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DULUTH — Disparities in health outcomes between Minnesota's "haves" and "have-nots" takes a $2.26 billion yearly toll on the state's economy, contends a leading health insurer. Although the state prides itself in being one of the leaders in national health statistics, people of color and low-income residents are left behind, said Janelle Waldock of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which commissioned "The Cost of Health Inequities in Minnesota."
ST. PAUL—The perception that most high school kids drink alcoholic beverages isn't true, the Minnesota Department of Health reports. And it's less true now — much less true — than it was at the beginning of the century.
An e-cigarette that looks like a pocket-sized computer device is alarming health officials because of its potency and popularity among teenagers. But area school officials say so far they haven't found the vaping pod known as Juul in their facilities. "We're familiar that they're out there," said Tim Rohweder, principal at Proctor High School. "I haven't seen one or confiscated one here at our school. I know that they're around."
DULUTH—Almost three years after marijuana was legalized for some medical purposes in Minnesota, some providers, patients and patients' loved ones say the program is frustrating, and the medicine, for many, is unaffordable. "I just think it's so sad why we can't set up a program that someone would find easier than (it is)," said Pat Mullen of Duluth. "They've got to find a way to inform people."
DULUTH — On top of an expected increase in uninsured patients, proposed cuts to a drug discount program would further threaten their bottom line, local hospital officials say. "The change that was proposed ... I think was somewhere between $3 million and $4 million (impact) on St. Luke's," said John Strange, CEO of St. Luke's hospital. At issue is the 340B drug discount program, created by Congress as part of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to give hospitals that serve low-income populations a price break.
DULUTH—Hospitals in northern Minn. and across the state have been scrambling to cope with a nationwide shortage of injectable opioid painkillers. "The supply is just inconsistent," said Gina Lemke, pharmacy director at St. Luke's hospital. "We can't place an order and trust that it's going to arrive." Given the effort to cut down on the number of opioids that are prescribed, it may seem ironic that there's a shortage of some opioids used in an injectable form. But in that setting, opioids still perform a needed function, pharmacists say.
DULUTH—Tyesha Nelson isn't down on medical marijuana, even though it didn't help her with her intractable pain. The 31-year Duluth woman "was placing all my bets on the medical marijuana" to relieve the pain from the rheumatoid arthritis with which she had been diagnosed at age 23, she said on Wednesday, Feb. 28. She had a dose in August 2016, soon after intractable pain was added as an approved condition for treatment with medical cannabis in Minnesota. Not only did it fail to relieve her pain, Nelson said, it "gave me the worst anxiety I ever experienced in my life."
DULUTH—A sexual assault on a patient in Hibbing is among 341 "adverse health events" that occurred at Minnesota hospitals and surgical centers between October 2016 and October 2017, according to an annual report released Thursday, Feb. 22. The events ranged from falls resulting in serious injury to pressure sores to "surgery/other invasive procedure performed on wrong patient," according to the report compiled by the Minnesota Department of Health.
DULUTH—The number of Minnesota high school youth vaping e-cigarettes has risen nearly 50 percent in three years, a statistic state health officials described as alarming on Thursday, Feb. 15. "These findings really should be a red flag for us, a worry," said state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm during a news conference to unveil results of the Minnesota Department of Health's triennial Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. "E-cigarettes do pose a serious health concern for our youth, as nearly all of these products contain nicotine."
For believers with tight schedules who still want to mark a significant day in the church year, a West Duluth church is offering drive-through Ash Wednesday services. "It's an opportunity for us to say, 'Hey, if you're working a shift that you can't come Wednesday night or maybe you have little kids' ... to still have that experience of prayer and confession and receiving ashes," said the Rev. Liz Davis, pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 4831 Grand Ave.