Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Improve Access to Behavioral Health Care PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Andrew Mason   
Friday, 19 August 2011 08:20

Mental Health Parity, Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Networks among New Laws to Improve and Coordinate Behavioral Health Care 

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – August 18, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed new laws designed to improve the quality of life for those needing behavioral health services and ensure equal access to necessary treatments. During a ceremony at the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health, the Governor signed House Bill 1530, which requires insurance companies to provide parity in coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders, and House Bill 2982, which will help the state build regional networks to improve behavioral health care throughout Illinois. The laws build upon Illinois’ efforts to ensure equal access to health care for Illinois residents and coordinate care to improve outcomes.

“When we talk about access to health care, we want to make sure that we are including all types of care,” Governor Quinn said. “No one should be forced to forgo critical mental health care because of where they live or because their insurance charges more for the necessary treatment. These laws will increase equality throughout the state and advance our goal to improve the health of all Illinois residents.”

House Bill 1530, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Sen. Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), establishes mental health parity among health insurance policies. Insurance companies must now provide the same coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders that they provide for all other conditions. Insurers are prevented from including additional barriers within the policy – such as financial requirements, treatment limitations, lifetime limits or annual limits – to treatments for mental, emotional, nervous and substance abuse disorders if no such stipulations exist for other health conditions. Illinois’ new law exceeds the requirements of the recently-enacted federal mental health parity law, and was a recommendation of the Governor’s Health Care Reform Implementation Council.

The Mental Health Services Strategic Planning Task Force is created under House Bill 2084, sponsored by Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates) and Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin). The task force will develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the state's mental health and developmental disabilities services. The plan will address issues impacting mental health and developmental disabilities services, including: reducing regulatory redundancy; improving access to care; ensuring quality of care in all settings; and ensuring hospital and institutional care is available, when necessary, to meet demands now and in the future.

Senate Bill 1584, sponsored by Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields), sets up community health advisory committees for counties and townships that have not already established community health boards. The legislation requires counties with less than 3,000,000 people and townships within counties with a population greater than 3,000,000 to appoint a volunteer seven-member health advisory committee made up of members of the general public if no community health board exists. 

Additionally, on Monday, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 2982, sponsored by Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) and Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), which creates Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Networks across Illinois to ensure and improve access to appropriate mental health and substance abuse services throughout the state, especially in rural communities. The networks will bring together relevant health, mental health, substance abuse entities and other community partners to coordinate services and ensure that each community’s behavioral health needs are being met.

These bills align with the goals of the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP). The SHIP calls for Illinois to improve access to comprehensive health-related services, enhance data and information technology in the healthcare sectors, address the social factors affecting health and health disparities, manage and improve the public health system, and ensure sufficient workforce in the healthcare and public health fields. The SHIP is prevention-focused and centered on the following priority health concerns: alcohol/tobacco; use of illicit drugs/misuse of legal drugs; mental health; environment; obesity (including nutrition and physical activity); oral health; patient safety and quality, and unintentional injury and violence.

Also signed today, Senate Bill 1837, sponsored by Sen. Tom Johnson (R-West Chicago) and Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), gives the Kane County Mental Health Court the authority to work with accredited mental health service providers to provide necessary services to defendants. It also requires the mental health court to assess its effectiveness and submit a report on the impact it has on reducing the number of mentally-ill people admitted into the state’s correctional system. The Kane County Mental Health Court was launched in February 2006 to reduce future criminal activity and improve public safety by preventing repeated incarceration of mentally ill, non-violent offenders.

Governor Quinn also approved House Bill 1317, sponsored by Rep. Crespo and Sen. Noland, which assists individuals with serious behavioral disorders and other disabilities by excusing them permanently from jury duty. Those seeking to be excluded from jury lists must present written proof from a licensed physician concluding that the individual has a total and permanent disability that prevents performance of the duties of a juror. The legislation mandates county boards, jury administrators and jury commissioners to create and maintain a list of persons to be permanently excluded jury lists.

House Bills 2084 and 1530 are effective immediately. House Bills 1317 and 2982 and Senate Bill 1837 take effect Jan. 1.

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Braley Speaks at East Central Iowa Chapter of the National Alzheimer’s Association Breakfast PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Kira Ayish   
Friday, 19 August 2011 08:15

Highlights work in Congress to improve quality of care for Alzheimer’s patients

Cedar Falls, IA – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) gave a speech at the East Central Iowa Chapter of the National Alzheimer’s Association breakfast.  Rep. Braley spoke on the importance of improving quality of care for Alzheimer’s patients, and investing in Alzheimer’s research and prevention efforts.

“I have seen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, and no family should have to go through the struggles of dealing with this deadly disease,” said Rep. Braley. “The simple truth is that by investing in research, care and prevention now, Congress can save lives and save money in the long run.  I will keep fighting to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, and to make sure that we’re providing the best possible care to those who suffer from this disease.”

Congressman Braley is the only member of the Iowa delegation who has cosponsored both H.R. 1897, the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, and H.R. 1386, the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act.  These bills would expand the federal commitment to prevention and research efforts, and also ensure patients, families and doctors have better information on medical and non-medical services to treat the disease.

In 2010, Congressman Braley helped pass into law language that would identify and measure the best medical practices for treating and caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and a bill to create a national strategic plan to address the disease.

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ADVANCED GI TREATMENT NOW AVAILABLE IN THE QUAD CITIES PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Susan Bender   
Monday, 15 August 2011 15:54

Attaluri, Heartland Center for Motility offer advanced GI treatment for the Quad Cities and surrounding areas 

Advanced GI Motility expertise and testing that was previously only available in large, teaching institutions is now available in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas. That’s because Gastroenterology Consultants has opened the Heartland Center for Motility that enjoys the expertise and experience of Dr. Ashok Attaluri.

Dr. Attaluri joined the practice in July after several years of honing his training in the specialty at the University of Iowa. The highly published and educated expert in the arena of GI and Motility has now brought that expertise and knowledge to the Quad Cities.

About 20-30% of the U.S. population suffers from one or more of these Functional GI disorders:

Heartburn: Acid Reflux, Non-Acid reflux,  Dysphasia (difficulty swallowing), Non-Cardiac Chest pain, Gastroparesis (abnormal stomach emptying), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, diarrhea, Fecal incontinence, Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, fullness, etc.

Often these conditions are the result of an acute GI problem that can be diagnosed and treated by a gastroenterologist using traditional methods such as colonoscopy, upper endoscopy and related tests. However, more often than you may think, the problem can be more complex and related to a much deeper issue such as:

  • Abnormal Motility:  Abnormality in the activity of the GI tract
  • Abnormal Sensation: Sensitivity in the nerves of the GI tract that can cause pain and discomfort
  • Brain-Gut Dysfunction: Disharmony in the way the brain and the GI system communicate

When one or more of these areas are not functioning correctly, patients need advanced testing and expertise.

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Governor Quinn Signs Bill to Expand Emergency Access to Life-Saving Allergy Medicine for Children PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 15 August 2011 12:50

Law Expands Options for Schools in Stocking, Administering Epi-Pens

CHICAGO – August 15, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to increase access to potentially life-saving medicine for children with severe allergies. House Bill 3294, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, allows schools to stock and utilize epinephrine auto-injectors (often known as ‘epi-pens’) in the case of life-threatening allergic reactions.

“When a child suffers a severe allergic reaction, every second counts,” Governor Quinn said. “With food allergies on the rise, we take action to help children with dangerous allergies. This law allows our schools to be prepared and for school nurses to take the immediate action that could save a child’s life.”

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston), the new law allows schools to keep a supply of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors for students. The supply can be used in an emergency if a child forgets their prescribed epi-pen, or when a severe reaction requires a second dose. In addition, the law allows school nurses to administer epi-pens to any child suspected of having an anaphylactic (life-threatening allergic) reaction, regardless of whether the child has been previously diagnosed with an allergy. The law also protects all school personnel from liability when an epi-pen is administered in good faith. It goes into effect immediately. 

A growing percentage of children in the United States are being diagnosed with food allergies. Recent studies suggest that one in 13 children are affected by food allergies. Nearly 40 percent of children with food allergies have a history of severe reaction, and 30 percent are allergic to multiple foods. The most common food allergen is peanuts, followed by milk and shellfish.

Under current law, students with severe allergies may carry their own personally-prescribed epi-pen at school and may allow specific school personnel to administer it in case of emergency. However, before House Bill 3294 was signed into law, schools were prohibited from administering epinephrine auto-injectors to children that had forgotten their epi-pens or to children that had never been diagnosed with a severe allergy. Schools were instead required to dial 911, potentially losing key moments during a life-threatening reaction.

A quarter of anaphylactic reactions amongst children involved individuals that had not been previously diagnosed with a severe allergy. Twenty-five percent of first-time reactions to peanuts or tree nuts among children occurred in a school setting. In instances of epi-pen administrations at schools, 20 percent involved students whose condition was unknown at the time.

“I keep an epi-pen with me because I have severe allergies,” Sen. Schoenberg said. “Quite a few children have food allergies, and many have reactions at school if they are unknowingly exposed to an allergen that triggers an attack. Schools should be able to respond quickly and appropriately to increase the child’s chance of survival in the case of a serious allergic reaction.”

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing due to swelling and/or spasm in the airways, loss of consciousness, and loss of heartbeat. Anaphylaxis results in the hospitalization of 300,000 children each year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, administering an epinephrine auto-injector is the best response to a child having an anaphylactic reaction.

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Turkey Recall Is Reminder to Follow Food Safety Practices PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 23:46

AMES, Iowa – As consumers check their refrigerators and freezers for recalled fresh and frozen ground turkey products, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach encourages following food safety best practices all the time.

“Food recalls and salmonella outbreaks certainly get people thinking more about food safety,” said Catherine Strohbehn, an ISU Extension specialist and professor in hotel, restaurant and institution management. “However, Iowans should always be mindful about food safety when purchasing, storing, preparing and serving food. That’s why Iowa State provides consumers, foodservice operators, students and educators with 24/7 access to research-based, unbiased information on food safety and quality at www.iowafoodsafety.org.”

On Aug. 3, Cargill initiated a voluntary recall of approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey products produced at its Springdale, Ark., plant, as reported on the Cargill News Center website. As of Aug. 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 78 people in 26 states had been confirmed with SalmonellaHeidelberg infections and that eating ground turkey was the likely source of this outbreak. One person from Iowa has been affected. CDC provides a summary of the situation at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg/index.html.

“Symptoms of most salmonella infections are the usual of any foodborne illness — diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps manifesting eight to 72 hours after ingesting the contaminated food. Affected individuals also may experience chills, headaches and sustained vomiting. Many of these symptoms are similar to those experienced with the flu, so often people don’t realize they have a foodborne illness,” Strohbehn said. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.

Cargill has posted a list of recalled ground turkey products at http://www.cargill.com/news-center/news-releases/2011/NA3047807.jsp, Strohbehn noted. Consumers should return opened or unopened packages to the store where purchased for a full refund.

Strohbehn recommends the following general food safety best practices:

Cook foods thoroughly to recommended end point temperatures. For poultry, this is a minimum of 165 F. Use a meat thermometer rather than relying only on cooking times listed on the package, because oven temperature sensors will vary. Looking and touching are not good indicators of doneness — only a calibrated thermometer can tell for sure.

Keep cold foods cold either by refrigeration (below 41 F) or by freezing. Put cold foods away after shopping first, rather than after canned goods. Don’t leave potentially hazardous foods out at room temperature for more than two hours. In summer, don’t leave these foods out for more than one hour.

Separate raw from cooked or ready-to-eat foods, and separate clean from soiled — chefs use the term mise en place, or everything in its place. Be mindful of this concept when working in the kitchen.

Keep it clean. Keep hands clean and keep materials that contact food clean. Clean means washing and rinsing using cleaning cloths and brushes designated for food surfaces only. Consumers may wish to sanitize certain surfaces after cleaning, such as the cutting board. Use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach with 1 gallon of water and allow contact for at least 7 seconds. Let the product air dry.

More information is available from the ISU Extension Food Safety Project website, www.iowafoodsafety.org.

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