State Highlights: Free-Standing ERs Boom In Texas; Maryland’s Mental Health ‘Mistake’
Outlets report on health news from Texas, Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and California.
The Dallas Morning News:
Are Free-Standing Emergency Rooms Helping Only The Wealthy?
Business is booming in Texas for free-standing emergency departments. But just because the state is home to more of them than any other place in the country doesn't mean there's equal access for all. Your ZIP code may determine whether there will be one available near you. The centers are emerging in wealthier neighborhoods, where patients are privately insured and are less likely to have Medicaid or Medicare, finds a study published in July in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. (Rice, 8/2)
The Baltimore Sun:
Maryland Health Chief Says It Was Mistake Not To Seek More Money For Mental Health Beds
Maryland's top health official told a Baltimore judge Tuesday that he should have asked for more money in this year's state budget to relieve a bed shortage that has prompted his department to turn away patients from state mental hospitals. Van T. Mitchell, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was summoned to court to explain why he and five other top department officials should not be held in civil contempt for failing to carry out court orders to admit criminal defendants in a timely manner. (Dresser, 8/2)
The Denver Post:
State Must Hire Independent Consultant To Track Mental Competency Evaluations For Inmates
The state human services department must hire an independent consultant to track how quickly it completes mental competency evaluations for inmates facing criminal charges as part of a new federal agreement. The department and Disability Law Colorado, which accused the state of letting inmates “languish in jail, in dangerous and debilitating conditions” as they waited months for mental health evaluations and treatment, have filed a joint motion to dismiss their latest legal dispute after settling in mediation. (Brown, 8/2)
The Associated Press:
Hawaii Gets $3.7M To Fight Infectious Diseases
A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant was among the people in Hawaii infected with Hepatitis A. The state Department of Health says the attendant was on 33 flights from Honolulu to California, Nevada, Australia and Hawaii's neighbor islands in July and served food and drinks to passengers. The risk of airline passengers contracting Hepatitis A from a flight attendant is extremely low because flight attendants are well trained in terms of maintaining hygiene, said Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. (8/2)
Abandoned Babies Highlight Importance Of Publicity For 'Safe Haven' Law, Officials Say
Three abandoned babies found in Central Florida in recent months have drawn attention to the state's "Safe Haven" law and led to questions about the way the program is publicized...The law allows new mothers to drop off an infant 7 days old or younger with a person at a "safe haven" — a fire station, EMS facility or hospital — no questions asked. (Harris, 8/2)
Georgia Health News:
Piedmont-United Deadlock: Are Things Bumpy Or Downright Bleak?
The contract impasse between Piedmont and UnitedHealthcare has now entered its second month, and the two sides have very different versions of where things stand. ...Their former contract ended July 1 without a new deal in place, meaning that five Piedmont hospitals and hundreds of the system’s doctors went “out of network” for tens of thousands of United’s members in Georgia. Contract renewal disputes are usually settled in time, though often at the last minute. (Miller, 8/2)
Torchlight’s Portal Helps Parents Care For Children, And Vice Versa
Based in Burlington, torchlight is an online service that provides family members with tools and information to help care for a relative with special medical needs. The service is bought by companies and provided to employees as a free benefit. Founded to help parents of special needs children, torchlight recently launched a new offering for adult children who need help with their elderly parents. Families can get an assessment of the care that’s needed and be pointed to treatment options and assistance programs. (Bray, 8/2)
A Boston First: Medical Marijuana For Sale
It’s been a long road with more than a few bumps, but Boston’s first medical marijuana dispensary is finally ready for its expected grand opening Wednesday. The Milk Street shop, across from the historic Old South Meeting House, is equipped with infrared security cameras, a foyer, and a waiting area for overflow crowds, and will probably have Boston police working special details “quite a bit” to ensure safe operations, according to company officials. Even before it opened its doors, more than 200 state-certified patients had preregistered with Patriot Care to shop in the dispensary, and company leaders said they were prepared to handle at least 150 customers a day. (Lazar, 8/3)
When Pot Is Legal, How Do You Convince Teens To Abstain?
From the start, the campaign to make California the fifth state allowing adult marijuana use has sought to reassure skeptical parents by emphasizing safeguards to prevent those under the age of 21 from partaking. The first sentence of proponents’ case in a state voter guide promises Proposition 64 will create a well-regulated system “while protecting our children.” ...The initiative that will go before voters in November would block selling or advertising pot near schools and youth centers, mandate child-proof packaging, allow for stripping licenses from businesses that sell to people younger than 21 and use the green revenue stream to fund youth prevention and programming. (White, 8/2)