July 18 - 22, 2011

Health-care costs: Debt talks boost Medicare reform plans
The Christian Science Monitor
... Medicare, which now insures nearly 50 million elderly and disabled Americans, was designed to require enrollees to pay at least some of their own health care bills. "What many people may not realize is that the Medicare benefit package is not actually very generous," said Jonathan Oberlander, a University of North Carolina health policy professor who has written extensively about the program's history.

Melungeons ponder their curious heritage
The Associated Press
... UNC-Chapel Hill genetics professor J.P. Evans said combining DNA research with stories such as the one the British told in the 1600s can be useful. "The Portuguese were the first Europeans in the Age of Discovery to start crossing the Atlantic," Evans said. "It would not surprise me at all if some wound up in the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee." Evans said the Melungeons' story helps prove that people around the world are not as different as they sometimes might seem.

Attacking HIV (Editorial)

The News & Observer (Raleigh)
... AIDS gained high-profile "recognition" as a disease in the early 1980s, and research has produced advanced treatments. But UNC's Dr. David Margolis will lead research with his colleagues and scientists from nine other universities to go beyond those treatments and try to get rid of HIV in the cells and tissues of patients. That UNC is charting the course of this research, which has huge global health implications, is a point of pride for the Research Triangle and a state that has long enjoyed the reflected glories of the "people's university."

UNC: "Trial Effect" Exists, But Diminishing, For HIV Patients
WCHL 1360-AM (Chapel Hill)
A new study conducted by the UNC School of Medicine has confirmed the existence of a “trial effect” in clinical trials for treatment of HIV, but that effect has lessened over time. “Trial effect” refers to the benefits participants experience merely by participating in the trial, whether it be a shift in behavior or better treatment results.

The Human Camera: Stephen Wiltshire
"20/20" ABC News
...Wiltshire is autistic, and his struggle with communication may be the reason for his artistic success, explained Dr. Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer at Autism Speaks, and research professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Autism is a neural developmental condition that shows up early in life. It involves difficulties in the area of social interaction, with reading facial expressions, with forming peer relations -- overall, difficulties in communication," Dawson said.

More Evidence That Early Treatment Can Stop HIV's Spread to Partners
HealthDay News
...In the latest study in NEJM, a team led by Dr. Myron S. Cohen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tracked outcomes for couples where one partner was HIV-positive and the other was not (evenly split between males and females carrying the virus). The infected partner was randomized to receive a combination of a variety of standard HIV-suppressing medications, either immediately after their diagnosis or in a delayed fashion (for example, until their immune cell counts reached a certain low level, or when HIV-linked symptoms appeared).

Fighting AIDS (Letter to the Editor)

The News & Observer (Raleigh)
I would like to congratulate UNC-Chapel Hill on its new federal grant, which will help us get one step closer to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS (July 12 front-page article). UNC has long been a champion in global health, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS research, and this new grant presents an incredible opportunity to advance the fight against AIDS to new historic levels. (Bobbie Caraher, Chapel Hill)

Reasons for postnatal depression
The Times of India
The first few weeks after childbirth are a critical period for mother and newborn. Now, a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that women who have problems breastfeeding in the first two weeks after giving birth are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression two months later compared to women without such difficulties.

Mothers with breastfeeding difficulties more likely to suffer postpartum depression
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
Women who experience troubles breastfeeding in the first two weeks after giving birth are more likely to suffer postpartum depression two months later compared to women without similar difficulties, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ...We also found that women with severe breast pain at day one and also at two weeks postpartum were twice as likely to be depressed compared to women that did not experience pain with nursing,” said Stephanie Watkins, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, in a press release.

Many young children spanked
The Chapel Hill News
A new survey finds that 30 percent of North Carolina mothers of children less than 2 years old say they have spanked their children in the last year. ..."We were pretty surprised by the staggeringly high rate of spanking," said Adam Zolotor, lead author of the study, an assistant professor in the in the UNC and a core faculty member of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center.

Boy impales neck playing ninjas
United Press International
..."It sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to leave the object in place," says Dr. Abhi Mehrotra, assistant medical director at the University of North Carolina Department of Emergency Medicine. "You don't know what the damage is to the structure underneath. The object may be stopping the bleeding that may be happening." By doing so, doctors can assess the damage and make sure they have proper specialists on hand.

Bamboo Stick Impales 13-Year-Old Playing Ninja

ABC News
..."It sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to leave the object in place," says Dr. Abhi Mehrotra, assistant medical director at the University of North Carolina Department of Emergency Medicine. Even if an object is impaled in the eye, don't pull it out, he warns. "You don't know what the damage is to the structure underneath. The object may be stopping the bleeding that may be happening." 

Physician Says Stay Out of The Heat To Avoid Illness
WCHL 1360-AM (Chapel Hill)
With daily heat advisories and temperatures well into the 90s, taking the right measures to prevent excessive heat exposure could be the difference between a relaxing trip to the beach and a trip to the hospital. “What I tell folk in terms of prevention is making sure that if you are planning on being outside, take frequent breaks to get out of the sun," says assistant medical director for UNC Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine Abhi Mehrotra. " Make sure you stay hydrated with water or a dilute sports drink and stay away from caffeinated beverages.”

UNC Health Care to manage Pardee hospital
The Citizen-Times (Asheville)
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday expressed support for a management agreement between the Henderson County Hospital Corporation, which oversees Pardee Hospital, and University of North Carolina Health Care. ...UNC will supervise business functions, budgets, managed care contracting and other business practices, but the Pardee Board will still oversee the operation. The county will continue to own the hospital.

DNA finding credited to UNC
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
For decades, biology students have learned their ATGCs - a four-letter alphabet that spells out the four chemical building blocks of DNA: adenosine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. But DNA's alphabet expanded years ago. A fifth chemical building block was discovered in 1948, and a sixth in 2009. Now, researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill have discovered two new building blocks, for a total of eight. Their discovery was published Thursday in the journal Science.

Millions Going to UNC Med School
The Triangle Business Journal
UNC Health Care has kept operating margins below 2007 levels – a year when an uproar erupted over CEO Bill Roper’s drive for higher profits – in part by transferring millions of dollars each year to the UNC School of Medicine. Since 2006, UNC Health Care has increased its transfer by nearly eight fold, from $9.8 million that year to $87.9 million in 2011. Karen McCall, UNC Health Care vice president of public affairs for both entities, explains the increases as evidence of a growing integration between the hospital system and the medical school.

Teaching hospitals face loss of millions in Medicare cuts
The Triangle Business Journal
Teaching hospitals could suffer significant revenue losses if a federal deficit reduction plan ends up cutting Medicare payments. ...“To take away this very vital source of funding for teaching physicians, I think, is going to have large consequences in the years ahead,” says Karen McCall, University of North Carolina Health Care vice president of public affairs. “Not just for UNC but for the nation.”

Roper could win some, lose some
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
For William Roper, CEO of the UNC Health Care System, the mega-merger of Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions announced Thursday could mean a $3 million payday. Roper, who has been a Medco board member for nearly four years, will receive cash and Express Scripts stock worth as much as $3 million for Medco shares and options he owns. But he also may lose his Medco board seat.

Surviving A Double-Lung Transplant: 'Life Is Good'
"Six months out of a double lung transplant," his mother says. Howell says he was worried — but not just about possibly drowning. "The first thing that popped in my mind was Dr. Egan, who's kind of a little fireball," he says, "how mad he was going to be that he had given me this transplant — and I blew it just being stupid."

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