Health and health care news

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Medical Center says it has been asked by the federal Centers for Disease Control to hold a patient for observation.

Maine Med says, in a news release, there is no confirmation the patient is infected with the Ebola virus. But the hospital, and state officials, are saying little else about why the patient is being held at the hospital.

The hospital says it has the facilities and protective clothing necessary to isolate a patient if necessary; it is not saying if that's being done in the current case.

Joaquim Alves Gaspar / Wikimedia Commons

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a York County resident is recuperating from Eastern equine encephalitis. It's the first human case of the mosquito-borne disease in the state, but health industry watchers say they doubt it will be the last.


According to Maine CDC, the patient, described as a "mature" adult, became so ill back in August that hospitalization was necessary. Subsequent blood samples collected and analyzed at a commercial lab revealed the presence of the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, or EEEV.

Joaquim Alves Gaspar / Wikimedia Commons

Maine has confirmed its first human case of the sometimes-fatal disease known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis - or EEE. State health officials say a York County resident became ill with the virus in late August and was hospitalized. That person, who has not been identified, is now recovering at home, state officials say.

The virus has been detected in 22 mosquito pools in York County so far, and in an emu in Cumberland County, but it's the first time EEE has been identified in a Maine resident, says Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Sheila Pinette.

Patty Wight / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Nineteen Maine communities will share a $7.5 million grant to combat opiod abuse for the next five years. Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli visited Maine Wednesday and Thursday to announce the grant and discuss substance abuse issues.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Maine consumers have a new option for buying prescription drugs online, at much cheaper prices. On Oct. 1, the so-called Great British Drug Store launched a website specifically for Maine residents that offers prescription medications at savings of up to 70 percent. But critics say Great British Drug Store's virtual move into Maine violates both U.S. and U.K. law.


AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage is planting pink tulips to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The Republican governor will deliver remarks and plant flowers at the Maine Department of Transportation headquarters on Wednesday to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

LePage will be joined by chief engineer for DOT, Joyce Taylor, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and will be informing Mainers about the importance of early detection.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Over the past week, Medicare has issued penalties to a record number of U.S. hospitals that re-admitted patients within a month of initial treatment. Fifteen Maine hospitals are included in that mix. It's the third year that Medicare has issued penalties under the Affordable Care Act as a way to increase the quality of care and lower costs. But hospital officials say the numbers don't tell the whole story.


One Maine hospital that saw its Medicare penalty jump this year is Maine Coast Memorial in Ellsworth.

The first confirmed case of Ebola in Texas this week shows that the disease is only a plane, train or car trip away from appearing in other states. While health officials in Texas are working to contain the spread of the virus, their colleagues at hospitals in Maine say they're ready to handle Ebola should it find its way here.

YORK, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention won't disclose which York County school district is attended by the child who contracted the state's first case of enterovirus D68.

The Portland Press Herald says the agency is citing patient privacy. The Maine CDC confirmed the state's first case of the virus on Wednesday. Maine was the 42nd state to identify a case of the virus. The case was the 440th positive test nationally at the time.

A new federal website reveals that Maine doctors received more than $4 million from drug and medical device manufacturers. It's called "Open Payments," and was created as part of the Affordable Care Act. Physician groups and health advocates alike say the new service is helpful, but doesn't offer enough information about the reasons for those payments.


The reviews are just starting to come. Emily Brostek says Open Payments is a good first step, but "it's very overwhelming for a consumer to look through."

AUGUSTA, Maine  - Maine has its first confirmed case of so-called enterovirus D68, the illness that's been sweeping the country.

State health officials with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention say they were notified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a York County child tested positive for the disease. The child was initially hospitalized and is now recuperating at home, state officials say.

Tom Porter / MPBN

According to a study earlier this year by the AARP, Maine has about 200,000 people who are described as "unpaid caregivers," providing nearly $2.5 billion of free healthcare to the state every year. Most of them are looking after elderly family members, typically their aging parents. But in some cases, the situation is reversed and it's the parent who's caring for a sick or disabled son or daughter. In the final installment of a three-part series on the challenges facing caregivers, Tom Porter examines the plight of Maine families who are worried about the future.


PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Community Health Options is offering health insurance plans throughout New Hampshire in 2015, expanding ahead of schedule after being approved for a $67 million loan from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The insurance cooperative's proposed plans have been approved by the New Hampshire Insurance Department and are under review at CMS. It originally planned to start marketing its plans only in four of New Hampshire's 10 counties.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho will likely take most of the allotted 120 days to rule on new regulations for a chemical used in household products.

A proposed change would elevate four phthalates from "high concern" to "priority chemical" status under state rules. Manufacturers would need to report the use of the chemicals in products sold in the state.

Aho has until Jan. 27 to make a ruling. A DEP spokesman says Aho will likely take all or most of that time because the issue is complex.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An autopsy performed a year after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his baby's mother and himself found the 25-year-old sustained the same kind of brain damage that has turned up in other NFL players.

Belcher, a former University of Maine player, fatally shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins on Dec. 1, 2012, in the couple's Kansas City home before driving to Arrowhead Stadium and killing himself in front of the team's general manager and head coach.