Health

Craig A. Miller

Governor Matt Mead is hosting the Second Annual Symposium on Suicide Prevention on May 10 in Cheyenne at the Little America Hotel. The event will present a variety of perspectives, from lived experience to prevention to treatment, and it’ll focus on solutions to an issue that touches the lives of far too many in Wyoming.

SageWest Health Care

Patients of SageWest Health Care in Lander who had surgery between December 2013 and October 2016 could have been exposed to non-sterile surgical equipment.

The Department of Health investigated the hospital four different times over the past three years, after surgeons reported visibly contaminated surgical instruments that were supposed to be sterile.

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As the January 31 deadline approaches to sign up for health insurance under the government’s health care marketplace, Senate Republicans are beginning plans to repeal the law that created that program.

It’s still unclear how lawmakers will replace the Affordable Care Act if it is repealed, and experts around the country are unsure what a reformed health care system should look like.

Adapt Pharma

Deputies with the Albany County Sheriff’s office and University of Wyoming police department officers have been trained to use Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, in hopes of preventing drug-related deaths.

Opioid overdoses have been on the rise nationally, and Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said the Laramie area has experienced several such deaths in the last couple of years.

It’s impossible for someone using substances to know when they might overdose, said O’Malley, partly because it’s not easy to know the strength of narcotics.

Recover Wyoming

Earlier this month, authors in a new anthology on drug and alcohol recovery in Wyoming presented their work in Cheyenne.         

Laura Griffith is the founder of Recover Wyoming in Cheyenne and a former Wyoming Department of Health Treatment Manager. In the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division, Griffith took part in a special training called the Emerging Leaders of Recovery. 

PETER FRANZ / Flickr

The Wyoming Department of Health is asking for public input on tobacco sales violations, especially businesses selling to people under the age of 18. According to the national standard, each state is expected to keep the number of tobacco venders that have violated the laws below 20 percent.

According Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s Laran Despain, Wyoming’s violation rate since 2000 has been well below that with an average of 8 percent.

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Following the election, family planning centers in Wyoming say they saw a sharp increase in women seeking long-term contraceptives. But that surge has not been accompanied by increased funding for the cash-strapped clinics.

Nationwide, donations have poured into reproductive health organizations like Planned Parenthood, but in Wyoming, there is only one Planned Parenthood clinic, in Casper.

Wyoming saw higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and other sexual transmitted diseases in 2015 compared to reports from the previous year, according to recent data released by the Department of Health.

The report shows a 3 percent increase in chlamydia cases and a 150 percent rise in gonorrhea. Young people aged 15 to 24 accounted for a majority of these infections, which health officials say can have lasting health impacts.

United States Department of Agriculture

Recent data shows that childhood obesity rates among low-income families have decreased in Wyoming, down from nearly 11.8 percent in 2010 to 9.9 percent in 2014. 

healthcare.gov

On November 1, people will be able to sign up for this year’s round of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming’s rates are expected to increase by roughly seven percent, and while the increase will be less than some other states, Wyoming’s insurance prices are typically among the highest in the country.

Public Domain

Attitudes toward marijuana use appear to be slightly changing in Wyoming. The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s election year survey revealed an increase in support for legalizing marijuana for both personal and medical use.

However, WYSAC researcher Brian Harnisch said residents view each of those issues differently.

“A majority of Wyoming residents still oppose the recreational use of marijuana,” said Harnish. “While at the same time we have sort of an overwhelming majority of Wyoming residents that support the legalization for medical purposes.”

Wyoming Center On Aging

An upcoming Laramie workshop will work to empower people dealing with chronic disease. The Wyoming Center on Aging (WyCOA) at the University of Wyoming adopted Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and called the program “Healthy U.”

Wyoming will be the fiftieth state to offer the program.

Wyoming has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, but last week, the state joined the National Crisis Text Line to make it easier for people at risk of suicide to reach out for help. 

People can text "WYO" to 741-741 and hear back from a crisis counselor within five minutes. The counselors can help them talk through their problems, and then help them find services in their communities. 

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Wyoming NORML and Wyoming Purple Cross, medical marijuana advocate groups in the state, are hosting a public meeting to discuss the Peggy A. Kelly Wyoming Cannabis Act. Right now, the groups are working to get enough signatures to put the issue on the 2017 ballot. This would allow voters to decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report reveals 29 percent of adults in Wyoming are obese, which puts Wyoming in 30th place nationwide.

The report was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. Spokesman Don Schwarz says Wyoming’s numbers have remained stable in the last few years. But when you look at the long term trends, the outlook is more problematic. In the mid-90s only 15 percent of Wyoming adults were overweight. Since then, obesity rates have doubled.

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A new program led by the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy will study how Type 2 diabetes patients around the state manage their disease.

As part of the Integrated Pharmacist Program, pharmacists take an online training on motivational interviewing. That way, when patients come into the pharmacy for diabetes or hypertension medication they can ask them questions about how they can focus their goals to better manage their condition.

American Cancer Society

According to a report by the American Cancer Society’s Action Network, Wyoming could do much more to reduce cancer rates. Each year, the report evaluates ten different policy areas that deal with prevention and quality of treatment in each state. Out of those ten areas, Wyoming only did well in two—oral chemotherapy fairness and funding for the state tobacco prevention program.

Beth.herlin via Wikipedia Commons

A Campbell County woman caught the Zika virus while traveling outside the country, and after her return started showing symptoms like fever, rash and joint paint. Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says Wyoming was one of the last states to report a case.

The virus spreads through a certain type of mosquito, but Deti says those mosquitos cannot survive in Wyoming.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Title 25 program is $13 million dollars over budget and a group of legislators and others were told this week that reforms and policy changes are needed to slow down that spending. 

Title 25 covers court ordered hospitalizations for mental health and substance abuse patients. The state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to house those who need services, so the state has to pay private providers for that care. Natrona, Fremont, and Sweetwater County are driving the costs.  

Conniemod, Wikipedia Creative Commons

Wyoming Department of Health officials say Wyoming’s relatively high elevation could put people here more at risk for skin cancer.

“The thought process may be something closer to ‘Oh, I’m just going to go for a 30-minute run,’”said Morgan Powell with Wyoming Integrated Cancer Services. “But what they don’t realize is that the sun can damage our skin in as little as 15 minutes at our altitude.”

One22

Three non-profits that serve Teton County's lowest income residents and Latino community are merging into a single entity called One22. The Community Resource Center serves low-income residents who find themselves in crisis often due to housing or medical challenges. The center is merging with the Latino Resource Center and El Puente. 

The new group's Executive Director Mary Erickson says the merger will build better relationships with clients.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Due to declining revenues the Wyoming Department of Health has been told to cut $90 million from its budget, that’s a nine percent reduction, the largest cut faced by any state agency. It will impact the two year budget that begins July first.

Director Tom Forslund said the loss of state funds also means the Department will lose an additional $43 million in federal matching money. Had the legislature voted to expand Medicaid it would have softened the blow, especially since the Department could shift some money from its budget to pay upfront costs. 

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

Wyoming’s current economic decline is beginning to effect the financial wellness of hospitals across the state. Earlier this week, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper announced they would cut 58 positions in order to balance their budget.

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

The Wyoming Medical Center in Casper has cut 58 positions to meet budget reductions due to a downturn in the local economy. The hospital says they also don’t plan to fill 57 vacancies.

Medical Center CEO Vicki Diamond said the reductions will save the organization over $7 million dollars, but cuts will not harm medical services. For example, no nurses were reduced. 

Chief Financial Officer Yvonne Wiggington said fewer people have insurance and that has led to a rise in charity care and bad debt.

The Fifth Vital Sign

The Fifth Vital Sign, a traveling reproductive healthcare team, will be speaking on the University of Wyoming’s campus Wednesday night.

Wyoming Medical Center

This February, the email accounts of two Wyoming Medical Center employees were compromised in a phishing scam. A phishing scam is an email that looks like it came from a credible source, and tricks the recipient into providing passwords and usernames in an attempt to access sensitive information. The scam won't work if the recipient ignores the email, and doesn't open any links.

When the two Wyoming Medical Center employees opened the email in a phishing scam, they potentially compromised the information of nearly 3,200 patients.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health has received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help expand treatment for prescription drug and heroin abuse in the state. The administration has flagged Wyoming as an at-risk state due to recent increases in heroin and other opioid use among the state's residents.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A new report, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Wyoming's urban counties are far healthier than its rural ones. The annual report shows that people in Teton County are Wyoming's healthiest while its least healthy are in Fremont County. The report ranks health by rates of premature death.

Flickr user USACE Europe District / Flickr - Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Health has reported an increase in flu activity, and is encouraging residents to take steps to avoid spreading the virus or becoming ill.

Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, says that last year’s season was especially severe with 29 influenza-related deaths reported in Wyoming. She also says that it is not too late to get the vaccine, since the timing of peak flu activity can vary from season to season.

William Brawley via Flickr Creative Commons

Teton County has seen a big uptick recently in cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Health officials have confirmed eight cases in the county this year, which represents one third of those in Wyoming.

Whooping cough is a bacterial disease that’s easily transmitted from person to person. Teton County Public Health Officer Travis Riddell says it’s hard to diagnose and especially dangerous for infants.

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