Health News Roundup

Suicide attempts rising among black teenagers, and more in this week’s roundup

health care

To save rural hospitals, Georgia requires classes for CEOs
Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press, October 13
Alarmed by a rash of recent hospital closings, Georgia lawmakers are now requiring executives and board members at almost all the state’s rural hospitals to receive training on subjects like financial management and strategic planning to improve their decision making and avoid missteps that can precipitate their hospitals’ decline.

Where you die can affect your chance of being an organ donor
Lauren Neergaard and Nicky Forster, Associated Press, October 14
If Connecticut resident Roland Henry had died in a different part of the country, his organs might have been recovered. And lives could have been saved. But the local organ collection agency said no. It gave no reason, no explanation to his family, even though he appeared to be a well-qualified donor despite advancing age: He died in a hospital, on a ventilator, previously healthy until a car crash that led to a stroke. Henry’s case illustrates troubling uncertainty in a transplant system run by government contractors that are under fire for letting potentially usable organs go to waste. Under U.S. transplant rules, the country is divided into 58 zones, each assigned an “organ procurement organization” in charge of donation at death. Because these organizations self-report to the government, it is difficult to compare them and evaluate how each of them are doing.


Growing opioid crisis tests limits of methadone clinics; advocates favor expansion
Steve Hamm, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, October 16
Methadone clinics tend to be concentrated in cities because of federal regulation. Yet over the past two decades, opioids have spread rapidly to the suburbs and rural communities. Connecticut currently has 29 clinics, serving 21,288 individuals, and while the need for methadone is growing and spans the entire state, only two clinics have been added in the past five years—one in West Haven and one in Waterbury. Several organizations are considering opening new clinics—mostly in the middle of the state, along the shoreline and in the more rural areas. But when they propose new clinics, they typically face fierce opposition.


When medical debt collectors decide who gets arrested
Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, October 16
Across the country, thousands of people are jailed each year for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. The practice spread in the wake of the recession as collectors found judges willing to use their broad powers of contempt to wield the threat of arrest. Since the Affordable Care Act of 2010, prices for medical services have ballooned; insurers have nearly tripled deductibles — the amount a person pays before their coverage kicks in — and raised premiums and copays, as well. As a result, tens of millions of people without adequate coverage are expected to pay larger portions of their rising bills. The sickest patients are often the most indebted, and they’re not exempt from arrest.

mental health
Suicide attempts among black children and teens increasing at alarming rates, study finds
Ayanna Runcie, CBS News, October 14
Suicide attempts among black children and teens are increasing at alarming rates. And while suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens across the U.S., suicide attempts over the past two decades decreased for teens in all ethnic groups except for African Americans. Self-reported suicide attempts for black adolescents rose by 73% between 1991 to 2017. In comparison, self-reported suicide attempts for white adolescents fell by 7.5% over the same period.