by Hannah McCartney
48 days ago
Posted In: Health
at 02:33 PM | Permalink
Collection hopes to curb prescription drug abuse
If your medicine cabinet could use a good fall cleaning, think about de-cluttering tomorrow during National Drug Take-Back day so you can properly dispose of the pills and make sure they don't get into the wrong hands. The local prescription take-back is sponsored by the Hamilton Country Sheriff Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Prescription drug abuse is a rampant public safety and health issues, and take-back programs are one of a number of public health measures communities can take to reduce prescription drug abuse in their neighborhoods. Even flushing the pills down the toilet poses its own risks; the chemicals could make their way into our water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that fish have suffered serious deformities from pharmaceutical-tainted water supplies, and it could affect humans, too, although the research isn't strong enough to draw any solid conclusions yet. There are three locations around the city where you can bring old prescriptions (all locations are open from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.): Miami Township Community Center, 3780 Shady Lane, North Bend, OH 45052Symmes Township Safety Center, 8871 Weekly Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45249Anderson Center, Five Mile Road, Cincinnati, OH 45230The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for reasons other than which they were prescribed. In 2010, 7 million Americans abused a prescription drug; pain relieving medications like Vicodin and Oxycontin are the most commonly abused drugs. Unintentional drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Ohio. The state has experienced a 440 percent growth rate in accidental overdose deaths from 1999 to 2011. According to DrugAbuse.gov, teenagers are especially likely to abuse medications because of their easy accessibility and a lack of awareness about the consequences of abuse. Needles, IV bags and radioactive medicines will not be accepted.
by Hannah McCartney
70 days ago
House overwhelmingly approves loosening restrictions on establishing SEPs
The Ohio House yesterday offered overwhelming support for a
bill that would authorize local health boards across the state to
establish syringe-exchange programs with fewer roadblocks, which could pave the way for Cincinnati to establish myriad programs across its neighborhoods most afflicted by intravenous drug use and bloodborne pathogens. House Bill 92, sponsored jointly by Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania), would remove a restriction that stipulates programs can only be implemented when a local health emergency has been declared and lays out mandates for programs to protect the rights and educate the intravenous drug users who take advantage of the programs. Syringe exchange programs have been the privy to
significant controversy; opposers say that offering addicts the tools they need to fuel
drug habits ultimately fuels destructive habits
and sends the wrong message to drug abusers.
What’s helped turn the issue non-partisan, however, is overwhelming data supporting claims that the program saves lives. In 2004, the World Health Organization published a study
on the effectiveness of syringe programming in reducing HIV/AIDS that
found a “compelling case that (needle-exchange programs) substantially
and cost effectively reduce the spread of HIV among (injection drug
users) and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at
either the individual or societal level.”
Adam Reilly, who is an HIV project manager for a local
healthcare provider, says that a syringe exchange program is already in
the works for Springdale; the location is expected to open in about a
month. He says that project has been seven years in the making because of how entangled efforts to establish the program become in bureaucracy. Establishing a program is particularly laborious, he explains, because it requires citywide cooperation — including law enforcement — which has proven to be a challenge for programs in other states, where police officers are prone to harass participants entering or leaving an exchange facility.
The current bill would essentially take the issue out of
the political arena, Reilly says, and thrust the responsibility onto
health departments. The city of Cincinnati in 2012 already declared a public health emergency following significant proof of a citywide HIV/Hepatitis C epidemic sourced primarily from heroin abuse. Cincinnati's now-defunct nonprofit agency STOP AIDS found through focus groups that the majority of intravenous drug users are Caucasian middle-aged males; 145 of 147 study subjects reported using ineffective methods to clean used equipment. Their data estimates that 4,000-6,000 people locally are currently living with HIV/AIDS. STOP AIDS also estimated that spending $385,000 per year on a syringe exchange program has the potential to save nearly $50 million annually in health costs generated from contracting HIV or HCV infections. To make the program as effective as possible, Reilly says other exchange programs offer participants assurance in writing that their identities will be protected; the House bill also says that future programs wold be required to encourage drug users to seek medical, mental health or social services, also offer counseling and other educational requirements. The bill has been assigned to a Senate committee, where it will go through another vote and, if passed, will require Gov. John Kasich's signature to become law.
by Hannah McCartney
72 days ago
Projections estimate 2013 rates to be reduced by 52 percent
Another effort to reduce Cincinnati's alarmingly high infant mortality rates launched today, which local leaders hope will help educate first-time parents in the city's most afflicted zip codes on proper ways to put their infants to sleep. The new city coalition created to address infant deaths, coined Cradle Cincinnati, announced an educational effort to address infant deaths from improper sleeping habits.
According to the Cincinnati Health Department, 36 babies died from unsafe sleeping conditions between 2010-2011. The campaign addresses simple "ABCs" of safe baby sleep to stop infant mortality deaths that otherwise could have been prevented. The most important things to remember, according to the campaign, are that infants should always sleep alone, in a crib and on his or her back. The health department provides other helpful tips here. It's another step forward in addressing a concern that plagues neighborhoods across the city. Some Cincinnati zip codes in the past have held higher infant mortality rates than those of third-world countries. The campaign is also donating 1,000 onesies to area birth hospitals that read "This Side Up" on the stomach — a friendly safety reminder to new parents. Kroger is also partnering with the campaign by helping to spread the tenets of the campaign in diaper and baby food aisles at local stores. According to a Cincinnati.com editorial by Noble Maseru, Cincinnati’s health commissioner, the recent efforts have been working. He says the city’s 2013
infant mortality rates are projected at 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live
52 percent reduction in fatalities that brings the city drastically closer to the national average.
Previously, the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati was
more than double the national average: 13.3 babies out of 1,000, compared with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 nationally.
In June, the city of Cincinnati announced the community
partnership spearheaded by Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune to
lower infant mortality rates, uniting health experts, political leaders
and some nonprofits to share ideas and best practices to better
overlap city efforts.
University of Cincinnati Health president and CEO Jim
Kingsbury agreed to offer the new collaboration initial funding from the
county’s sale of Drake Hospital. Mayor Mark Mallory also entered the city into a contest in February to earn a grant to expand the city's Infant Vitality Surveillance Network, which monitored the pregnancies of new mothers in high-risk areas across the city with an updated database. The city's entry was a finalist, but ultimately didn't win a grant. Today, the Infant Mortality Surveillance Network still works with both University Hospital and Christ Hospital to collect data on new mothers from zip codes with the worst infant mortality rates and provides them with information, education, depression screening and home care help, if needed.
by Hannah McCartney
Rural areas could benefit from improved corner stores
A report conducted by researchers at East Carolina University in North Carolina, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sheds some interesting light on patterns in the availability of healthy food in different geographic regions and concludes that amping up corner stores that traditionally peddle junk food could be key in improving public health and national obesity rates. The study focused heavily on the availability of healthy foods such as fresh produce in corner stores across the state in urban, suburban and rural areas. The findings suggest that there are higher rates of obesity in rural areas of the United States than in urban or suburban areas, speculating that because rural residents tend to live farther from supermarkets, they may rely more on junk food from corner stores (like gas stations) or fast food. Where rural areas did have healthy food available, it tended to be of lower quality than other more populated areas. People aren’t averse to healthy foods, according to the study. When researchers surveyed shoppers and management at rural corner stores, they found a dichotomy in the perception of demand for healthy foods between the two groups. Store managers said they’d be interested in stocking healthy foods, but didn’t think there was a high enough demand to do so; shoppers told researchers they’d be likely to buy produce at a corner store and attributed the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets to the lack of accessibility at the stores they frequented. Obesity as a result of poor access to healthy food is not just a rural phenomenon, however. Some urban neighborhoods, particularly those that are low-income, also suffer from alarmingly high obesity rates. Avondale, which is considered a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has long been dealing with a severe obesity problem, according to Avondale Community Council President Patricia Milton. CityBeat reported on Cincinnati’s efforts to eliminate food deserts and improve selections at corner stores here. Obesity is a detrimental public health problem that costs the U.S. approximately $190 billion per year in health care expenses, according to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health. It’s directly associated with harmful health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and overall reductions in life spans. According to the Harvard researchers, if obesity trends continue, obesity-related medical costs could rise by up to $66 billion by 2030. University of Cincinnati professor Michael Widener told CityBeat in June about his research to analyze the way a number of different economic and social factors play into eating habits in different geographical regions, which could eventually help paint a better picture of how to establish strong and healthy networks of groceries and possibly improve obesity rates and public health. The Center for Closing the Health Gap (CCHG), a local nonprofit working toward health equality, is currently working on identifying grocery stores which may be eligible to receive incentivizing funds from the Cincinnati Fresh Food Retail Financing Fund, which could bring grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods such as Avondale. CCHG is also working on the pilot phases of its Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which could provide corner store owners with the education and technical assistance to start selling more healthful foods. To find out if where you're living qualifies as a "food desert," click here.
by Hannah McCartney
New NRA president, local homicide rates increase, cutest zoo babies contest
The National Rifle Association (NRA) will name Alabama lawyer Jim Porter its new president at their annual meeting in Houston this weekend. Porter replaces current president David Keene, whose two-year term is at an end. Porter served as the first vice president of the NRA board for two years and second vice president for another two years. His father, Irvine Porter, was NRA president from 1959-1960, making Jim the first son of a former NRA president to take the gun lobby's highest office. Meet the man who frequently uses the word "ain't" and believes U.S. gun owners are treated like "second-class citizens" here. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre will reportedly continue to hold down the media spotlight. Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy recently compared an "out of whack" LaPierre to "clowns at the circus" in response to LaPierre's criticism over the state's tightened gun control laws. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee yesterday signed legislation making Rhode Island the 10th state in the nation to allow gay marriage and the final of the six New England states to do so. The city of Cincinnati has ceased Recyclebank, an incentive program encouraging residents to recycle, thanks to low participation rates. You can still redeem your points, though. A new perk program will be launched sometime soon. Homicide in Cincinnati has increased by 50 percent compared to statistics from the same period last year, according to the Cincinnati Police Department. In other grim news, the suicide rate among middle-aged Ohioans rose significantly over the past decade, a trend mirrored across the U.S., according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, Ohio saw 783 suicides among residents 35 to 64 years old, compared to 517 in 1999. That marks a 41.5 percent increase, significantly higher than the nationwide average of 28 percent. Art on the Streets and the City of Cincinnati Bike Program are sponsoring The Music Ride tonight as part of Bike Month to celebrate Over-the-Rhine Night at the Cincinnati Symphony. Instruments will be provided, and all age and skill levels are welcome. Today marks the kick-off of a weekend full of Flying Pig Marathon celebrations, which, in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, will feature heightened security meaures. If you're planning on driving anywhere around downtown this weekend, be sure to check out road closures first. The Cincinnati Zoo is holding a “Cutest Baby of All Time: Sweet 16” people’s choice contest. Advancers so far include Gladys the baby gorilla in the "Primate" category and Bernard the King penguin in the "Wings & Things" branch. Today, vote between Joseph the cougar or Savanna the cheetah in the feline bracket. Speaking of Gladys, she made her public debut in her outdoor yard Tuesday. We at CityBeat nearly lost our marbles when we lost internet at the office for 24 hours. Meet a man who survived without it for an entire year and lived to talk about it. Happy Friday: Here is a video of Ryan Gosling smirking a lot and, for a second, shirtless.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: News
at 01:00 PM | Permalink
Health professionals organizing city-wide effort to reduce rates
Cincinnati babies don't get the same chance at seeing their first birthday as do infants in other states across the country, and area health professionals believe it's time to become more proactive about it. On Wednesday, Noble Maseru, Cincinnati health commissioner, and Dr. Elizabeth Kelly, a maternal-infant health specialist at University Hospital, presented statistics to City Council in support of expanding city-wide efforts to reduce infant mortality rates (IMRs) and reconsider infant care and public health strategies. Infant mortality rates are typically measured by the number of deaths of babies under
one year of age per 1,000 live births. Statistics show that the overall
IMR rate in counties across Cincinnati from 2006-2010 was 13.3. In 2010, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.8 — just a little more than half of Cincinnati's alarming statistic. According to the City of Cincinnati Health Department, infant mortality rates are currently the highest in the 45202 zip code; the rate between 2007-2009 was 24.2. Other Hamilton County zip codes with high IMRs include 45203 (20.1), 45229 (17.5), 45214 (19.2) and others. Zip codes with the lowest rates included 45218 (0), 45226 (0), 45248 (3.7) and others. Click here to access a complete map with data for all Cincinnati zip codes. Pinpointing causes for discrepancies in IMRs is difficult, but the following are common causes of death in infants under one year old, according to the Ohio Department of Health: • Prematurity/low birth weight (prematurity is the No. 1 cause of infant death) • Congenital anomalies• Sudden infant death syndromeThese abnormalities are distributed differently across demographics, especially varying across race brackets. According to Maseru, the key to reducing rates locally is uniting area hospitals in an effort to provide a comprehensive continuum of care, beginning with monitoring prenatal development and spanning across the delivery experience into post-partum care. That continuum should encompass post-partum home visits, psycho-social counseling and education on nutritional support, domestic violence, etc., especially focusing on families in "high-risk" zip codes. For the past several years, the Cincinnati Health Department has teamed up with University Hospital for the Maternal/Infant Health Improvement Project, a partnership uses that continuum of care to meld public health strategies and medical expertise to reduce IMR rates in University Hospital, and according to the data presented to the Rules and Governance Committee on Wednesday, the system is working. Maseru says that over the five-year span from 2006-2010, the Health Department/University Hospital partnership yielded a 10.6 IMR rate, which marks about a 20 percent difference from Cincinnati's overall rate. The next effort, Maseru says, will be expanding that partnership into a network that applies the strategies the Improvement Project has been using to other local area hospitals, such as Good Samaritan and Christ Hospital, who account for 85 percent of Cincinnati deliveries annually. "It's all about achieving health equity," says Maseru. He hopes a successful parternship could bring IMR rates across every Cincinnati zip code down to single digits by 2014.