health

Red Cross CEO and her daughter are on a quest to fight Sickle Cell

Red Cross CEO and her daughter are on a quest to fight Sickle Cell

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and it is estimated that 100,000 people across the U.S. live with the genetically inherited blood disease. Georgia is home to 10 percent of the population affected by this crippling and life-threatening disorder, which distorts smooth, round blood cells, turning them hard and crescent-shaped. For Dee Dixon, newly appointed CEO for the American Red Cross of Georgia, and her daughter, Kyra, advocating for a diverse blood supply and sickle cell awareness is a personal mission. While the mother and daughter do not have sickle cell disease, both inherited the sickle cell trait and have…
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Georgians are signing up for Obamacare in record numbers

Georgians are signing up for Obamacare in record numbers

Georgia had the third-highest number of people signing up for coverage during this year’s special enrollment period for the federally run health insurance exchanges. The state’s 147,000 enrollees were exceeded only by Florida and Texas among the 36 states that use the healthcare.gov enrollment platform, according to federal data recently released. Exchange enrollment — like open enrollment for many employer health plans — is normally finished before the coverage year begins, and only people who have had a significant family or coverage change can apply outside that window. But this year, the Biden administration extended the enrollment period to Aug. 15, citing…
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Lawmakers want to fix rural Georgia’s woes

Lawmakers want to fix rural Georgia’s woes

Rural Georgia is suffering from failing schools, inadequate health care and lack of economic opportunity, conditions that make politicians’ boasts the state is No. 1 for doing business ring hollow. That’s the message Georgia lawmakers heard this week from experts who have been studying the plight of the Peach State’s rural communities for years. “With the exception of 11 or 12 counties, much of Georgia is in a very distressed situation,” David Bridges, interim director of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, told members of the House Rural Development Council Wednesday. “If we’re going to be the No.-1…
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Help is on the way for Georgia hospitals swamped with COVID patients

Help is on the way for Georgia hospitals swamped with COVID patients

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is doubling the staffing help that the state is sending to hospitals grappling with shortages of nurses, respiratory therapists and other workers amid the latest COVID-19 surge. The staffing help expands the supply of temporary workers that the state is providing from 1,300 to 2,800, Kemp told a news conference Monday. It will be executed through the continuation of the state’s no-bid contract with a private Alpharetta-based staffing firm, Jackson Healthcare and its HWL subsidiary, state officials said. GHN recently reported that the contract, which began with the first wave of COVID in Georgia last year, has…
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Georgia resident dies after contracting illness from mosquito bite

Georgia resident dies after contracting illness from mosquito bite

An adult resident of Liberty County died recently after contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis from a mosquito bite. The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no way to verify exactly where the virus was contracted, and everyone is encouraged to take precautions against mosquito bites. EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain. In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. The Georgia Department of Public Health's Coastal Health District is urging all Horse and large animal owners to vaccinate their animals against the virus and…
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‘They can’t take it anymore:’ Nurse shortage complicates COVID surge

‘They can’t take it anymore:’ Nurse shortage complicates COVID surge

Across Georgia on Wednesday, dozens of hospitals were reporting severe ER crowding and various forms of “diversion ” — sending patients elsewhere due to capacity problems. The Delta variant of COVID-19, sweeping through the state, is rapidly increasing case numbers and hospitalizations. But exacerbating the current patient crunch is the ever-worsening shortage of health care workers in the state, especially nurses. Those shortages are hamstringing the ability of hospitals to respond to the medical crisis. The nursing shortage in the state is worse than ever, Matt Caseman, CEO of the Georgia Nurses Association, said Wednesday. Many of the RNs who…
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Lower prices and more options ahead for Georgia’s health insurance exchange

Lower prices and more options ahead for Georgia’s health insurance exchange

Plenty of shopping options, plus lower prices. That’s usually a winning formula for consumers. And that scenario describes how Georgia’s health insurance exchange is shaping up for individuals and families looking for coverage in 2022, according to initial filings by health insurers to the state’s insurance department. The filings were obtained by GHN through an open records request. Five insurers are proposing to enter the individual exchange for 2022, bringing the state’s total to 11. Three had dropped out in earlier years – Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Cigna – and two are new entrants to the market, Bright Health and Friday…
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National Play Outside Day is Saturday

National Play Outside Day is Saturday

National Play Outside Day happens a dozen times a year — it's that important. The next occurrence is August 7, and as the summer season winds down, it's a good time to make a habit of active play as a family. Playing on school grounds was once a daily part of kids' lives, but recess isn’t a guaranteed part of the school day anymore, and parents must make a concerted effort to add physical activity into their child’s day, says Diane Bales, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension human development specialist. “Children used to walk to school, have recess daily…
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Here’s where Georgia ranks for obesity

Here’s where Georgia ranks for obesity

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. is a major health issue, and it's getting worse. The current national adult obesity rate is 29.7%, but almost half of adults are projected to be obese, not just overweight, by 2030, according to Harvard researchers estimates published in December 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine. While the country as a whole is facing an obesity crisis, the problem is much more pronounced in some states. Georgia is the state with the 21st highest adult obesity rate in the U.S. About 32.3% of adult residents report a body mass index of 30…
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Georgia sees jump in opioid deaths

Georgia sees jump in opioid deaths

There’s no real profile for the victims. They don’t appear to fit into any particular economic, racial or ethnic grouping. The rising numbers of opioid overdoses “seem to hit everyone,’’ says Dr. Dan McCollum, an emergency medicine physician at Augusta University Medical Center. “It hits all economic strata.’’ Even age is no longer the factor it used to be. Overdose patients coming into ERs are increasingly middle-aged and older, as compared to youthful drug users in past decades, he said Friday. “We’re seeing a great deal of fentanyl being used,’’ he added. “The scary thing is that is hits so fast.…
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Will Georgia keep healthcare.gov or have its own health exchange?

Will Georgia keep healthcare.gov or have its own health exchange?

Georgia officials have pushed back against a federal health agency’s request for more financial information on the state’s insurance waiver plan. A letter dated July 2 says that Georgia’s approach to replace the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare.gov enrollment set-up with a privately run process has already been approved by the feds. The Georgia “Section 1332’’ waiver has also attracted much interest from insurers and potential vendors, the state says. The letter asserts that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ recent request for more financial information “came as a surprise’’  and does not follow the approved waiver process. The political context…
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Health care in Georgia ranks second worst in the nation

Health care in Georgia ranks second worst in the nation

The U.S. health care system faced new levels of scrutiny in the past year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There were shortages of medical masks, ICU beds, as well as nurses. But even before the pandemic, some states were much better equipped to handle both everyday health needs -- and the pandemic -- than others. There are many states in which residents are much more likely to lack health care insurance. In many of these states, there are also fewer medical professionals relative to the population, which can hinder access to care, as well as underfunded medical hospitals. The health care…
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Georgia is behind every other state in nursing home inspections

Georgia is behind every other state in nursing home inspections

Georgia is last in the nation in conducting recertification inspections of its nursing homes, according to a recent media report. By the end of March, nearly 80 percent of Georgia facilities had gone for at least 18 months without these comprehensive inspections, said the investigation report by CNHI, a newspaper company. Georgia’s backlog surpassed those of every other state, exceeding the 76 percent in Maryland and Oregon, and easily topping the national average of 51 percent. The CNHI data follow similar findings on Georgia inspections by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last fall. Inspection delays didn’t escape the attention of lawmakers. The fiscal year…
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Good To Know: Georgia hospitals are required to make prices available

Good To Know: Georgia hospitals are required to make prices available

Jan. 1 marked the launch of a federal rule on medical prices that the hospital industry fought hard to stop. For the first time, each hospital was required to publish a website file showing the payment rates it had negotiated with insurers, and another post that would let consumers search for hundreds of “shoppable’’ medical services. The Trump administration rule drew a lawsuit from the American Hospital Association, a suit that was rejected by a federal appeals court. So far, about half of Georgia hospitals have complied correctly with the requirements, says Turquoise Health, a California-based start-up that’s tracking the pricing…
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Here are the health care reforms that could come to Georgia

Here are the health care reforms that could come to Georgia

Monday shapes up as a pivotal day for high-profile health bills as the General Assembly enters its final week. Those expected to get a Senate floor vote include a bill that would establish rules for cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms. Senators will also consider a recently gutted measure involving visits to people in hospitals and long-term care facilities. And a third proposal, which has raised some concerns after recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado, would expand gun rights here. The timing is crucial for all pending bills. The Legislature adjourns Wednesday. Conflicts between House and Senate leaders over…
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