WBEZ | health http://www.wbez.org/tags/health Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Surgery helps some obese teens in battle to get fit http://www.wbez.org/news/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-battle-get-fit-113784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bariatric-2bd9acf62b39859d063989fd822a03da249300f4-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455025089" previewtitle="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/bariatric-2bd9acf62b39859d063989fd822a03da249300f4-s700-c85.jpg" title="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say." /></div><div><div><p>Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that&#39;s not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say.</p></div>13/Ocean/Corbis</div></div><p>Surgery to reduce the stomach&#39;s size is often seen as a last resort for severely obese teenagers, partly because there has been little information on the procedure&#39;s long-term effects on young people.</p><p>But a study&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1506699?query=featured_home">published</a>&nbsp;online Friday in the&nbsp;New England Journal of Medicine&nbsp;tracked teens for three years and suggests that bariatric surgery as part of a weight-reduction plan was not only safe, but increased their heart health and the quality of their lives.</p><p><a href="http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/bio/i/thomas-inge/">Dr. Thomas Inge</a>, a surgeon at Cincinnati Children&#39;s Hospital Medical Center, led the study of 242 severely obese adolescents who underwent the surgery.</p><p>The young people were between 13 and 19 years old and averaged 325 pounds at the start of the study, Inge says. Surgery helped them lose nearly a third of their original body weight and maintain that loss for three years. Even more importantly, Inge says, the development of obesity-linked disease was stopped in its tracks.</p><p>Of teens who had Type 2 diabetes when they underwent the surgery, &quot;95 percent of them had no sign of diabetes at three years,&quot; Inge says. Most participants in the study also dramatically reduced their blood pressure after surgery, and had improved kidney function and less blood fat.</p><p>The hope is that these sorts of improvements in physical markers will ultimately translate to fewer strokes, heart attacks and other disabilities down the road, he says. Previous research has suggested that only about 2 percent of severely obese teens are able to lose weight and keep it off without surgery.</p><p>Adults who have weight-loss surgery also see reductions in diabetes, blood pressure and blood fat, Inge says. But the improvements aren&#39;t as dramatic &mdash; perhaps, he says, because it&#39;s easier to tame a disease that hasn&#39;t already had years to do damage.</p><p>The teens also experienced a big jump in their confidence.</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s one thing to talk about what this does to their blood pressure and diabetes,&quot; Inge says. &quot;It&#39;s a whole other thing, when you&#39;re in the patients&#39; shoes, to be able to talk about how they&nbsp;feel&nbsp;after the operation.&quot;</p><p>The answer, he says, was unmistakably good &mdash; so good that some kids made a few other bold changes in their appearance, taking deliberate steps to stand out instead of trying to hide.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s very much the routine to see them expressing themselves and saying, &#39;Here&#39;s me with green hair color, pink hair color,&quot; Inge says. &quot;It&#39;s telling the world, &#39;This is the new me, and I like it!&#39; And, &#39;Here we are!&#39; &quot;</p><p>The surgery isn&#39;t without side effects and these, too, showed up in the study. In addition to the risks of any surgery, bariatric surgery alters how the body digests food &mdash; so most of the teens also had to start taking vitamin and iron supplements after the procedure. And about 13 percent wound up needing additional abdominal surgery &mdash; most commonly gall bladder removal.</p><p>These teenagers and others need continued follow-up to be certain that benefits outweigh risks as the years go on, Inge says. But at least now, teens &mdash; and their parents and doctors &mdash; are starting to get a little more solid information to help guide choices about treatment.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/455007824/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-in-battle-to-get-fit?ft=nprml&amp;f=455007824" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 14:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-battle-get-fit-113784 A farm grows in a Northwest Side high school http://www.wbez.org/news/farm-grows-northwest-side-high-school-113682 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">Chef Jaime Guerrero has a dream of opening a fully sustainable restaurant in the Old Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago. To refine that model, he&rsquo;s turning to an unlikely partner: Schurz High School, located almost literally in his Old Irving backyard. &nbsp;</div><p>&ldquo;Imagine that you have a restaurant where everything you eat is grown, farmed, harvested, crafted or brewed in that facility,&rdquo; he says of the restaurant that he hopes to open by the end of next year. &nbsp;</p><p>But first he needs to perfect the indoor vertical farming model, which is the task he has put before Schurz students working in the new Food Science Lab. The lab is housed in a 105-year-old classroom that used to host industrial arts classes. But today the white-tiled room, capped with a large glass skylight, is filled with white trays and towers that are expected to be filled with lettuce, herbs and microgreens by the end of the year.</p><p>On a recent morning, lab organizer Cyd Smillie was setting up the space for a fundraiser for the last key element in the lab: LED grow lights. The fundraising <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/launch-a-food-revolution#/">continues her</a>e.</p><p>Smillie lives in the area and works for Ald John Arena&rsquo;s (45th) office.</p><p>&ldquo;I loved his idea and it seemed to me ...Schurz was the perfect place to develop some of the technology and train the staff,&rdquo; said Smillie, who is also an artist. &ldquo;We talked to [the late] chef Homaro Cantu who was an area resident, about the sustainable agriculture he was working on in his own restaurant and how training food handlers for it was already an issue in the city.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Schurz Farm2_0.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 620px;" title="The Schurz Food Science Lab served as an English literature industrial arts classroom over the last 100 years. But it should be filled with trays of hydroponic lettuce, herbs and greens by the end of the year. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p>The Schurz program hopes to certify all of its students as trained food handlers. And Smillie says the lab will serve as a classroom for several AP and International Baccalaureate science classes.</p><p>But she also notes less obvious uses for the program and lab. These include use as a therapeutic space for students with low-level autism and as a business project for classes in entrepreneurship and marketing. The school&rsquo;s JROTC program has also gotten involved.</p><p>&ldquo;Those students go on to Peace Corps and National Guard and work post-disaster or war situations where they have to set up food systems,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So they have been instrumental in helping set up the lab so far, and we&rsquo;re teaching them how to set up these very portable systems to help grow food in those kinds of post-crisis situations.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Schurz%20farm1.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Schurz High School is more than 100 years old, but it’s launching a lab to refine the future of urban agriculture. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p>The group is working with a volunteer organization called Build Up, which will help distribute the produce to area food pantries. But Smillie says she hopes that one day the students will get to incorporate it into school food.</p><p>&ldquo;CPS has a protocol for certification so we need to be certified as a growing facility and as food handlers,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;But after we achieve that we have a roster of area chefs who will teach the kids how to use them and then we would like them to go into the lunchrooms here, once CPS says we are allowed to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Principal Dan Kramer has embraced the program as a way to help restore the place of schools in communities.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to bring schools back to a role they had when they were really the heart of the neighborhood,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;not just families sending their kids there for school but places for performances, exhibits and social celebrations, really making [them] open to the public.&rdquo;</p><p>Smillie says that, if they can refine the model, it won&rsquo;t just help launch Guerrero&rsquo;s restaurant but many more food labs across the city.</p><p>&ldquo;Ideally it&rsquo;s a pilot project we can take to other schools in food deserts,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There, it won&rsquo;t be just an academic exercise but a job training program and a food supply chain, to not just the students and school but to the communities they serve.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/farm-grows-northwest-side-high-school-113682 Surgeon General Vivek Murthy breaks his quiet on nutrition and says it will be a big part of his tenure http://www.wbez.org/news/science/surgeon-general-vivek-murthy-breaks-his-quiet-nutrition-and-says-it-will-be-big-part <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/surgeon general1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy - the country&rsquo;s key spokesperson on public health - spoke last week at a luncheon for Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign. Despite the deep dietary problems faced by Chicago kids, Murthy&rsquo;s speech largely <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/surgeon-general-wants-us-walk-health-113033" target="_blank">glossed over nutrition to focus on walking</a>. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The speech came in the wake of<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/step-it-up-coca-cola_b_8131834.html"> similar criticism</a> earlier in the month from filmmaker Laurie David and activist dietitian Andy Bellati. They said Murthy&rsquo;s approach sounded a lot like the way soda companies frame the obesity debate: It&rsquo;s not about what you eat, it&rsquo;s about how much you move. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A pattern seemed to be emerging. It didn&rsquo;t help that Murthy&rsquo;s office offered no response to the articles and took no questions after his Chicago speech.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Monday, the surgeon general broke his silence in a call to WBEZ. He told us that he actually cares a lot about nutrition. He even plans to launch his next campaign on the topic.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are some edited excerpts from our interview:</div><div><hr /><p><strong>ENG</strong>: You&rsquo;ve taken some heat recently for perceptions that you emphasize physical activity at the cost of nutrition. Is that a fair reading of your stance?</p></div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: There are a lot of issues that I plan to address during my tenure as surgeon general. I began talking about vaccinations during the measles outbreak in the United States. And what I said, even prior to my confirmations, is that prevention is really the central focus for me. And when I think of building a culture of prevention in America, I believe there are three core components: One of them is physical activity, one of them is nutrition and the other is emotional well being. A few weeks ago we rolled out our first initiative on physical activity and, in coming months, we&rsquo;ll be rolling out initiatives on nutrition and emotional well-being as well&hellip;. That&rsquo;s because, in my experience caring for patients, I&rsquo;ve seen that good nutrition is essential for good health, and it&rsquo;s really at the core of being healthy.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: Can you give a preview on what you&rsquo;ll be saying about nutrition in that initiative?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: &nbsp;A lot of that is still in the works but I can tell you a little bit about why I&rsquo;m concerned in particular about nutrition. My real concern is that we are as a country are not eating enough in the way of fruits and vegetables and we overconsume sugar and salt in particular. This has important consequences for our health, particularly in terms of contributing to chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease. Chronic illness accounts for seven out of 10 deaths in America and they cost us over a trillion dollars a year, which is this is why emphasizing physical activity and nutrition and changes we can make in both realms is so important to addressing chronic disease...</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We are also looking at how we can increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. What&rsquo;s exciting to me is that there are innovative programs out there that are having success in terms of increasing fruits and vegetables. (Murthy cites a program in Virginia that<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/10/426741473/healthy-eaters-strong-minds-what-school-gardens-teach-kids" target="_blank"> teaches kids about produce</a> and another in Michigan that <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/11/10/361803607/how-double-bucks-for-food-stamps-conquered-capitol-hill" target="_blank">doubles the value of SNAP dollars</a> when they are spent on local produce.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So these are some of the issues we&rsquo;re examining right now: how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and increase water consumption and reduce our consumption of sugar and salt. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: Because this was the first thing you rolled out, I think people got the impression that the Surgeon General was simply going to tell us to walk, and not talk about drinking sugary drinks and getting junk out of our diets. What would you say to them? &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: We are getting to these topics. We are addressing them sequentially, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that I don&rsquo;t talk about them all the time. When I go to communities across the country I hear about concerns folks have about the lack of availability of nutritious food. I hear concerns about neighborhoods not being safe for physical activity. I hear concerns about prescription opiate abuse, about &nbsp;measles outbreaks and range of other issues that are concerning to folks across the country. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: It&rsquo;s no big secret that the food industry and its lobbyists have considerable influence in D.C., and those who speak out against them can find themselves on the end of some tough attacks. Does that ever work into your mind when you say, &lsquo;Ok I&#39;m going to give a speech and instead of attacking sugary drinks I&rsquo;ll focus on physical activity.&rsquo;?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: For anyone who has paid attention to my history, not only as Surgeon General, but during my confirmation process as well, I think you know I don&#39;t shy away from controversial issues. I took a lot of heat for talking about controversial issues [gun control] during my confirmation process. And what I said, then and now, is that what drives me in my decision on what to talk about and how to talk about is science and what&rsquo;s going to improve people&rsquo;s health. I come at that as a physician who has seen far too much preventable disease and who feels a great sense of urgency around this because I feel that the longer we take to make changes in physical activity and nutrition and in other areas related to health, the more people experience illness, and the more people pass away prematurely and the more healthcare costs we rack up. So that&rsquo;s what drives me. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng" target="_blank">Chewing The Fat </a>podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org?subject=Surgeon%20General">meng@wbez.org</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/surgeon-general-vivek-murthy-breaks-his-quiet-nutrition-and-says-it-will-be-big-part In Chicago, neighborhood organizers go on hunger strike — to get their school back http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-09-11/chicago-neighborhood-organizers-go-hunger-strike-%E2%80%94-get-their-school <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/The Dyett hunger strikers led a silent march to President Obama&#039;s Chicago home followed by a vigil on September 7, 2015 Credit Bob SimpsonFlickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Walter H. Dyett High School was the last open-enrollment high school in the Bronzeville neighborhood located on Chicago&rsquo;s south side. The protests convinced Chicago school officials to re-open Dyett High &mdash; but they say it should be a high school for the arts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Protestors and community activists want Dyett High School to re-open as a specialized school that focuses on global leadership and green technology.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As of now, a compromise hasn&rsquo;t been reached, which is why a dozen parents and activists have been engaged in a hunger strike &mdash; they&rsquo;re now on their 26th day without food, surviving only on liquids.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>April Stogner is one of those protesters. She says her group is willing to sacrifice personal comfort in the name of community activism.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve been fighting for is to have [Dyett] as the global leadership school,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;What they&rsquo;re trying to give us is not what the community asked for. They never brought us to the table to make this decision. Many people think that it&rsquo;s a win for us, but we don&rsquo;t see it as that &mdash; we don&rsquo;t feel victorious. For that reason, we&rsquo;re in day 25 of the hunger strike.&rdquo;</div><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/March.jpg?itok=O4W9SCA6" style="height: 360px; width: 600px;" title="The Dyett hunger strikers led a silent march to President Obama's Chicago home followed by a vigil on September 7, 2015. (Courtesy of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett)" /></p><div>Stonger says this urban public high school is equipped with a garden and is enabled for green technology, a growing and enterprising industry in the United States that Dyett parents want their children to be a part of. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We like the arts and all that, it&rsquo;s all fine and dandy, but our kids can do more than dance, sing and jump around,&rdquo; she says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The mayor&rsquo;s office argues that the school is inefficient, poorly insulated and outdated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&#39;s tough,&quot; Mayor Emanuel said in 2013 when he announced the school closings. &quot;It&#39;s very difficult, but it has to be done so we can achieve the goal that every parent and everybody in this city wants, which is a child to have a quality education.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stonger doesn&rsquo;t agree with the mayor, though. She says the government should be investing in public schools, not taking away funding to be allocated toward charter schools.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This is not what&rsquo;s best for our children,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The community should be involved in these decisions, and we were not involved. We submitted this plan and have been working on this plan for well over five years. It&rsquo;s funny that [Emanuel] says, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m doing what&rsquo;s best for your community.&rsquo; He doesn&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s best for our community.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Like others in her group, Stonger says she&rsquo;s willing to wait for change.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I am willing to take this as far as it needs to go. I&rsquo;ve been hungry for 25 days, and I&rsquo;m willing to go 25 more if I need to,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We know what they&rsquo;re handing us is just crumbs and they want us to feel like it&rsquo;s cake. We&rsquo;re not going for that. We know what good schools look like.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stonger says Emanuel&rsquo;s plan has produced the opposite of its intended goal. She says she&rsquo;s seen this first hand at her own grandson&rsquo;s school, Mollison Elementary. Stonger says kids there are forced to eat lunch on the floor because Mollison became overcrowded after it merged with another school that had been shuttered.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;When you say that you have the kids&rsquo; best interests at heart, what kids are you talking about?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not the kids in Bronzeville that you&rsquo;re talking about. It&rsquo;s not the black and brown students that I look at every day.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stonger says that she&rsquo;s putting up a fight because the children in her neighbor &mdash; her grandson included &mdash; deserve to have access to a quality education in their own communities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I think we have already changed the game,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think this would go this far. I didn&rsquo;t think that people would watch people starve just for an education for their children. It&rsquo;s amazing to me that we&rsquo;re labeled as people who don&rsquo;t care &mdash; as parents who don&rsquo;t care. I don&rsquo;t see anybody who doesn&rsquo;t care going without food for 25 days for the education of their children, or going to jail for the education of their children. This is bigger than just Dyett &mdash; this is about human and civil rights at this point.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-09-11/chicago-neighborhood-organizers-go-hunger-strike-get-their-school-back"><em>The Takeaway</em></a></div></p> Fri, 11 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-09-11/chicago-neighborhood-organizers-go-hunger-strike-%E2%80%94-get-their-school Soda tax hearings bubble over with debate http://www.wbez.org/news/soda-tax-hearings-bubble-over-debate-112883 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/soda t.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">When 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas arrived on City Hall&rsquo;s 2nd floor Wednesday, he met a lobby full of teamsters wearing shirts emblazoned with the words &ldquo;Pepsi,&rdquo; &ldquo;Coca-Cola,&rdquo; &ldquo;7Up&rdquo; and &ldquo;Dr Pepper.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">They were there with Teamsters Local 727 President John Coli, an early supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an opponent of Cardenas&rsquo; proposed penny-per-ounce soda tax.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This tax &mdash; the third tax in recent memory &mdash; would do nothing but harm the middle class,&rdquo; Coli said in a press conference before Health Committee hearings on the proposal.</p><p dir="ltr">More opposition came from the soda lobbyists at the American Beverage Association. &nbsp;They enlisted former corporate counsel for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mara Georges to take a look at the proposal. She predicted that, if passed, the tax would &ldquo;not hold up to legal challenge&rdquo; because the city already taxes soda at the maximum rate the state allows.</p><p dir="ltr">Also on board for the opposition is lobbyist Mike Kasper, the lawyer who helped Emanuel fight his 2011 residency challenge. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">When asked if he was intimidated by these influential opponents, Cardenas, &nbsp;who also chairs the City Council&rsquo;s Health Committee, was philosophical.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re put in these positions of leadership to make decisions, unpopular as they may be,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;&ldquo;At the end of the day, if you have passion for the right thing you say it and people are going to be complimentary sometimes and sometimes not complimentary.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Those who were not complimentary to the proposal were representatives of the Illinois restaurant industry, bottlers and retailers. They noted that the city already imposes two taxes on soda (one on bottled soda and one on fountain drinks).</p><p dir="ltr">But supporters note that this is an excise tax &mdash; not a sales tax. That means it would be reflected in the shelf price (of about 68 cents more for a 2 liter), making it, &nbsp;theoretically, more effective in changing behavior than the current lower taxes that are noticeable only on receipts. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Opponents also claim the tax would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/tax-sugary-drinks-gets-pushback-112752">cost Chicago revenue</a> and jobs as consumers buy soda in nearby towns that don&rsquo;t impose the tax.</p><p dir="ltr">Tanya Triche of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association warned that if stores near the edges of the city &ldquo;don&rsquo;t stay profitable they will close and we have seen lots of closings of grocers, convenience stores and gas stations near the edge of the city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">University of Illinois at Chicago professor Lisa Powell, however, says that her predictive models don&rsquo;t show statistically significant net job losses. Instead, the economist and health policy analyst says, the jobs lost in the beverage industry from lower soda sales would be made up in other areas.</p><p dir="ltr">In the past, Mayor <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-08/news/ct-met-emanuel-soda-wellness-1009-20121009_1_mayor-rahm-emanuel-plans-health-care-combat-obesity">Emanuel has resisted</a> the kind of anti-soda proposals his counterparts have embraced in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. His previous strategies have stressed personal responsibility and partnerships with the soda industry to pay for health programs. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But speaking at an event after the hearings, the mayor did not rule out a tax completely.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The notion of a sugary [drink] tax is all about curbing behavior in the same way that we&rsquo;ve done certain things about reducing smoking in this city,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel says he wants to hear budget-balancing suggestions from all of the aldermen, and he sees the soda tax as one of them.</p><p dir="ltr">Cardenas stressed that Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing was a subject hearing, not a budget hearing or an opportunity for a vote. But regardless of the final vote, he said, he wanted to start a conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think we are going to come out of this with some consensus and at least some knowledge,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;My whole point was to educate some people on obesity and diabetes&hellip;[the tax] is an option on the table from health advocates like myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Some have floated the tax as a possible alternative to the garbage collection fees. &nbsp;Cardenas won&rsquo;t speak directly to that possibility, saying only, &ldquo;Could it replace something else? Well, surely when you get to the next phase of budget hearings, it could be an option as well.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is WBEZ&rsquo;s food and health reporter. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Sep 2015 21:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/soda-tax-hearings-bubble-over-debate-112883 A checkup on Chicago's health data http://www.wbez.org/news/checkup-chicagos-health-data-112847 <p><div>Four years ago, in a sweaty Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-17/health/ct-met-healthy-chicago-20110817_1_health-care-breast-cancer-public-health" target="_blank">Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched</a> a bold new plan he called <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/cdph/CDPH/PublicHlthAgenda2011.pdf" target="_blank">Healthy Chicago</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Joined by the health commissioner, the mayor pinpointed 16 key health issues--including teen pregnancy, smoking, stroke death, breast cancer and asthma. They set 2020 &nbsp;progress goals for each of those health issues and promised yearly--even monthly--updates on where Chicagoans stood.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;By having a clear mission with clear priorities and having a way to measure them and make sure we are not only setting goals but achieving them...we will have the greatest impact on our public health,&rdquo; Emanuel said at the time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But four years later--about halfway into the 2020 plan--health department officials say they still don&rsquo;t know where we stand on most of them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The era of big data brought big promises from the Emanuel administration, but, for a host of reasons, delivering on pledges to post timely health updates didn&rsquo;t happen.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Over time what we&rsquo;ve realized is that the data were not always available in a timely fashion,&rdquo; said &nbsp;Health Commissioner Julie Morita who took office this spring. Today, she says, she can update about seven of the original 16 goals. On the others, there&rsquo;s just not enough information.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For instance, the <a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/CDPH/HealthyChicagoAnnualReport2013.pdf" target="_blank">most recent data the department released</a> on stroke deaths, birth weight, birth rate and breast cancer came from 2009. The most recent data it has on produce consumption, teen smoking, dating violence and blood pressure comes from 2011.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And this information isn&rsquo;t just interesting for journalists who want to keep tabs on city promises, it can be critical to smart funding decisions and, more important, for tracking disease.</div><div>Dr. David Ansell leads the <a href="http://www.chicagobreastcancer.org/" target="_blank">Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force</a>, which is trying to close the breast cancer mortality gap between black and white patients in Chicago. But he&rsquo;s had to rely almost entirely on data from the federal government. That&rsquo;s because, Ansell and others report, essential local health information is getting bottlenecked at the state level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s almost impossible to get the data from the state cancer registry,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think it&rsquo;s a major public health problem&hellip;. It&rsquo;s almost as if they have the data but they don&rsquo;t share it in a way that&rsquo;s useful. This is a matter of life and death because the goal is to improve the life conditions of the people in Chicago and state--and its absence is a travesty.&rdquo;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HC%20chart.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 375px; width: 600px;" title="These charts showed where Chicago was and where we wanted to be in 2020 but most of them can’t be updated with the current data available. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><div>Illinois Department of Public Health director Nirav Shah points out that the Illinois Cancer Registry has<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/press13/6.6.13_Cancer_Registry_Receives_Highest_Award.htm" target="_blank"> earned awards</a> as recently as 2013 for 2010 data collection. But he also says he wasn&rsquo;t aware of concerns about data bottlenecks in his department. And, he explains, data sharing is a complicated process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Even after data are reported, such as for cancer, they have to then be collected in accordance with federal standards for privacy and quality,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We have to make sure that the data are maintained in a secure fashion and that nothing gets out the door that shouldn&rsquo;t get out the door. And that the data on file are of high quality that they have not been duplicated. They also have to be checked for accuracy. That process is not an easy one, and it does take some time.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Indeed, privacy and duplication concerns play a role in slowing the data. But many say methods for addressing them are getting better and faster. Indeed, several local initiatives are underway to improve speed, compatibility and accessibility of health data. But they may not bear fruit for a few years,</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the meantime, Health Commissioner Morita is working on Healthy Chicago 2.0, a program that will be unveiled later this year. She says it will create a new set of health priorities for the city, and this time, ensure that systems are in place to actually keep track of the progress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The plan will also have the benefit of new data generated by the department itself. Late last year CDPH launched the first Healthy Chicago survey. It was done with more than 2,500 residents who answered a battery of health questions by phone.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I feel like it&rsquo;s a recognition of the need to have timely data in areas of concern,&rdquo; Morita said. &ldquo;So we can definitely allocate our resources in the appropriate places.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While a 2,500-person survey can sound puny, health data experts say that a well-conducted survey of that size could actually be very valuable. Currently a lot of our information comes from the national &nbsp;Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which only captures a few hundred Chicagoans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Plus, Morita says, after this first baseline year, subsequent annual surveys will be able to tell us how Chicago&rsquo;s doing year-to-year. And eventually, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ll be able to get down to the community level so we can have health estimates on disease right down to the community level. So we&rsquo;re really looking forward to having that information available in a timely manner.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org.?subject=Chicago%E2%80%99s%20health%20data%20checkup">meng@wbez.org.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/checkup-chicagos-health-data-112847 Global Activism: HIV/AIDS education with Malawi Matters, Inc http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-hivaids-education-malawi-matters-inc-113435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GA-Malawi Matters.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-efeb3703-86d3-fe8a-84d7-cb5f6b815d2b">Today, we catch up with Global Activist, Phyllis Wezeman. Challenged by her Malawian friends to get involved in &ldquo;The Warm Heart of Africa&rdquo;, she founded <a href="http://malawimatters.org/">Malawi Matters, Inc.</a> It&rsquo;s mission is to develop culturally-inspired HIV and AIDS education in the southeast African nation. Wezeman is just back from Malawi. For our </span>Global Activism segment, she&rsquo;ll update us on some new initiatives to give aid and comfort to sub-Saharan Africa, a region with two-thirds of the world&rsquo;s HIV infections and three-fourths of the globe&rsquo;s AIDS-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. &nbsp;She&rsquo;s author of the book Through the Heart: Creative Methods of HIV and AIDS Education, a handbook of activities that enable children and adults to better understand the disease.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217078355&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-hivaids-education-malawi-matters-inc-113435 Cooking up change in American medical schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cooking-change-american-medical-schools-112130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Food as med manny.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s a stormy Friday night in Chicago and traffic is a mess. But, one by one, a group of damp medical students comes filing into a classroom at Chicago&rsquo;s Kendall College. They could be out drinking tonight or hunkered down with their anatomy books. But instead they&rsquo;ve traveled miles from the University of Chicago&#39;s campus to attend a voluntary 3-hour class that they&rsquo;re not even getting credit for.</p><p>The course is Culinary Medicine, which explores the intersection of food, science, medicine and nutrition. The idea is to learn how to help prevent and control some of our most pervasive chronic health conditions.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t get a lot of devoted curriculum to this issue,&rdquo; says Erik Kulenkamp.&nbsp; He&rsquo;s a first-year med student at University of Chicago&rsquo;s Pritzker Medical School.&nbsp; &ldquo;And I feel like it&rsquo;s one of the things patients are most curious about and have the most questions about &mdash; lifestyle changes and things they can do to prevent things from happening to them rather than treating them once they occur.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Where&rsquo;s the nutrition training for doctors?</strong></p><p>Only about 30 institutions around the country teach culinary medicine. And according to a 2010 survey, only about 27 percent of all American medical schools teach the 25 hours of nutrition coursework recommended by the National Academy of Science.</p><p>This comes at a time when a recent <a href="http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1710486">Journal of the American Medical Association study</a> found that dietary quality is the single biggest risk factor for death and disability in the country.&nbsp;</p><p>This seems crazy to folks like Stephen Devries, who runs Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gaplesinstitute.org/">Gaples Institute</a>. It&rsquo;s trying to expand more nutritional training in the medical field. When he spells out for people the current requirements for nutrition training among medical professions, &ldquo;they are shocked.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, Devries wrote a<a href="http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2814%2900308-8/abstract"> commentary in The American Journal of Medicine </a>decrying the current lack of nutrition education among doctors. He noted that a recent study showed only 14 percent of physicians feel trained to provide nutritional counseling and yet 61 percent of patients turn to their doctors as &ldquo;very credible&rdquo; sources of nutrition information.</p><p>Dr. Geeta Maker Clark is a clinical instructor at the University of Chicago; she also runs an integrative family practice in the North Shore University Health system. She pursued culinary medicine studies after medical school, and has used them in her integrative practice as well as a class for non-med students that she teaches with a chef in Evanston.</p><p>But a couple of years ago she was approached by University of Illinois at Chicago doctoral student Sabira Taher with an idea to expand that teaching to future doctors. Things moved slowly. But last month, working with U of C&#39;s&nbsp; Dr. Sonia Oyola (who co-teaches the class) and Kendall&#39;s chef instructor Renee Zonka, they finally launched this pilot class. The pilot is funded by a grant from the U of C Women&rsquo;s Board, but the university stresses it will not give students credit for taking it.</p><p>At this point the University says, &quot;Instructors are just starting to review data that was collected on the nutritional medicine project to help them assess the class and make refinements if it&rsquo;s offered again. It&rsquo;s possible some iteration will be incorporated into the formal curriculum in the future, but it&rsquo;s too early to say.&rdquo;</p><p>This is not the case at <a href="http://tmedweb.tulane.edu/mu/teachingkitchen/">Tulane University</a>, where med students are required to study culinary medicine. Maker Clark is using teaching modules from the Tulane program in the 4-week&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; course that meets for three hours a session.&nbsp; Each class begin with case studies and clinical lectures. But for the second part of the class they put down the pens and pull on the chef hats.</p><p><strong>Breakfast tacos as medical care</strong></p><p>During a recent class, the University of Chicago medical students cooked up spinach and feta frittatas, quick granola, banana nut muffins and breakfast tacos.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the only opportunities we have at Pritzker to combine treating with pills and things that are directly in the patient&rsquo;s control,&rdquo; says first-year student Maggie Montoya. &ldquo;Also, it will help me with my cooking skills because I can&rsquo;t cook for beans.&rdquo;</p><p>This is a common refrain among med students who said they were eating a lot of take-out and processed food before they took the class. They see it as a way to improve their own health and become examples to their patients.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a huge part of this kind of training, says Dr. David Eisenberg of the <a href="https://www.samueliinstitute.org/">Samueli Institute </a>and the<a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/03/30/qa-with-dr-david-eisenberg-on-self-care-skills-teaching-kitchens-thinking-outside-of-the-box/"> Harvard School of Public Health.</a> For nearly a decade he&rsquo;s been leading a <a href="http://www.healthykitchens.org/">4-day culinary medicine class</a> for health professionals at the Culinary Institute of America in California.</p><p>Surveys from doctors who&#39;ve taken the class have convinced him that such personal experience is key to translating the information to a patient. He cites studies showing that&nbsp; doctors who exercise or have given up smoking are much better at counseling patients on the issues.<br /><br />In a recent <a href="http://academicmedicineblog.org/sneak-peek-nutrition-education-in-an-era-of-global-obesity-and-diabetes-thinking-outside-the-box/">article for Academic Medicine,</a> Eisenberg lamented that so few medical schools prepare their students to dispense dietary guidance, &ldquo;and more importantly there are really few if any requirements on the part of graduating medical students to be knowledgeable about nutrition and its translation into practical advice for patients,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And those competencies don&rsquo;t exist on the certification exams to become a licensed physician.&rdquo;</p><p>The accreditation body that decides standards for 4-year medical school training is called the <a href="http://www.lcme.org/">Liaison Committee for Medical Education.</a> Its co-chair, Dan Hunt, says that after four years of medical school, he might expect graduates to &quot;identify nutritional disorders, but I wouldn&rsquo;t expect them to be able to treat those disorders because they&rsquo;re going to get the management of the illness in the next set of [specialized residency] training.&quot;</p><p>But that&#39;s not really how it works. In fact, in its <a href="https://www.acgme.org/acgmeweb/tabid/134/ProgramandInstitutionalAccreditation/MedicalSpecialties/InternalMedicine.aspx">34- and 35-page accreditation documents </a>for doctors of internal medicine or cardiology, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education never once mentions a need for any nutrition knowledge. When WBEZ contacted Dr. Mary Lieh-Lai, at the ACGME to ask her why, she initially said that she doubted this was true. Lieh-Lai is the senior vice president of medical accreditation at ACGME and she asked for time to go over the documents herself, and then speak to us.</p><p>When we called 30 minutes later she conceded that nutrition is never mentioned in the documents, but added, &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t dictate the detailed requirements. We leave that up to the programs and the programs make those detailed requirements at the local level because it depends on the local needs and things of that nature.&rdquo;</p><p>Asked if ACGME might ever consider including nutrition knowledge as a requirement for accreditation, Lieh-Lai said, &ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>&ldquo;Tsunami of obesity and diabetes&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Still, Eisenberg blames the current situation less on negligence by the accreditors than a slow response to the &ldquo;tsunami of obesity and diabetes&rdquo; that&rsquo;s hit this country.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we could have predicted that health care professionals would need to know so much more about nutrition and its translation into shopping for and preparing healthy delicious foods,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Nor did we expect that we would need to know more about movement and exercise or being mindful in the way we live our lives and eat or how to change behaviors. I think these are relatively new areas of expertise that (we) really must grapple with for the next generation of health professionals.&rdquo;</p><p>Back in the Kendall College kitchen Maker Clark aims to give her students some of that expertise. In just the last two hours her students have mastered 12 healthy dishes that they will be able to pass on to future patients.</p><p>Today, this class is just a small grant-funded pilot, but Maker Clark envisions a day when it&rsquo;s standard fare in local med schools.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;That would be absolutely fantastic,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If we can get it to the point where they are getting credit for it and then incorporated into the curriculum, that is a goal.&rdquo;</p><p>A more immediate goal is for students to share what they&rsquo;ve learned with others. Later this month, they&rsquo;ll be expected to teach healthy cooking workshops in underserved Chicago communities as their final project.</p><p>WBEZ will check that out and report back on it here.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cooking-change-american-medical-schools-112130 Culturally-sensitive workouts yield health results for immigrants http://www.wbez.org/news/culturally-sensitive-workouts-yield-health-results-immigrants-111973 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Asian-exercise.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a Sunday afternoon at a small martial arts studio in a Lincolnwood strip mall, a dozen or so South Asian women warm up by marching in step to a thumping merengue beat.</p><p>Some of them wear stretchy yoga pants and t-shirts, but several sport traditional headscarves, and long, colorful tunics over billowy pants. Most of them are recent immigrants to the U.S. from India and Pakistan. All of them are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.</p><p>With flushed cheeks and glistening foreheads, they keep up with instructor Carolina Escrich as she barks out instructions. They jump, punch, squat, do push-ups and smile.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel happy &mdash; I&rsquo;m so happy,&rdquo; said Manisha Tailor giddily, after finishing the hour&rsquo;s workout right at the front of the class.</p><p>Tailor is one of thirty women recruited to participate in a 16-week study led by researchers at Northwestern University. She&rsquo;s been coming to the classes since February, and it was an entirely new experience for her.</p><p>&ldquo;I never danced before,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So, I like (to) dance. And I feel very comfortable.&rdquo; She adds that she also lost four pounds since coming to the class twice a week.</p><p>Tailor, like most of the participants, said she never exercised in her native India, and the thought of joining a gym was too intimidating. But now she&rsquo;s considering joining a women-only gym once the study finishes.</p><p>For Namratha Kandula, Principal Investigator of the Northwestern study, this is a breakthrough.</p><p>&ldquo;They have a lot of barriers to doing exercise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;South Asians uniformly are less physically active than other groups. This group has high rates of overweight and obesity, and high rates of physical inactivity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kandula said this directly relates to the prevalence of diabetes among South Asians. Nearly a quarter of these immigrants in the U.S. develop the disease &mdash; a rate higher than that of Caucasians, African Americans and Latinos.&nbsp;Kandula&rsquo;s research at Northwestern&rsquo;s Feinberg School of Medicine focuses on crafting effective interventions for communities who are underserved and unaware of best health practices.&nbsp;</p><p>Kandula said on top of sedentary lifestyles, South Asians are genetically predisposed to developing diabetes. Still, research has shown that individuals can improve their odds of avoiding the disease through healthy eating and exercise.</p><p>&ldquo;The problem is that that research was not reaching the South Asian community in the sense that they weren&rsquo;t necessarily hearing the same messages, they weren&rsquo;t getting more physically active,&rdquo; said Kandula. &ldquo;And we know that a lot of evidence-based programs &mdash; they don&rsquo;t reach some of the more disadvantaged communities or communities that are isolated because of culture or language or geographic location.&rdquo;</p><p>Kandula&rsquo;s team is monitoring the women&rsquo;s weight and blood sugar to see if they show any changes over the course of the program. They partnered with Metropolitan Asian Family Services, a social services agency that works with many South Asian immigrant families on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. MAFS recruited participants and provides them free transportation to and from the classes.</p><p>The study aims to educate immigrant women, in particular, about eating healthier and the importance of exercise. In crafting the workouts, Kandula had to consider cultural hurdles that stood in the way for many women who were most at-risk for developing diabetes.</p><p>&ldquo;Modesty is something that&rsquo;s really important,&rdquo; explained Kandula, &ldquo;and women didn&rsquo;t feel comfortable working out at a regular gym or recreational facility.&rdquo;</p><p>Additionally, many women told Kandula that they prioritized their families over their own health. So she worked that into the design of her program by offering free martial arts classes to their children once a week. The only condition was that the mothers had to come to their workouts at least twice a week.</p><p>In fact, many women attend three times a week &mdash; and on the days they show up, several will stay for two classes back-to-back.</p><p>Rehanna Patel, a 49-year old mother of four, said the class works for her because it is fun and there are no men.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important for it to be women&rsquo;s-only and having that secure space,&rdquo; she said through a translator.</p><p>Many other women echoed the thought, saying that they would feel less free to move about in the class if men were included, or if men could walk by and see them.</p><p>Patel said the class helped dispel her assumption that exercise is only for younger people.</p><p>&ldquo;I had always thought that these steps would only be done by a 20 or 25-year-old girl,&rdquo; she said, referring to the dance routine of the class. &ldquo;But the instructor did a great job.&rdquo;</p><p>Teaching these women was a new experience for instructor Carolina Escrich, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I needed to adjust the class and be careful with the type of music that I should use,<br />she said.</p><p>Escrich said it took two months to modify her usual Latin-inspired Zumba workouts into something more appropriate for her culturally conservative students. She modified the song selections to be less explicit, and has shifted the emphasis from sexy dance moves to more of an aerobics routine.</p><p>If the program shows significant health improvements, Namratha Kandula hopes they&rsquo;ll win funding for a wider study. But the women here have a more immediate concern.</p><p>&ldquo;I would feel really sad when the classes end,&rdquo; said Patel. &ldquo;The way we do it here, it&rsquo;s different, we enjoy it, I feel good and my body feels light.&rdquo;</p><p>Patel says even after the study ends she wants to keep exercising at home.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 10:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culturally-sensitive-workouts-yield-health-results-immigrants-111973 Emergency room visits for mental health skyrocket in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/emergency-room-visits-mental-health-skyrocket-chicago-111890 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Ambulance_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s no secret that both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois have major budget problems. Both governments have made cuts to services in recent years. But there is evidence that shrinking mental health services could actually cost money.</p><p>Heather Linehan is a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department. She is tall, with strong arms and gray hair. She has the kind of presence that is gentle, but also seems to say, you probably shouldn&rsquo;t mess with me.</p><p>Linehan said she has developed that demeanor from working over 30 years in emergency medical services. She said that kind of work gives her a particular view of the city. When you deal with emergencies you see what is not working. You are with people in their worst moments, the times when all the other safety nets have failed.<br /><br />&ldquo;On the street we say, you know what rolls down hill and who it lands on,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Linehan said when policy decisions get made, she sees a difference in who shows up in her ambulance. Years ago, she noticed when state hospitals started to close and not enough community-based services filled the gap. More recently she noticed when the state cut funding and later when the city closed half of its mental health clinics.</p><p>If Gov. Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s proposed budget passes she will be bracing herself again.<br /><br />Linehan is not alone. People who work on mental health say the cuts to Medicaid and mental health services would mean more people with mental illness visiting emergency rooms.</p><p>It is a trend that is already underway. Data WBEZ obtained from the state show startling increases in Chicago. From 2009 to 2013, 37 percent more patients were discharged from emergency rooms for psychiatric treatment. The biggest jump came in 2012, the same year the city closed half of its mental health clinics.</p><p>The city did not agree to an interview for this story. But in a statement it said the mental health infrastructure in Chicago is stronger than it was four years ago.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Inside an Emergency Department</span></p><p>The emergency room spike has already forced some emergency departments to make big, costly changes, just so they can keep these patients safe, including literally rebuilding parts of their hospitals.</p><p>Sheri Richardt is the manager of Crisis and Behavioral Health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where construction is underway on a new behavioral health unit.</p><p>Richardt said when a psychiatric patients come in to the emergency department they need special examination rooms. She pointed out how the pipes under the sink and toilet are covered.</p><p>&ldquo;There is nothing on the walls you could hang yourself with or hurt yourself with,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />As visits climbed the hospital needed more spaces like this. The new rooms will be designed for safety, but also to give the patients a more quiet and private space, away from the hustle of the rest of the emergency department.</p><p>Richardt said she witnessed one reason why psychiatric ER visits rose by 37 percent.&nbsp;She said hospitals often recommend Medicaid patients that follow up with a therapist or maybe psychiatrist after they are discharged from the emergency room.<br /><br />But &nbsp;Richardt&nbsp;said some patients live in areas where there just are not enough places to get care. She said these patients could wait as long as nine months for an appointment, &ldquo;and if you come to the emergency room because you are in crisis and then you can not get follow up care for nine months you are probably going to go back to the emergency room for care.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The $2.5 million patient</span></p><p>Richardt&nbsp;saw the same patients rotate in again and again. So she pulled one patient&rsquo;s files and found that woman had visited the Illinois Masonic Emergency Room 750 times over the course of about 10 years.</p><p>Richardt&nbsp;said the patient was picked up by an ambulance or police officer almost daily. Sometimes the emergency department would discharge her, only to have her appear back a few hours later.</p><p>&ldquo;The cost of that for us was two and a half million dollars. Medicaid dollars,&rdquo; said Richardt. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s only at our hospital. This an individual who went between multiple hospitals and so we don&rsquo;t have the true cost.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many patients, she had different, interconnected problems. She had mental health needs, drank too much, fell down a lot. She didn&rsquo;t have stable housing and started having seizures.</p><p>&ldquo;And it wasn&rsquo;t only about the money; this is an individual we believed was going to...die on the street,&rdquo; said Richardt.</p><p>Richardt and her team decided to take full responsibility for this patient. They coordinated all aspects of her care, helped her get an apartment and worked with nurses and a chaplain. It worked. She&rsquo;s only visited the emergency room a handful of times in the last year.</p><p>About a year ago they launched a team with social workers, chaplains and nurses to provide the same type of care to more patients. They work with the hardest cases, including people with mental illness who often visit the emergency room frequently.</p><p>The hospital said their visits have begun to plateau.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Shifting Cost</span></p><p>The kind of wrap-around care performed at Illinois Masonic relies on a range of services. Those services are threatened under Rauner&rsquo;s proposed budget, which cuts millions from community services and housing.</p><p>We contacted his office and asked to speak to anyone from the administration about his budget. In a statement his office said cuts are needed because of reckless spending from the past. They refused to do an interview.</p><p>So we called other state Republican leaders and were referred to Rep. David Leitch. Leitch is a conservative who hates government bureaucracy and believes in fiscal responsibility. And that&rsquo;s exactly why he says he opposes these mental health cuts.</p><p>The cuts mean &ldquo;the emergency rooms pick up more and the jails pick up more. Any cuts the state makes, simply means somebody else has to pick up the cost,&rdquo; said Leitch.</p><p>But don&rsquo;t take Leitch&rsquo;s word that cuts one place may show up as costs somewhere else. Take it from someone who lives it.</p><p>Kathy Powers went to the city&rsquo;s Northtown Rogers Park Clinic for bipolar disorder. Even before the city closed her clinic, she was having trouble getting an appointment with a psychiatrist there, or anywhere else.</p><p>&ldquo;So I went to the emergency room, because I was a girl with a purpose,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Workers at the emergency room said they had a reference for a psychiatrist at Northtown Rogers Park Clinic &mdash; the exact place she had not been able to get care.</p><p>&ldquo;And I said, I just came from Northtown Rogers Park clinic&hellip; don&rsquo;t recommend it anymore, they don&rsquo;t have any psychiatrists,&rdquo; said Powers.<br /><br />Eventually the emergency doctors renewed her prescription for lithium. Medicaid picked up the tab. It really gets to Powers how much that simple prescription costs taxpayers. She said we could be giving her much better care for less money.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emergency-room-visits-mental-health-skyrocket-chicago-111890