Health

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In the first weeks of December, reported cases of the flu in Wyoming nearly tripled, signaling an early spike in infection rates. Natrona and Laramie counties have seen the highest numbers of reported cases.

Another reason for concern is that since the development of this season’s flu vaccine, the strain of flu virus most commonly contracted has changed slightly. That means the vaccine is less effective than usual in preventing cases of the flu.

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is recruiting internal medicine doctors after the recent closure of a busy clinic left many patients without a doctor.  Internal medicine physicians practice the general health care of adults the way pediatricians do for children.

Hospital CEO Margo Karsten says the same thing that’s a challenge in attracting good doctors to Wyoming is also what can lure people to the area.  

CDC Global / Flickr

 

 

This year’s extensive coverage of the Ebola epidemic has raised questions about the U.S healthcare system’s abilities to handle such a disease. A new report by the Trust for America’s Health shows Wyoming’s healthcare system is unprepared for a serious outbreak of that kind.

 

The study graded states in 10 areas of preparedness. Wyoming received 3 out of a possible 10 points.

Early next year, a Denver-based health organization will launch the very first telephone quit line specifically for American Indians looking to stop smoking tobacco. The service will be available in Wyoming and several other states. 

National Jewish Health in Denver has been operating successful telephone quitlines for more than a decade. But with quit rates flat-lining, the group has decided to target a specific demographic with its American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program.

A proposed measure in Wyoming’s legislature would give terminally ill patients access to drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Patients would be able to access drugs and devices that have already successfully completed clinical trials and shown promise to be effective, but are not yet approved by the FDA. The drug’s manufacturer would then work with patients and doctors to provide the experimental drug.Republican State Senator Bruce Burns is sponsoring the bill. He says this bill could offer hope to patients who have run out of options.

The United Health Foundation says Wyoming has fallen 8 in spots in the organization’s annual health rankings.

Wyoming ranks 25th for overall health in 2014.  Foundation spokeswoman Kristin Hellmer says Wyoming lost ground in the number of people who consider themselves physically active and the numbers of people who are obese.  She says obesity can lead to chronic illness.  Hellmer urges health officials to be proactive.

Wyoming Department of Health

Diabetes in Wyoming has spiked in recent years. The Wyoming Department of Health says almost 9% of adults in Wyoming now have the disease, up from 4.5% in 2001.

Joe Grandpre is an epidemiologist with the Department of Health and says while that rate is already high, some areas of the population have been affected even more.

“So we have about 7.9 percent in white non-Hispanics in Wyoming," says Grandpre. "But in our American Indian population it’s 19.5, so almost one on five of our American Indian adults has been told they have diabetes. And with Hispanics it’s 13.7.”

Obesity rates around the country are rising drastically, and Wyoming  is no different - that’s according to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Around 27.8% of the adult population in Wyoming is obese, nearly double the rate 20 years ago.

Between 2012 and 2013, the state’s obesity rate rose 3.2%. That was one of the biggest spikes in the nation.

Joe Grandpre with the Wyoming Department of Health says the reasons for the state’s growing waistbands are simple.

Wyoming ranks as the 17th healthiest state in the nation.  The rankings from the United Health Foundation say the state has a low percentage of children in poverty, low violent crime rate, and low levels of air pollution. But the Foundations’ Bill Mandell says there are three main areas of concern:

The nonprofit organization Wyoming Dementia Care received a five thousand dollar grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America last week.

Wyoming Dementia Care provides cost-free social support and information to dementia sufferers, their families, and their caregivers.

Carol Crump with WDC says that the organization’s most popular service is a series of support groups for caregivers, who are often the dementia sufferer’s family.

Wyomingites who want to quit tobacco have new tools available to them.

Wyoming Department of Health has partnered with National Jewish Health, a Denver hospital specializing in respiratory health, to beef up the Cowboy state’s tobacco cessation program.

The health department already offers nicotine patches and gum, coaching, and some financial help to cover smoking-cessation drugs. Now, it also offers counseling for pregnant tobacco users and people who chew.

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