhode Island Public Radio

A urine test could become another tool in the fight to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Maine. The test screens for fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that caused more than half of the 418 drug overdose deaths in the state last year. Some health advocates say the test can be used to check drugs before they’re injected, but others say it’s an unscientific method that could actually cause harm.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Until recently, the most that Mid Coast Hospital could do for patients showing up in the ER with opioid use disorder was to hand them a phone number to call for long-term help. But last fall, the hospital started something new in Maine and around the country — it started giving patients a dose of Suboxone, medication used to treat opioid addiction, and connecting them to other services.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is supporting a lawsuit brought by three of its affiliates against the Trump administration. The lawsuit is trying to block proposed changes to the Title X program, which provides funding for birth control and reproductive health care to low income patients.

A Maine-based health care system says its patients will now have access to resources at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The Wednesday announcement by Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems stated the organization had signed a clinical affiliation agreement with Mass General. The Bangor Daily News reports this means it will bring the Boston hospital's resources to patients in the Bangor area.

Maine Students Required To Get Meningitis Vaccine For Next School Year

Apr 24, 2018
Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press/file

In a move aimed at protecting more young Mainers from contracting and spreading a deadly bacterial disease, the state will officially mandate a vaccine in the next school year to prevent meningococcal disease.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A national health report released this week indicates opioid prescribing has fallen over 13 percent in Maine last year, the sixth steepest drop in the nation.

Health data firm IQVIA’s Institute for Human Data Science released a report Thursday showing an 8.9 percent average drop nationwide in the number of prescriptions for opioids filled by retail and mail-order pharmacies.

The Portland Press Herald reports Maine saw a 13.3 percent drop in opioid prescriptions statewide.

The number of opioid prescriptions being written by doctors in Maine declined by 32 percent between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, opioid prescriptions numbers fell by 13.3 percent – the fifth biggest decline in the country.

The numbers released by the American Medical Association come from health data company IQVIA .

"Fewer prescriptions will mean fewer overdose deaths,” says Dr. Noah Nesin, vice president of Medical Affairs with Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine is set to receive $2 million in federal funding to fight the heroin and opioid abuse crisis.

Last year 418 Mainers died from drug overdose, an 11 percent increase compared to 2016. The nation saw over 63,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $485 million to states to combat drug addiction under a 2016 federal law. Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King championed the law, which released $500 million in the first round of funding last year.

How The Boston Marathon Bombing Helped Bring Innovation To Amputation

Apr 16, 2018
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Army veteran Brandon Korona pulls up his pant leg, rearranges a protective sleeve, and twists off the plastic socket on top of his prosthetic left leg. It comes off with a suction cup-like pop.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Hundreds of Maine children with developmental disabilities are on a wait list to receive support services in their home. 

SANFORD, Maine — Maine school officials say six students in Sanford have been diagnosed with whooping cough.

WMTW-TV reports there were four reported cases at Margaret Chase Smith School and two cases at Sanford Junior High School. Parents have been notified.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is spread through sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include sore throat, uncontrollable coughing and fever.