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Health and Medicine

Pike County Apple Cider Sickens Dozens

Nov 6, 2015
Public Domain / Creative Commons

Health officials in two western Illinois counties are investigating an illness affecting people who drank apple cider during a recent fall festival. The health departments of Pike and Adams county say more than 60 people who attended the Pike County Color Drive have similar gastrointestinal symptoms. Several have been hospitalized. Officials say the suspect apple cider could be tainted with E. coli bacteria or a microscopic parasite called cryptosporidium. The Illinois Department of Public Health is assisting with the investigation. The fall festival was held Oct.

Medical Marijuana Shipments Begin

Nov 6, 2015

Medical marijuana growers in Illinois have been notified by state officials that they can start shipping their products to dispensaries today for sale to patients early next week. Department of Agriculture instructions say marijuana can be transported only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Vehicles carrying it must be staffed by at least two cultivation center employees. Growers must enter product ID numbers into a digital statewide tracking system. A Florida-based company called BioTrack THC has the Illinois contract for tracking medical marijuana from seed to sale.

Interfaith Worker Justice / WGLT News

Wage theft is the deliberate withholding or underpayment of wages by employers. On November 18, workers across the country will hold a series of events to focus attention on the problem. Interfaith Worker Justice is a Chicago-based organization that helps workers across the country who have been treated unfairly.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.

By now, you’ve probably heard several news reports about the World Health Organization report that associates the eating of processed meat with a higher risk of cancer. A food scientist at the University of Illinois says that report needs to be taken in context.

The United Way of Mclean County is 21% of the way toward its annual fundraising goal in the early going. Last year, the United Way chapter that serves Bloomington and Normal distributed $3.2 million to member social service agencies. This year United Way leadership is hoping to boost that by eight percent.
    

CEO David Taylor says with many changes and uncertaintees around the state and locally, the United Way hopes the community will recognize  the urgency to solve the situation as much as possible in McLean County.

Teen Driving Deaths Drop

Oct 21, 2015

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says teenage driving deaths are down by nearly 60 percent in the state. The Democrat kicked off National Teen Driver Safety Week by announcing that is a new low since the state began the graduated driver's licensing program that took effect in 2008. Illinois Department of Transportation figures show there were 155 teen driving deaths in 2007. That number fell to 66 in 2014, a 57 percent decrease.

DCFS Agrees To Reforms

Oct 20, 2015

Illinois' troubled child welfare agency must outline a detailed plan to make improvements at residential treatment centers and in other areas by February 2016 under a federal court agreement.  
    

Finding affordable housing is a growing problem in Bloomington Normal. Laura Furlong is the CEO of MarcFirst and a member of a study panel on the issue for the League of Women Voters.

A McLean County League of Women Voters study suggests home ownership is declining and the amount of money people pay for rent is more stressful now than it was fifteen years ago. There has been an 18% increase in the share of income needed to afford a three bedroom apartment over the last fifteen years.

A new survey shows more than three-quarters of Illinois human service agencies have cut programs and are serving fewer clients because of the state's budget crisis. Almost one-third say they could run out of money in one month or less.  

The United Way of Illinois has released findings of a survey of 544 agencies statewide.  They say the responses show the situation is worsening for agencies and the people who rely on them as the budget impasse stretches on. 

United Way officials were joined by business and labor leaders who called on lawmakers to find a resolution.  

Six catholic parishes have banded together to continue the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Bloomington. It appeared last week the decades old institution would close with the coming retirement of its director Tina Sipula. The last day for the soup kitchen was to have been November 24th. Sipula also operates the Clare House food pantry. She had been unable to find new sponsors for either social service outlet. Service providers say they believe other food pantries in the twin cities can make up that need.

Graham Beard / Wikimedia Commons

Mumps have not subsided in Bloomington Normal. The McLean County Health Department has issued a notice that Normal Community High School is the site of the latest cluster of related mumps cases. Outbreaks were reported earlier at University High School, Normal West, BHS, Heartland Community College and ISU.

The health department says the latest total is 36 positive cases. There could be more because the time between exposure to the disease and the appearance of symptoms is between 12 and 25 days. And people with the virus can be infectious before they show symptoms.

Older people could be spending a greater chunk of their income on healthcare next year, based on a measure of inflation that depends on gas prices.

Since gas prices are low, most economists predict the federal government will not increase the cost of living adjustment, known as the COLA, for 2016. That means social security beneficiaries will continue to receive the same amount of money next year as they did this year.  

Illinois State University

     Illinois State University will be trying to help at risk youth become productive adults. Ani Yazedjian is the Chair of ISU's Family and Consumer Sciences Department. She says a five million dollar federal grant over five years will allow intensive training on a variety of topics for low income people in Champaign County ages 15-24.

Other training includes job readiness, and financial literacy. There are also community college tuition waivers available.

Yazedjian says similar grants for teen parents in Texas improved outcomes and economic stability.

No Medical Pot For Vets With PTSD

Oct 12, 2015
Flickr user Dominic Simpson via Creative Commons

The chair of Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board isn’t holding out a lot of hope for some conditions to be approved for treatment with the drug… even after endorsing them a second time.

At least sixteen of Illinois' 97 public health departments have laid off employees or cut back service hours,  and more are expected unless the state comes through with funding. It comes as flu season approaches, after regional outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease and the mumps, and after the state announced that it will no longer pay for testing S-T-D specimens --- meaning the local departments have to take on an additional cost.

An advisory board has voted to add chronic pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and three other pain conditions to the list of illnesses that can be treated by marijuana in Illinois. The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board made the recommendations Wednesday at a meeting in suburban Chicago.

Low-income, working parents are fighting to once again have help from the state for childcare. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

Since July, Illinois has drastically reduced who's eligible for the state's daycare assistance program. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made the change - he says to save money. For nearly two hours at a recent hearing in Springfield, daycare providers and parents -- like Chante Morrison -- pressed Rauner to cancel the rollbacks.

Morrison's a single mother of two girls from Galesburg.

Illinois State University

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The information age has opened new possibilities of both establishing relationships with other people and abusing them. The Virtual Enemy is a new book co-authored by Shelly Clevenger of Illinois State University. It focuses on the relationships of intimate partners and cyber-crime.

Illinois State University

Time magazine named the many volunteers fighting last year's Ebola outbreak in western Africa their "Persons of the Year." One of the volunteers selected to literally be the "face" of this effort was Ella Stryker, a New Jersey native and public educator who began volunteering only last year with Doctors Without Borders.

NIU Joins Mumps Plagued Campuses

Oct 2, 2015

County health officials have confirmed that a Northern Illinois University student has mumps. University officials say they're working with the DeKalb County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide more community information. Illinois' outbreak has centered on the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus, where more than 100 cases have been confirmed. Two cases were confirmed last month at Eastern Illinois University.  Nearly 30 have popped up at various schools in Bloomington Normal.

Flickr user Dominic Simpson via Creative Commons

The typical patient seeking to use medical marijuana in Illinois is an older woman in Cook County with either severe fibromyalgia or cancer. That's the picture revealed Thursday in a new report to the Legislature from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

An advertising campaign aimed at potential medical marijuana patients is drawning scrutiny from Illinois regulators. Chicago-based Cresco Labs announced the campaign Wednesday, a month after the state said just 3,000 patients have been granted medical marijuana cards. That's far fewer than industry investors hoped. Cresco plans advertising in print and on radio, social media and billboards. The company holds permits for cultivation facilities in Joliet, Kankakee and Lincoln. Illinois Department of Agriculture regulations prohibit cultivation centers from marketing products to the public.

Illinois State University

One of the key figures in the fight to control last year's African ebola outbreak says it was unbelievably exhausting and difficult work. Ella Stryker, a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders is speaking about her experiences during an appearance at ISU.

Early Childhood Programs May See Funding

Sep 18, 2015

Families with babies, from birth until they're three years old, are eligible for state assistance to help their children learn and grow. It's called early intervention. But without a budget ... Illinois stopped paying the therapists who provide these services. Now, the comptroller and the governor's administration says they've come up with a way to pay again ... even though Illinois still has no budget in place. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

The latest cluster of mumps cases in Mclean County is at Heartland Community College in Normal. Cathy Coverston-Anderson is Assistant Director at the Heath Department.  She says four cases have been confirmed, and there will likely be more.

There is a 12 to 25 day incubation period. So, the cases we see now were infected two weeks ago. Because of that long incubation period we expect to see some more."

"With mumps you are infectious two days before you start to show symptoms."

Home Medicaid Providers Win In Court

Sep 16, 2015

A federal judge has ordered the State of Illinois to fund Medicaid services for seniors living at home rather than at a nursing facility during the budget impasse. Cindy Cunningham is with two providers who asked the court to force payments. She says the order will help caretakers who have taken out personal loans to keep their companies afloat.

"We have been without payments since July. Our houses are on the line. Our businesses are on the line."

New Foster Care Program Begins

Sep 16, 2015

Illinois' child welfare agency wants to do a better job taking care of its most troubled kids. The idea is kids who have suffered abuse or witnessed violence would be placed with families with no more than two wards per home. Parents in these foster homes would get special training and at least one would stay home full time. Bruce Boyer Directs the ChildLaw Clinic at Loyola University. He says the idea is good, but the question is could the program be implemented in any meaningful way?

More Legionnaire's Cases In Quincy

Sep 9, 2015

Ten people in western Illinois now have died from Legionnaires' disease after a state veterans home in Quincy reported two new fatalities among its residents. An outbreak first identified in late August has sickened 53 residents at the home. State and local public health officials have not disclosed how the 10th victim contracted the disease, a severe form of pneumonia. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to treat the home's water systems with a chemical disinfectant. An agency spokesman could not immediately answer why that step had not been taken sooner.

The McLean County Health Department is looking into cases of mumps in the area. Department Director Walt Howe says the ages of the sick people range from 19 years old down to less than a year.

Howe says they cannot yet label it an outbreak because investigators have not linked the cases. He also says workers will be looking at possible connections to the University of Illinois which has had more than 100 cases of mumps this year, the bulk of the reports in the state.

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