Health

As the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise in New Hampshire, we've heard from a lot of listeners.

As a station, we've tried our best to keep pace with the breaking news of the virus, including a live coronavirus blog, a story on finding connection while social distancing, and reporting on how schools are responding to the outbreak.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu says his opposition to the Affordable Care Act hasn't changed, but that it makes sense for New Hampshire to join a multi-state effort to defend the law from legal challenge.

Sununu has had a complicated relationship to the health care law often known as Obamacare. He described it as a failure and and celebrated efforts to repeal it. But he's also signed a reauthorization of Medicaid Expansion -- a provision of the law that's brought the state millions of dollars to pay for heath care.

Allison Quantz / NHPR

State officials say statistics released for 2018 show that heart disease was the leading cause of death in New Hampshire.

That's the first time in over a decade that it surpassed cancer.

More than 2,600 New Hampshire residents died from heart disease that year.Nationally, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.

About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for one in every four deaths.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease.

Photo by Vaping360.com via Flickr / Flickr/CC - http://vaping360.com/

 

Massachusetts' ban last week on vaping products is giving a boost to some vape shops in New Hampshire. The ban, which came after a rash of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths in September, is considered the most aggressive state action against vaping in the country.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Local health care providers facing the loss of federal money beacuse of Trump administration rules on abortion say their patients will be hurt by the state budget impasse.

Top Democratic budget writers say that’s one reason they want a quick resolution with Governor Sununu, who vetoed their budget last week.

Flickr/Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

 

New Hampshire is the best state in the country for child well-being, according to a national study released this week.

The 2019 Kids Count Data Book, funded by the Annie E Casey Foundation, shows New Hampshire's student test scores and children's health outcomes are some of the highest in the country and are improving.

Credit ZaldyImg/Flickr

 

The Monadnock region’s first syringe exchange program is getting off the ground this month. The pilot program is part of a mobile harm reduction effort by the Keene Serenity Center and funded by the national non-profit AIDS United.

Recovery coaches will deliver a kit with clean water, syringes, tourniquets, disposal bags, and safe injection instructions to homeless people who are addicted to opioids.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Students and administrators say e-cigarettes are becoming more popular and harder to control in New Hampshire.

E-cigarettes - which look like flash drives or pens - produce a flavored vapor with nicotine. Manufacturers say they help adults quit smoking, but with flavors like cotton candy and lagging regulations on products, many say vaping has become an epidemic among teens.

Speaking with Senator Jeanne Shaheen at Epping High School on Tuesday, freshman Dylan Comeau suggested the original intent of vaping had changed.

AP

Prescription opioids in New Hampshire could soon be marked by orange stickers on their lids. A bill passed by the state senate by a vote of 22-1 on Thursday would also require pamphlets be given out with each prescription.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic state rep Tom Loughman, says he introduced the bill after hearing stories of people who took opioids without realizing it.

NHPR Photo

Lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday requiring all of the state's public middle and high schools to provide menstrual products in female and gender neutral bathrooms free of charge.

The bill was inspired by Rochester high schooler, Caroline Dillon, who said her peers were skipping school because they couldn't afford tampons or pads.

Supporters have praised the bill for breaking the stigma around menstruation.

Its critics said the bill was an unfunded mandate requiring schools to pay for more services without giving them the money to do so.

 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

 At a public hearing on the state budget Tuesday, senators heard testimony in support of increasing funding for public schools and health care workers.

Many spoke in support of a bill that would boost state aid for health care programs, address worker shortages, and increase Medicaid reimbursements.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

A plan to spend more than $10 million to address a shortage of mental health beds has passed the New Hampshire House.

The money would pay for a number of efforts including renovations at existing hospitals to make room for more mental health beds, a new mobile mental health crisis unit, and new transitional housing for people who are released from inpatient psychiatric care.

Flickr/Marco Verch

Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would require schools to provide tampons and pads in restrooms for free.

The proposed legislation began when Rochester high schooler Caroline Dillon realized last year that her peers were skipping school when menstruating because they couldn't afford menstrual products.

Courtesy Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Lawmakers at the State House heard testimony on a bill Wednesday that would pave the way for an expansion of telemedicine in New Hampshire.

Senate bill 258 would add primary care physicians and pediatricians to the list of doctors in New Hampshire who can bill Medicaid and private insurers for telemedicine.

CDC.gov

In an effort to halt an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak, health clinics in Manchester, Nashua, Somersworth, and Concord are offering free vaccines to people without health insurance.

A new database released Tuesday offers a detailed look at the health of aging adults in New Hampshire.

The report, funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, provides town-level data on 166 different health indicators for adults over 60 in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Executive Council is delaying voting on contracts to manage the more than $900 million dollar state Medicaid program.

Right now, Wellsense and Centine manage the state's Medicaid program. This contract, which would pay the companies millions, would continue that though 2024, but also add a third provider, AmeriHealth Caritas.

Members of New Hampshire's Executive Council say they want more information before voting, particularly about AmeriHealth Caritas, which had been penalized by regulators in Iowa over its work on that state's Medicaid program.

Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana/Flickr

Vaccination safeguards both personal and community health. But a recent outbreak of the measles in Washington state is revealing the necessity for high vaccination rates. Every state allows medical exemptions and many allow religious exemptions. But Washington state, along with about 20 other states, allows for a philosophical exemption for families who disagree with the mandate to vaccinate.

New Hampshire allows no such exemption — and the Granite State boasts one of the highest vaccination rates nationally. But the number of religious exemptions is on the rise. On the verge of a Hepatitis A outbreak in the state, we talk to medical providers about vaccines in early childhood and what risks unvaccinated youth pose to the greater community. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to undo a new work-requirement in the state's Medicaid expansion program went before lawmakers today.

The work requirement was part of a bipartisan compromise that re-authorized expanded Medicaid last session.

Starting next month some Medicaid Expansion recipients will need to complete 100 hours of work or volunteer work each month or risk losing their health coverage.

Flickr/Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

A new study from New Hampshire’s Endowment for Health says despite the state’s high rankings in child well-being, some families aren’t getting enough services.

The study, conducted by the RAND corporation, focused on the cities of Claremont, Manchester, and Nashua, and Coös County.

It praised efforts there to offer preschool and coordinate nurse and social worker home visits, but it says only a tenth of families that would benefit from homes visits are getting them.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR

An effort aimed at supporting Manchester’s most vulnerable kids is set to expand this year thanks to a $175,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a collaboration led by the Manchester Community Health Center, announced on Thursday a plan to expand parenting education classes and teacher training.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Two of the state's largest hospitals have taken the first step toward merging into a new healthcare network.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and GraniteOne Health, an existing group that includes Catholic Medical Center, signed a letter of intent Thursday to combine under a new entity. But this is not the first hospital partnership that New Hampshire has seen in the past few years.

Two of the state's largest hospitals are hoping to combine forces in a new healthcare network.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and GraniteOne Health, an existing group that includes Catholic Medical Center, signed a letter of intent Thursday to combine under a new entity called Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne.

Department of Human Health and Services

An attorney representing the families of two children in litigation against DCYF says a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate doesn't go far enough.

Rus Rilee represents the families of Brielle Gage and Sadee Willott, two toddlers who were killed by abusive mothers in separate incidents in 2014 and 2015. In both cases, abuse had been reported to the state's Division for Children Youth and Families.

PublicDomainPictures.net

The New Hampshire Hospital Association has moved to intervene in a lawsuit against the state brought by the ACLU-NH.

The lawsuit addresses the current practice of emergency room boarding, where patients who are involuntarily committed for acute psychiatric treatment are sometimes held for weeks in emergency rooms without a probable cause hearing.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

A bill in the New Hampshire Legislature could put more attention on young people affected by the opioid epidemic.

House Bill 111 would establish a committee to study the effect of the opioid crisis and domestic violence on children and recommend possible legislation to address it.

 

Flickr/Marco Verch

If you’re thinking about getting healthier in the new year, you’re not alone. Gyms will see their biggest spike in membership this month, but sticking to goals after January can get tricky.

A sign outside The Workout Club in Salem advertising a New Year's discount reads: "New Year, New You."

Assistant Manager Brody Williams says most months, they get around 200 new members. In January, they get more more than double that.

NHPR

State officials say they are working to address the issues behind a recent lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire ACLU.

The federal suit alleges that mental health patients in New Hampshire are routinely denied their constitutional rights by being detained in emergency rooms without a hearing, what is called ER boarding.

PublicDomainPictures.net

The New Hampshire ACLU has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the state of New Hampshire over a practice called emergency room boarding.

The anonymous 26 year-old plaintiff in the ACLU’s suit was admitted to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua last week following an attempted suicide. (Update: Jeffrey Meyers, commissioner of Health and Human Services, responds to the complaint's allegations.)

Sodanie Chea via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/MLjxV

The government benefits program for women and children, known as WIC, is getting an upgrade in New Hampshire.

WIC provides benefits to about 12,000 low-income New Hampshire residents to help cover the cost of healthy groceries. Until recently, mothers using WIC redeemed their benefits with a paper voucher, but by the end of 2018 all participants in the state will redeem their benefits with a WIC debit card.

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