Illinois Public Media News
Additional doses of H1N1 or swine flu vaccine have allowed Champaign-Urbana's Public Health District to start turning its attention toward priority groups.
A clinic to treat the youngest of populations starts Tuesday at the district offices. Administrator Julie Pryde says the goal of vaccinating those six months to five years of age first is protecting those who are in day care or some other home care setting, where they're around many other young kids.
The initial doses last week were used to treat health care workers in the area. Pryde says now that those vaccinations are mostly done, pregnant women can get their shots through primary care physicians. And she says those facilities will also be treating those with infants six months or younger, with the goal of treating older children by next Monday.
"We're hoping to get everybody in the preschool population who wants it this week, assuming our vaccine holds out we'll get those done in the next week. Then, hopefully if we get the vaccine in we'll start in the schools. Everything is dependent on the vaccine that comes in," Pryde said.
The Public Health District has received a total of 14,500 doses of the vaccine. Pryde says that amount came in quicker than anticipated. The district has ordered a total of 100,000 doses.
The walk-in clinics for six months to 5 year-olds will run Tuesday through Friday at the CUPHD offices on West Kenyon Road from 10 to 7. Pryde says the district will likely hold one or two clinics for preschool age kids in rural Champaign County as well this week.
For quicker service, parents are advised to print and sign the consent forms available on the district's web site at c-uphd-dot-org.
The owners of a bar in Hoopeston will be the first to pay a fine for violating the Smoke-Free Illinois Act.
Vermilion County Health Department Administrator Steve Laker says there have been several complaints regarding Deano's on Main. But the $100 fine stems from one incident last March, when a health department worker found a customer smoking while on a routine inspection. An administrative law judge upheld the fine late last month.
Laker says it's become easier to seek out fines against bars and restaurants for smoking since March. Now the process is handled by administrative fines, rather than criminal penalties handed out by a state's attorney's office.
And Laker says he expects complaints to pick up. "These places that we've had multiple citations on, we're just going to randomly inspect them - we're not necessarily going to wait for complaints," says Laker. "Now this is the time of year that complaints start coming back in because it's cold outside, it's windy, it's wet. And so they want to smoke inside instead of outside, so we'll start getting more complaints." Illinois' first administrative hearings over violations of the smoking ban were recently held in Champaign. The Hoopeston bar must pay its $100 fine by December, or owners won't be able to renew food service permits.
The advent of a potentially rough flu season means restrictions on visitors at at least one hospital in east-central Illinois.
Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville is forbidding anyone under 18 from visiting patients during the influenza season. Chief nursing executive Molly Nicholson says it's to protect both patients and visitors from seasonal flu or H1N1. As for adult visitors, Nicholson is asking people to exercise their better judgment.
"If they are ill, our preference would certainly be that they not be here as visitors. If they must visit, we will ask them to wear a mask and use proper hand hygiene as they are visiting the facility," Nicholson said.
Nicholson says social isolation is effective at keeping influenza from spreading, particularly among children. Provena United Samaritans is asking parents with appointments to not bring their children along. But Nicholson says the restriction does not extend to children needing treatment.
In Urbana, Provena Covenant Medical Center and Carle Foundation Hospital both say children are still allowed to visit except for certain departments such as the neo-natal unit.
Vermilion County's Health Department won't provide seasonal flu clinics for the first time in over 30 years.
Administrator Steven Laker says it's not receiving enough doses of the vaccine from a distributor to even hold one day of the walk-in clinic, despite being told by a distributor two weeks ago that enough would be available. That will force a few thousand people to get their shots from clinics and retail pharmacies.
Laker contends public health departments are being squeezed for vaccines by those pharmacies. And he says it's not a supply problem, but rather one of distributors meeting federal demands for H1N1, or swine flu vaccine:
"So they had a dual production stream going -- H1N1 and seasonal flu," Laker said. "My conjecture is that the vaccine is manufactured -- they just can't get it packaged and distributed while they're settling their federal contracts."
Laker says the department will get 600 doses of seasonal flu vaccine to fulfill contracts for vaccinating state and county workers. An additional 300 doses of children's vaccine will be available by appointment only while supplies last.
Vermilion County's flu clinics have been held each year since 1976. Laker says another concern is they're a revenue stream -- his department stands to lose about 50-thousand dollars. But he says it's too soon to say what other programs might be affected.
Meanwhile, demand for flu vaccine at the U of I's McKinley Health Center has temporarily suspended shots to faculty, staff, retirees, and state workers. Director Dr. Robert Palinkas says some students may even be turned away as it works with a limited supply. He says it's unclear when additional vaccines will become available.
Proposed rules prompted by the deaths of two Illinois dental patients would increase the training that's required for dentists and their staffs.
The changes are meant to prevent tragedies like the death of a 5-year-old girl who slipped into a coma after being sedated during a routine procedure at a Chicago dentist's office.
That death in 2006 was followed the next year by the death of a 46-year-old Chicago school principal who suffered cardiac arrest while under sedation for a root canal.
The proposals are on the Web site of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The department is accepting public comments. The rules are subject to review by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
As the national debate over health care ensues, the Illinois Supreme Court is considering a case over a Urbana hospital's tax status. The outcome, claim hospital officials, could lead to reduced medical services and higher prices.
Justices will have to decide if Provena Covenant Medical Center provided enough free or discounted care to poor patients to qualify as tax exempt. The state in 2003 determined the answer was no and forced the Catholic-run hospital to pay property taxes.
Assistant Attorney General Evan Siegel defended the state's action before the court. He says the year before, only 300 of Provena's 110 thousand admissions received charity care, not enough to deserve tax breaks.
"It doesn't matter whether an organization itself is charitable," Siegel told the high court. "What matters is whether its using the property for a charitable purpose."
But Provena's attorney, Patrick Coffey, argues the hospital qualifies because it cared for any and all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
"It doesn't matter what amount of charity, here free care ... was given," Cofey said. "Free care was given without limit."
The court's decision has widespread ramifications statewide. If nonprofit hospitals have to pay taxes, there's speculation they would increase prices or cut back services. The high court is expected to issue an opinion in coming months.
UI Professor's Innovations Make Him a MacArthur "Genius
If you hear about someone pursuing their wildest dreams with a monetary windfall, the first thing to come to mind might be a lottery winner. But as AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, the latest half-millionaire in Illinois has worked hard for the reward.
A two year old girl who came down with a suspected case of bacterial meningitis has died, two days after first displaying symptoms.
Carle Foundation Hospital confirms the death of Kyla Kinney. Health officials in Vermilion County say she was brought to the hospital in Hoopeston Tuesday with symptoms of the contagious disease, which inflames the membranes around the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal.
Vermilion County Public Health Administrator Steve Laker says the toddler's family has been given prophylaxis, or an oral medication against bacterial meningitis - so have people involved in the toddler's day care. He says it will take time to see if anything else needs to be done.
"It is a disease that can be sporadic, so it is hard to prevent", says Laker. "When you do have a case occur, one of the first considerations --- is there a necessity of doing prophylaxis?"
Laker says the particular bacteria suspected in this case can harbor themselves in some people without causing symptoms, only to infect someone else with the disease.
Two Carle Clinic psychiatrists are now seeing patients at Provena Covenant Medical Center, in a collaboration that the two health care providers say marks an expansion of adult psychiatric services in Champaign-Urbana.
Carle Clinic spokesman Sean Williams says Drs. Timothy Roberts and James Whisenand are moving to Provena Covenant from the Pavilion psychiatric hospital in Champaign.
"Provena did have psychiatric services", explains Williams. "They only had one full-time doctor, Dr. (Feiteng) Su, who oversaw the care plans for patients. So, adding Drs. Roberts and Whisenand to the Provena staff will help them be able to expand supervision of care of patients."
Provena Covenant Vice-President Bob Sarkar says there are certain advantages to receiving psychiatric treatment in a full-service hospital.
"We have a comprehensive program with ready access to clinical support services", says Sarkar, "like dietitians, physical therapists, etc. So, when a patient needs to be admitted to any acute care setting --- if there is a complication --- we do not have to transfer the patients across town, but transfer the patient to another floor."
Williams says the Pavilion can afford to lose Roberts and Whisenand, because it now has its own in-house psychiatrist, who works alongside four other Carle Clinic psychiatrists.
Now that they're at Provena Covenant, Doctors Roberts and Whisenhand will continue to accept all insurance plans currently accepted by Carle Clinic. And they can also be covered by Medicaid, which was not possible at the Pavilion.
A case of bacterial meningitis may have arisen in northern Vermilion County.
The Vermilion County Health Department says a toddler was taken to Hoopeston Community Memorial Hospital yesterday with symptoms of the sometimes-fatal brain infection - he was airlifted several hours late to Urbana's Carle Hospital. Health administrator Steve Laker won't release the toddler's name or condition.
Bacterial meningitis can be very contagious, spread by contact with nose or throat secretions. And Laker says this particular strain of meningitis bacteria is highly difficult to trace back to a source.
People can be colonized with that; just be carriers of it and don't know they are carriers," said Laker. "What happens is that you get a susceptible individual around somebody who's carrying the organism and there's a transmission, and you have individuals who don't even know they're colonized with it."
Laker says several people in the toddler's family and at a day care facility have been given oral medications to help prevent another meningitis case.
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