Category: Health

July 20th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH NEWS | Farmer markets around the state will have another month in the busy summer growing season to figure out how to keep accepting food assistance benefits electronically at their stands.

The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) announced Thursday it will send a month’s worth of  operating funds to technology company Nova Dia Group to keep its MarketLink software running until the end of August, according to a news release sent out Thursday.

The move came just two weeks before 1,700 farmers markets around the county, including 45 in North Carolina, would have to stop accepting the  Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT) that many depend on. No permanent solution has been announced.

At farmers markets around North Carolina, the tables are piled high with tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, peaches and more.

But even as the growing season is peaking, some folks who might want to buy will have a harder time bringing those fresh fruits and vegetables home.

That’s because the technology company that currently processes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) benefits at 40 percent of the country’s farmers markets will stop doing so at the end of July.

Left in the lurch in North Carolina are 45 farmers markets, farm stands and mobile markets and the low-income customers that use their SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to buy that produce through a purchasing program that runs off of Apple iPads and iPhones, according to Lisa Misch, a program coordinator who works on food access issues for the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International.

The Austin-based Nova Dia Group confirmed to the Washington Post early last week it planned to cease operating the technology it sells to farmer markets after July 31, setting off a panic among those who run farmers markets and public health officials working to boosting SNAP use at those markets.

More at North Carolina Health News

Posted in Farmers Market, Health, State news, State politics

July 16th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Many North Carolina parents who have lost their children to drug overdoses are fighting to prevent other families from feeling their same pain.

woman holds up a photo of a young man who is hooked up to multiple medical machines, including a breathing machine

Debbie Dalton holds a photo of her son Hunter who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl in 2016. He spent seven days in the hospital after his overdose hooked up to life support. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf

Debbie Dalton holds a photo of her son Hunter who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl in 2016. He spent seven days in the hospital after his overdose hooked up to life support. Photo credit: Taylor KnopfDebbie Dalton was sitting at her kitchen table in Cornelius writing Christmas cards the week after Thanksgiving 2016 when she received a devastating phone call.

The caller ID said “Hunter,” the name of her then-23-year-old son who recently graduated college and moved to Raleigh to work at Citrix.

But it wasn’t Hunter calling. His roommate was on the other end and said that Hunter had overdosed.

He lived for seven days hooked up to life support machines inside the hospital. Hunter overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl and was brain dead.

“I could have held his hand forever, but he wouldn’t want that,” Dalton said.

So she decided to take action. She joined the many North Carolina parents suffering the loss of a child who are fighting to prevent more drug overdose deaths.

Attorney General Josh Stein, who’s prioritized the opioid issue, recently invited parents from across the state to his Raleigh office to share what they’ve been doing to combat overdose deaths in their communities.


Most of the efforts revolve around prevention education and helping people get substance abuse treatment services. The majority of the parents present belong to a recently formed lobbying group called ROAR to push for opioid legislation.

In June, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the HOPE Act, a law aimed at stopping the flow of prescription drugs into the illegal market. The HOPE Act comes with the promise of more money for addiction treatment and recovery services. It also gives law enforcement new tools to investigate drug crimes, including the ability to look at the Controlled Substances Reporting System, a state-managed prescription database. That provision proved to be controversial.

Full article at North Carolina Health News

Posted in Health

June 21st, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern ranks second in North Carolina and 75th in the nation for EMT and paramedic services, according to Security Choice.

Among North Carolina cities, Greenville ranked 19th, New Bern 75th, and Asheville ranked 83rd.

The survey took into account all of the data available for 645 cities across the nation. The final categorization was based primarily on five categories which were weighted by level of importance to those in the profession:

  • 35% Mean Salary of EMTs Paramedics/EMTs by City
  • 5% FBI Crime Data
  • 25% Location Quotient for Paramedics/EMTs (Share of employment in the City vs National Average)
  • 15% Paramedic Job Projection
  • 20% Cost of Living

“Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) work in an exciting, but stressful field,” according to the article. “As first responders, these professionals make decisions on a daily basis that greatly impact the care and outcomes for patients in an emergency scenario. Emergency Medical Services also report a far higher incidence of injury and death on the job than any other equivalent profession. Most EMTs and paramedics choose the field because they love the work. With the high level of stress associated with the profession, it’s important to choose a location where the best quality of life is possible, on the job and off the clock.”

Key Takeaways:

Arizona offers a great life quality for Paramedics and EMTs. In the top 20 cities, four are in the state of Arizona. Of those, three are in the top 10. Of these cities in Arizona, all have a lower than average crime rate and the cost of living is on average with a paramedic/EMT’s salary.

Low population cities are heavily represented. The average population in the top 20 cities was 54,000. The overall dataset’s average was 160,000. Areas with less congestion and residents yielded a better overall quality of life for this profession.

Western states don’t feature many cities in the top 100 list. Although California’s Santa Rosa is featured in the top 10 best cities and Washington’s cities are heavily represented throughout the top 100, many western states are not represented at all. No cities from Oregon, Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming proved to be advantageous for this profession.

Southern cities are among the best for EMTs and paramedics. Of the top 20 cities represented, seven of them are southern states. Georgia is well represented on this list, with two cities in the top 10 and three in the top 20.


Posted in Health

June 20th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

North Carolina Health News

In the waning days of this year’s legislative work session, lawmakers abruptly revived and passed a bill aimed at revising North Carolina’s laws to address the flood of people with mental health crises in hospital emergency departments.

Officials from the state’s hospital association had convened administrators, advocacy organizations, academics, mental health professionals and others over several years to examine some legislative fixes. Those leading that effort say they’ve come up with a bill that will improve processes for people who find themselves in crisis.

“We did this because we were tired of seeing these people, these humans trapped in a system that there really was no escape, this system of [involuntary commitment],” said Julia Wacker who leads mental health policy analysis for the North Carolina Healthcare Association. “This is far too often the way of treatment … stick these folks in handcuffs, put them in a squad car, and take them to the emergency department.”

But trust is hard to come by in North Carolina’s mental health system, and people who have been part of that system as consumers of services say they feel let down by a process that excluded their voices, as many of the state’s most prominent self-advocates were not invited to participate. They say any result will fail to account for the pain they’ve experienced as a result of the state’s fractured behavioral health system.

Long-time mental health advocate Martha Brock speaks during the Lives on the Hill event Sunday held on the NC State University campus. Brock said former patients need to have their voices heard in the process of creating a memorial to Dorothea Dix Hospital. Photo credit: Karen Tam
Long-time mental health advocate Martha Brock in 2016. She has long argued for more inclusion for people who have been served by the mental health system in decision-making at the state level. Photo credit: Karen Tam

“They did not tell us about this bill,” said longtime advocate Martha Brock, who has been hospitalized for mental illness in the past.

Brock, who serves on the state Consumer and Family Advisory Committee, which informs the Department of Health and Human Services on behavioral health issues, said that she was frustrated after being shut out of the negotiations around the bill. She also has problems with some of its provisions.

Another longtime advocate Laurie Coker complained that the bill was revived suddenly, moved quickly, and that they were given little time to respond to changes made in the final draft. Both women expressed concern about definitions of “incompetence,” about who gets to make decisions for a person once they’re engaged in the behavioral health system, and about the privacy rights of people in that system.

And their complaints hint at some of the long-standing divisions within the mental health advocacy community itself, as well as the problems that come when institutions communicate with a limited pool of advocates.

Full story

Posted in Health, State news, State politics

June 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

North Carolina Health News

Mental health advocates are concerned that a bill to enhance prison safety could disproportionately hurt inmates with severe mental illnesses.

A bill making its way through the General Assembly would have imposed automatic felony charges, with time in prison added to the sentences of inmates who masturbate in front of or throw bodily or unknown fluids toward a correctional officer.

These felony charges could have added up to two years to an inmate’s sentence for each offense, which would be served consecutively. The concern was that this could potentially add more than a decade to an inmate’s time for a prisoner with multiple offenses.

Dave Wickstrom, executive director of the Alliance of Disability Advocates, said he feared this could “keep people with mental illness in prison forever.”

After a contentious legislative committee meeting Thursday afternoon, the bill continued to move forward, but with the penalties softened some.

Nonetheless, advocates worry the measure will sweep up some of the most vulnerable of North Carolina’s prison population, and raise costs.


Posted in Health

June 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

North Carolina Health News

As the number of drug overdoses in North Carolina and across the country continue to climb, state lawmakers rolled out a second piece of legislation aimed at curbing the flow of prescription opioids into the illegal drug market.

The Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (HOPE) Act aims to give law enforcement more tools to stop the diversion of prescription pills by allowing expanded access to the Controlled Substance Reporting System, which tracks the identifying information of people who are prescribed opioids.

The HOPE Act also makes it a class G felony for a first responder or home health worker to steal a patient’s medication, on par with robbery. And it would create a class E felony for any health care provider to steal a patient’s medication by diluting it or replacing it with a drug other than the one the patients were prescribed. Other class E felonies include child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.

“As sad as it is, we have some bad actors in the medical field who have by their deeds fueled this crisis,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) during the press rollout of the bill. “It is tragic that we have to put this into legislation … These activities are rare, but we have to seal every door and stem every breach that allows this crisis to continue.”


Posted in Health

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