Health and health care news

Portland Bans Public Vaping

Apr 28, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine's largest city has approved a measure prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

The Portland Press Herald reports Portland City Council voted 7-1 in favor of the ban Monday. The measure added e-cigarettes to the city's anti-smoking ordinance, which was updated in 2013 to prohibit smoking in public spaces such as parks, beaches and playgrounds.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine's largest city is considering a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

The Portland City Council will hold a Monday night meeting in which it considers placing e-cigarettes and other devices that allow the user to inhale vapors on its list of tobacco products that are banned in public areas.

The city's Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported the ban last month.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine's attorney general is urging state budget writers to give her more resources to combat Medicaid fraud and elder abuse.

Attorney General Janet Mills wants to add a third attorney to the HealthCare Crimes Unit, which investigates and prosecutes Medicaid fraud and patient abuse and neglect in health care facilities.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine — About half of all Mainers rely on private wells for water. But the underlying bedrock produces toxic chemicals such as arsenic at levels deemed unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee is considering a bill that would increase testing of private wells and access to filtration systems for households with contaminated water. But how the bill would be funded is generating opposition.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Some parents are urging Maine lawmakers to allow medical marijuana in schools.

The parents appeared Thursday before the Legislature's Education Committee to express their support of a bill that would allow schools to provide accommodations for children who use medical marijuana.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the bill is sponsored by Republican state Rep. Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea, who says it doesn't make sense that schools can make accommodations for other prescription medications, but not marijuana.

PORTLAND, Maine - Hannaford Supermarkets is recalling packages of pine nuts it says might be contaminated with salmonella.

The Portland Press Herald reports the pine nuts are packaged by Superior Nuts & Candy of Chicago and are sold in store produce departments in packages with a clear front and a tan label on the back. The label says pine nuts are the only ingredients and lists "best by'' dates from Oct. 22, 2015, through Dec. 27, 2015. The UPC number for the product is 72543920016.

The state of Maine could save $26 million dollars in 2016 if it expanded Medicaid, according to a new study.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine officials say a group's petitions to get a question about legalizing marijuana on the 2016 state ballot could be on the street by mid-May.

Legalize Maine wants to collect enough signatures to get the question to voters. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office says officials are preparing a financial impact statement about the proposal. She says the statement is due April 24, and the petitions could be ready for circulation by mid-May.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine campaign finance data confirms early reports that a nationally-backed marijuana legalization drive is raising more money than a local organization with the same goal.

The reports say the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol raised $51,155 between January and the end of March. The group is an effort of the national Marijuana Policy Project. Local group Legalize Maine raised $30,285 in the same period.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Medical Center officials say they're "optimistic'' they can work through the remaining medical and legal hurdles in a kidney transplant case that has attracted national attention.

Joshua Dall-Leighton of Windham responded to a plea for a donor posted on the back of South Portland resident Christine Royles' car. Hospital spokesman Matt Paul says Maine Medical Center remains hopeful it will "be in a position to perform a successful operation.''

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Medical Center is continuing to work toward a successful kidney transplant for Christine Royle, the South Portland mother whose story attracted national attention after she advertised for a donor on her car and a stranger volunteered.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A year after revelations that sick veterans were facing excessively long wait times for care at facilities run by the Veterans Affairs Administration - and that the VA was actively covering up those long wait times - some things have changed at the VA.

But, nationwide, one of those things is not wait times. According to an Associated Press investigation released today, the number of patients facing long wait times hasn't dropped at all -- in fact, the number of appointments that take more than 90 days to set up has almost doubled.

Tom Porter / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Doctors at Maine Medical Center have expressed frustration at how a fund-raising effort on behalf of a kidney donor is potentially delaying a life-saving transplant.
"We want nothing more than to match potential donors with their recipients," said Dr. John Vella at a news conference Thursday in Portland.

But, said Vella of Maine Med's Transplant Program, a law passed in 1984 to prevent anyone from profiting from organ donation has led to an unprecedented legal situation.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - A fundraising effort on behalf of a kidney donor has delayed surgery for a woman who found the donor by posting a personal plea on her car.

The donor, Josh Dall-Leighton of Windham, and his wife tell the Portland Press Herald that Maine Medical Center officials informed them this week that it has concerns about the amount of money raised for them.

PORTLAND, Maine — The nation's oldest veterans hospital, in Augusta, Maine, is also among the VA sites where patients are less likely to have to wait a long time for treatment.

The Associated Press analyzed six months of appointment data at 940 VA hospitals and clinics nationwide to identify the ones struggling most to deliver prompt care.

Between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28, only 1.2 percent of the appointments completed at the VA hospital in Augusta failed to meet the department's timeliness standard, which calls for patients to be seen within 30 days.