WNC wellness review: Original clinic opens, insurance for autism must wait, and AIDS testing

NC hospital opens country’s first postpartum depression clinic

After childbirth, most new moms will experience some form of the “baby blues.” For some women, those feelings persist and turn into postpartum depression – a serious condition that can lead to hospitalization and more.
On Monday, a University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill will open the country’s first free-standing perinatal psychiatry unit.

From NPR

Federal sanctions against NC could leave thousands of mentally ill without homes

For years, North Carolina has been warned to take better care of its mentally ill residents. This summer, federal officials have declared they’re tired of waiting.
Federal agencies that provide substantial funding for services to people with mental illness say that far too many of them are living in adult care homes, and the agencies are threatening to stop paying the bills. Last month, the federal Department of Justice stepped in, saying the state has violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to provide housing for mentally ill people other than institutions such as mental hospitals and adult care homes.
The Justice Department says it will sue the state if it doesn’t agree to find alternative housing.

From the Charlotte Observer

NC legislators fail to mandate insurance coverage of autism — but can revisit it in 2012

With the North Carolina General Assembly’s long session now concluded, legislation that would have required all health insurance companies in the state to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism won’t become law this year.
But the Autism Society of North Carolina, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Raleigh, says the complementary Senate and House bills in committee could be revisited during the General Assembly’s short session beginning around in May 2012.

From Carolina Public Press

Former Buddhist nun and meditation teacher to visit Asheville

Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 7pm – The Asheville Insight Meditation group proudly announces their first meditation sangha event led by Lila Kate Wheeler: a well-known and respected Vipassana meditation teacher.
Lila Kate Wheeler started practicing yoga when she was 12 and Buddhist meditation at age 21. She has been teaching since the 1980s and has sustained her practice in many Buddhist and Hindu meditative traditions. She traveled to Burma where she was ordained as a nun in 1988, and has studied at Dharma centers in the United States, India, Nepal, and Tibet.

From Aug. 12 press release

Hickory nonprofit offers HIV/AIDS testing

Staff members from the AIDS Leadership Foothills-area Alliance (ALFA), a Hickory-based non-profit, serving nine northwestern North Carolina counties, are now addressing HIV/AIDS concerns and offering testing in Wilkes.
At the end of 2010, 42 people in Wilkes were living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to ALFA Executive Director Rodney Tucker. Those numbers are based on the ALFA client base.
According to the Wilkes County Health Department and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of current Wilkes residents who have been diagnosed with HIV is 38. Wilkes ranks 84th among 100 counties for the number of cases reported. State officials note that “fluctuations in the number of disease reports per year may be influenced by reporting issues.”

From the Wilkes Journal-Patriot

Consumers with health-insurance questions can call expanded state-funded service

Residents will get help finding health insurance and filing complaints and appeals under a new service introduced Tuesday at the state Department of Insurance.
The consumer service Health Insurance Smart NC is funded by a $1.2 million federal grant and $365,000 in department money. Grants were available to all states under the federal health insurance law to start consumer assistance programs or beef up existing ones.

From the Charlotte Observer

Study shows NC’s community health centers reduce medical costs

A new policy research brief released today by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines the financial impact of community health centers in North Carolina, a state known for its primary care innovation.
The brief, titled “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve in North Carolina: The Experience of Community Health Centers,” examines whether health centers in North Carolina, which has a well-developed primary health care system reaching medically underserved communities, are more cost effective than other primary health care providers. The researchers found that on average, health center patients cost 62% less annually than comparable patients who received care in other ambulatory care settings.

From Aug. 9 press release

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