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  • 23 Aug 2021 4:52 PM | Anonymous

    Many children's hospitals in the South and Midwest have reported an uptick in pediatric cases over the past six weeks as the delta variant rapidly spread among unvaccinated people. Facilities in these regions are preparing for a potential spike in cases linked to school reopenings by hiring more nurses, updating discharge protocols and improving room cleaning efficiency, among other efforts. 

    COVID-19 hospitalizations among children are at the highest level since HHS started tracking them last year, and some children's hospitals are preparing for surges to worsen as schools reopen, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 22.

    Children's Hospital New Orleans has had up to 20 kids hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past three weeks, about half of whom didn't have underlying conditions, according to the hospital's Physician-in-Chief Mark Kline, MD. Last year, the hospital never saw more than seven pediatric hospitalizations at a time, and most involved kids with underlying health issues, Dr. Kline said. 

    In preparation for a school-related surge, the hospital has hired about 150 new nurses to start over the next few weeks, converted more hospital beds to intensive care unit beds and expanded its emergency department to hold more patients who can't immediately be admitted, Dr. Kline said.

    Full article here

  • 20 Aug 2021 1:31 PM | Anonymous

    U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, unveiled new legislation this week to educate healthcare providers on evidence-based youth suicide prevention initiatives. 

    From 2007 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide rates among young Americans increased 56 percent.  

    The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act (Download HB 5035) would invest in educating health care providers in evidence-based youth suicide prevention initiatives 

    Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to accelerate these tragic trends. From 2007 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide rates among young Americans increased 56 percent.  

    Health care providers play a critical role in identifying young people who might be at risk for self-harm or suicide. However, many health care professionals do not receive the training and resources they need to identify and respond to warning signs for suicide among their patients. The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would address this by providing evidence-based training on youth suicide prevention to current and future health care professionals.  Additionally, the bill creates a centralized database for that at-risk youth and their family members, medical and nursing schools, and health care professionals can turn to for best practices in lethal means safety and suicide prevention. 

    In a new video, Underwood shares the story of Bill and Patti Hartmann from McHenry, IL who lost their son in 2008 to suicide. 

    Click here to watch the video.  

    “Since the start of the pandemic, I have met with students and families across the 14th District of Illinois, and I’ve heard so many tragic stories of young people struggling with new or worsening mental health challenges—even suicidal thoughts. And no matter who I’m talking to—whether it’s a farmer, parent, or a teacher —they have all told me about the need for action to keep our kids safe. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act,” said Rep. Underwood. “My legislation will expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention initiatives in communities like ours so that we can save lives and prevent these tragedies.” 


  • 19 Aug 2021 7:50 PM | Anonymous

    Climate Change Report- The United Nations this month released a major climate change report, the first of its kind in eight years. The report outlines what scientists know about global warming and informs policy makers how to slow the planet’s rising temperatures. All of the world’s 195 countries participated in the report’s development, with hundreds of scientists assessing studies from around the world.

    The report’s main conclusions — that humans are causing climate change, that temperatures will rise if we don’t cut emissions, and that weather is getting more extreme — didn’t surprise community health specialist Elena Grossman, MPH. Grossman is principal investigator at BRACE-Illinois, a CDC-funded project based at the University of Illinois Chicago that since 2012 has guided the state’s public health system in responding to climate change.

    Full article here>

    Download Regional Fact Sheet here> 

    Download Slides here>


  • 18 Aug 2021 8:51 AM | Anonymous

    Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday (8.16.2021) signed into law a legislative package aimed at addressing the cost of prescription drugs. 

    One law establishes a prescription drug repository program, which will allow unexpired and unopened prescription and over-the-counter medications to be returned to pharmacies and reused for eligible populations.

    "(The program) opens up another avenue for Illinois healthcare to be able to help those who are underinsured or unemployed and not able to afford their medication,” Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, said in a statement.

    Pritzker also signed a proposal that requires pharmacies to provide customers with the retail price of a prescription drug, in writing and electronically, prior to purchase and make it clear if a customer's cost-sharing price for a prescription exceeds the current pharmacy retail price.

    "(The bill) establishes truth and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry," said Senate sponsor Scott M. Bennett, D-Champaign.

    Both laws take effect Jan. 1, 2022.


  • 17 Aug 2021 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Illinois is the first state to require regular Alzheimer’s disease training for licensed healthcare professionals, after Gov. JB Pritzker greenlit the proposal Monday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

    The law, effective Jan. 1, 2023, requires providers with direct patient interaction with adults older than 25 to complete at least a one-hour course in diagnosis, treatment and care of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

    "Early detection is key to treatment,” House sponsor Rep. Kathleen Willis. D-Northlake, said in a statement. She said 230,000 Illinois residents are living with Alzheimer’s.

    And he approved a measure, effective immediately, requiring that long-term care facilities and hospitals, upon request, facilitate at least one daily phone or video call between a resident or patient and their family member during a public health emergency.

    Delia Jervier, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said the laws will help address disparities in care, as Black and Latinx residents are more likely to develop Alzheimer's than their white counterparts.

    “Illinois is leading the nation as we seek to be a dementia-capable state until a cure or prevention is found,” Jervier said.


  • 16 Aug 2021 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have developed a new sample preparation method to detect SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The method bypasses extraction of the virus' genetic RNA material, simplifying sample purification and potentially reducing test time and cost. The method is the result of a collaboration among researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), the NIH Clinical Center (CC), and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NID CR).

    Diagnostic testing remains a crucial tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Standard tests for detection of SARS -CoV-2 involve amplifying viral RNA to detectable levels using a technique called quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR). But first, the RNA must be extracted from the sample . Manufacturers of RNA extraction kits have had difficulty keeping up with demand during the COVID-19 pandemic , hindering testing capacity worldwide. With new virus variants emerging, the need for better, faster tests is greater than ever.

    A team led by Robert B. Hufnagel, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the NEI Medical Genetics and Ophthalmic Genomic Unit, and Bin Guan, Ph.D., a fellow at the Ophthalmic Genomics Laboratory at NEI, used a chelating agent made by the lab supply company Bio-Rad called Chelex 100 resin to preserve SARS-CoV-2 RNA in samples for detection by RT-qPCR.

    "We used nasopharyngeal and saliva samples with various virion concentrations to evaluate whether they could be used for direct RNA detection ," said Guan , the lead author of a report on the technique, which published this week in iScience. "The answer was yes, with markedly high sensitivity. Also, this preparation inactivated the virus, making it safer for lab personnel to handle positive samples."

    See full article here. 


  • 13 Aug 2021 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, killing more than  186,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University  in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner. 

    This dashboard has tracked five categories of impact since summer 2020 as well as vaccination rates of nursing home residents and health care staff for the last two months and is updated every month to track trends over time.

    Read more here>


  • 12 Aug 2021 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    Racial and ethnic disparities in maternal mortality — deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth — in the United States may be larger than previously reported, suggests a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. By re-examining information on death certificates from 2016 and 2017, researchers found that the maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black women was 3.5 times higher than among non-Hispanic white women. Previously, standard analyses had indicated a 2.5-times-higher death rate for Black women.

    The new analysis also revealed that these disparities were concentrated among a few causes of death. Postpartum cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) and the blood pressure disorders preeclampsia and eclampsia were leading causes of maternal death for Black women, with mortality rates five times higher than those for white women. Pregnant and postpartum Black women were two to three times more likely than white women to die of hemorrhage (severe bleeding) or embolisms (blood vessel blockages).

    For full article> 

    To download a PDF copy of the article, click here.


  • 11 Aug 2021 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    Federal lawmakers announced last month plans to launch a new bipartisan caucus intended to address social determinants of health.

    Co-chairing the caucus is U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, who recently told Health News Illinois it has been an issue of long-time interest for her. 

    The co-chairs include US Representatives Tom Cole (OK-04), G.K. Butterfiled (NC-01), and Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). 

    The Congressional Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Caucus will explore opportunities to improve the impact of services delivered to address social determinants with the support of federal funding. It will work to amplify evidence-based approaches to holistic well-being. 

    Congressional responsibility for programs to address social determinants is divided among many committees and delivered across multiple agencies. As such, we have convened the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus to bring together members of Congress from disparate jurisdictions to highlight the opportunities for coordination to improve health outcomes and maximize existing and future federal investments in health, food, housing, transportation, and other important drivers of health. Leadership is needed to break down the barriers that impede better coordination between health and social services programs.

    Specifically, the Congressional SDOH Caucus will:

    • Shine a spotlight on how the COVID-19 PHE has had a disparate impact on certain populations and communities, including people with social needs;
    • Convene bipartisan thought leaders to educate members on the evidence around social determinants, why it is necessary to explore, and what’s currently working;
    • Collect input and feedback from community-based organizations, health, public health, and social service organizations, and state and local government leaders on how best to facilitate effective social determinant interventions, and how Congress can take action to advance this work; 
    • Discuss bipartisan legislative efforts to address social determinant challenges across multiple committees of jurisdiction; and 
    • Highlight priorities on behalf of interested members of Congress to external stakeholders and the Executive branch.

    Call for Comments! Caucus Request for Information

    The Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus is seeking feedback on challenges and opportunities related to social determinants of health. Please share feedback to the questions included in this form on challenges and opportunities, which will be shared with SDOH Caucus co-chairs.

    Submissions are due by September 21, 2021.



    For questions or additional information on the Congressional SDOH Caucus, please contact Liam Steadman in Congresswoman Cheri Bustos’ office at Liam.Steadman@mail.house.gov, Shane Hand in Congressman Tom Cole’s office at Shane.Hand@mail.house.gov, Caitlin Van Sant in Congressman G.K. Butterfield’s office at Caitlin.VanSant@mail.house.gov, or Kaitlynn Skoog in Congressman Markwayne Mullin’s office at Kaitlynn.Skoog@mail.house.gov.


  • 10 Aug 2021 6:36 PM | Anonymous

    Small business program funding from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, helps advance research on care interventions, diagnostic tools, and therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. A new paper, published August 10 in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, describes the impact and case studies of NIA’s $280 million investment in this research over the past 11 years through more than 600 grants to over 230 small businesses in 37 states.

    “Small businesses play a crucial role in research to discover effective prevention and treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “This paper provides the historical context of NIA’s funding in this highly competitive area and features some of the successes made possible through our federal investment.”

    NIA is the lead federal agency for Alzheimer’s and related dementias research. Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. While it is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, it is not a normal part of aging.

    Full article here

    Download PDF copy of article here. 

    If you are interested in this topic, check out the video of the session on Nursing Home Residents (April 2021) here. 


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