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  • How health insurance prices vary by region Dec 12, 2014 5:41 PM
    An analysis conducted for The Associated Press found that average insurance prices are rising in some parts of Illinois, but not in Chicago where competition is strong.

  • Report: Superbugs could soon kill more people than cancer Dec 12, 2014 4:18 PM
    Overuse and abuse of antibiotics has helped build up bacterial resistance, making it hard to fight off many common illnesses. Superbugs already cause 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States alone each year.

  • Hospital moves to expand trauma care in Chicago Dec 8, 2014 9:44 PM
    University of Chicago Medicine is taking steps to include 16- and 17-year-olds in its pediatric trauma program. Medical center officials said Monday they’re working with government officials to increase the age limit of the Level 1 pediatric trauma center at Comer Children’s Hospital.

  • Naperville community treats parents of sick kids just like family Dec 8, 2014 11:00 AM
    A visit to the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Edward Hospital is like a tour through the generosity of Naperville on a micro scale. The room is a well-stocked 1,700 square feet full of comforts for families of young patients in the pediatric or neonatal intensive care unit. “It’s compact, but we have a lot here,” said volunteer Jessica Jozwiak of Naperville. “Random acts of kindness are common here."

  • Medicare Advantage enrollment deadline looms Dec 7, 2014 7:41 AM
    Millions of Medicare Advantage customers are fast approaching a deadline for a task they’d rather avoid: Researching and then settling on coverage plans for 2015. The annual enrollment window for the privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for the elderly and disabled people closes on Sunday. This is the main opportunity most customers have each year to adjust their health coverage, and it may be worth paying extra attention to the details.

  • Gift Guide: Get better at sports with smart gear Dec 7, 2014 7:32 AM
    Advances in technology present sports enthusiasts with plenty of options to train better and smarter. High-level gear and biometric-analysis software are no longer limited to elite professional athletes. The weekender can now use some tech-savvy approaches to get better, perhaps, at a multitude of sports. Practice makes perfect, but technology can make practice better.

  • Get Covered Illinois targets rural areas, small towns Dec 4, 2014 3:59 PM
    Illinois is mailing information on President Barack Obama’s health care law to more than 53,000 homes this week as the campaign to promote insurance coverage reaches into rural areas and small cities in three parts of the state.

  • Good Shephered wins award for stroke treatment Dec 4, 2014 5:27 PM
    Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has received the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for the treatment of stroke patients. Get With The Guidelines helps hospitals provide the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

  • HealthCare.gov average premiums going up in 2015 Dec 4, 2014 12:07 PM
    Many HealthCare.gov customers will face higher costs next year, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday in a report that shows average premiums rising modestly. However, officials said millions of consumers who are currently enrolled can mitigate the financial consequences if they are willing to shop around for another plan in a marketplace that’s becoming more competitive.

  • Flu vaccine may be less effective this winter Dec 4, 2014 7:03 PM
    The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths. Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain seen most commonly so far this year. That strain tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the elderly.

  • Constable: Celebrating a unique talent takes unique talent Dec 4, 2014 11:59 AM
    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer might not have been a typical reindeer, but he got the job done for St. Nicholas. To celebrate Rudolph's 50th anniversary, student Ben Nicholas of Mount Prospect organizes a festive party with a 16-foot inflatable Rudolph for all the students at Miner School in Arlington Heights.

  • Central Indiana hospital cutting nearly 70 jobs Dec 2, 2014 6:22 AM
    A central Indiana hospital says it plans cutting nearly 70 jobs by outsourcing its surgical services operations. Officials of Marion General Hospital say in a state filing that the layoffs will take place in February and are expected to be permanent. The filing from the hospital doesn’t say whether the new contractor will be hiring any of those workers. Hospital officials said the outsourcing was part of continuing strategic initiatives for the facility in the Grant County city about midway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

  • Des Plaines sets impact fee for pot dispensary Dec 2, 2014 12:17 PM
    Any business that wants to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Des Plaines — and gets one of the coveted state licenses to do so — will be required to pay an annual $15,000 impact fee to defray police-related costs. Aldermen agreed unanimously Monday to impose the fee on any dispensary that operates within city limits, though so far, only one has expressed interest.

  • CDC: Circumcision benefits outweigh risks Dec 2, 2014 9:09 AM
    U.S. health officials on Tuesday released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, saying medical evidence supports having the procedure done and health insurers should pay for it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines stop short of telling parents to get their newborn sons circumcised. That is a personal decision that may involve religious or cultural preferences, said the CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin.

  • Des Plaines substance abuse program wins national award Dec 1, 2014 5:04 PM
    Presence Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines has garnered a national honor for its substance abuse support program. The hospital’s Keys to Reocovery program was awarded a Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for patient experience.

  • Indiana selects Hoosier Care Connect contractors Dec 1, 2014 5:44 AM
    Indiana has chosen Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, MDwise, Inc. and Managed Health Services of Indiana to provide health care services for about 84,000 blind, disabled and older Hoosiers. Those health services will serve Medicaid enrollees under the new Hoosier Care Connect program. The state’s Family and Social Services Administration hopes to begin that program in April. Individuals who are enrolled in Medicare and who live in an institutional setting or are enrolled in a home- and community-based services waiver won’t be enrolled but will continue to receive benefits as they now do. The state says Hoosier Care Connect’s goals include improving quality of care and clinical outcomes and ensuring enrollee choice.

  • Exercise in a bottle is next food frontier for Nestle Nov 30, 2014 7:00 AM
    The world’s biggest food company, known for KitKat candy bars and Nespresso capsules, says it has identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13, a potential first step in developing a way to mimic the fat-burning effect of exercise. The findings were published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology in July.

  • 10 million child deaths attributed to global lack of toilets Nov 30, 2014 7:44 AM
    In a world in which 14 percent of the population in the 21st century still defecate outdoors, children remain among the most vulnerable to a lack of toilets, contamination from human waste and dirty water. The young are suffering the brunt of a health and development crisis that has claimed the lives of at least 10 million children under the age of five since 2000 because they have no access to a basic toilet, according to a new report from the international development organization WaterAid. The United Nations, which designated today as World Toilet Day to highlight sanitation as a developmental priority, says about 35 percent — 2.5 billion of the planet’s 7 billion people — live without basic sanitation facilities such as toilets and latrines. That’s at a time when more people have mobile phones on Earth than a toilet. Globally, an estimated 1.8 billion drink fouled water that’s faecally contaminated, according to World Health Organization/UNICEF figures. Yet the water and sanitation picture isn’t all grim, said Jack Sim, the Singapore-based founder of the World Toilet Organization that spurred today’s UN events. From 1990 to 2012, 2.3 billion people around the world gained access to an improved drinking-water source, according to UN-Water data. In that time frame, child fatalities from diarrheal diseases — strongly associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene — fell from about 1.5 million to about 578,000 children four and younger who died last year from diarrheal causes, a Lancet study published last month showed. ‘Preventable Deaths’ The WHO estimates that 88 percent of diarrheal mortality among the young can be attributed to a lack of access to sanitation, clean water and hygiene. Which WaterAid calculated as about 508,000 children who died last year because those services weren’t available — “preventable deaths” as Sim said in a Nov. 17 phone interview from New York. In many poorer countries, no access to soap and water to wash hands and inadequate sanitation practices fuel the spread of disease, not only in households and communities but in schools and health centers. Poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in communities and institutional settings, especially health facilities, exacerbated the spread of Ebola in West Africa, according to medical authorities. ‘Ground zero’ In India, perhaps ground zero in the sanitation and faecal contamination battle, the government has set Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday in 2019 as its target for achieving “total sanitation,” including access to toilets for all 1.2 billion residents. India accounts for about 60 percent of Earth’s residents without toilets, highest in the world. Human and animal excrement that goes into its fields pollute groundwater, crops and waterways, causing diarrhea and cholera. Central to the problem is that for behavioral and other reasons, many in India with latrines don’t use them, said Payal Hathi, associate director of the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics. A “squat survey” in five Indian states of 22,000 people found that in 56 percent of the households surveyed, every member of the family was defecating in the open. Only 26 percent of the households used latrines. In 40 percent of the homes with an open latrine, at least one person didn’t use it. People with government-funded toilets, part of a plan to build 111 million within five years, are twice as likely to go out to defecate, Hathi said in New Delhi. The institute predicts that more than half the households will continue to defecate in the open even with the toilet-building program. ‘Deep-Seated Beliefs’ “Our survey shows deep-seated beliefs in the ideas about pollution and impurity,” Hathi said. Many think “having a toilet at home pollutes their home. Also, cleaning toilets and the pit dug for feces has been connected to certain castes.” And “many believe that walking out in the open in early mornings to defecate in the fields or open spaces is good for their health.” That’s one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s challenges in combating the sanitation problem, one that costs India 600,000 lives annually from diarrhea. An estimated 1.1 million liters (290,000 gallons) of excrement enters the Ganges River every minute, the revered 2,525-kilometer (1,570-mile) waterway Modi has promised to clean. India’s situation also exposes a third of its females to the risk of rape or sexual assault, a danger that gained worldwide attention in May when two girls from an Uttar Pradesh village were raped and hanged from a mango tree after they went outdoors to defecate. India’s 50 percent open defecation rate in contrast trails a 3 percent rate in Bangladesh and 1 percent in China, according to a May report by WHO and Unicef. Modi last year said if elected he’d construct “toilets first, temples later.” “Let’s be optimistic,” Sim said. Modi represents the future and those reluctant to accept building toilets across India should “think of the toilet as something normal, a lifestyle, sell it as a fashion, a status symbol.”

  • Brief infectious disease scare at Arlington Hts. clinic Nov 28, 2014 7:20 PM
    A medical clinic in Arlington Heights went into a brief lockdown Friday after a patient who had recently been in Africa walked in complaining of flu-like symptoms. The scare ended when it was determined the patient had not been in western Africa.

  • St. Charles woman provides hope in face of heroin scourge Dec 8, 2014 1:08 PM
    Lea Minalga formed the Geneva-based Hearts of Hope in 1998 to educate and prevent people from using heroin, to counsel addicts and provide support to their families. "It comes from the bowels of hell it's so addicting," said the St. Charles woman, whose son started using at 16 but is now 34 and heroin free.

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