Wellness and healthcare are an unavoidably big issue to everyone, so it never hurts to keep up-to-date on the latest local happenings. In fact, there have been quite a few big stories in the realm of healthcare and pain treatment in Colorado lately.

What’s going around in Colorado

Lawns are starting to green up, and there are even a few flowers blooming already. It’s a welcome change from the cold and dreary, but we all know what it means: allergy season is here. Allergists are already predicting that this is going to be one of the worst allergy seasons in memory. There are lots of ways to help yourself make it through allergy season, several of which are discussed in this Daily Dose blog post from The Denver Post. If you’re really miserable, pay your physician a visit. Rampant allergies can lead to lots of other issues, like sinus infections.

The last several months have also seen a lot of particularly nasty colds, flus, and respiratory viruses, especially in children. One type of virus, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), was found to be present in a higher-than-normal number of children respiratory-related hospital visits. According to researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado, this might be to blame for an increase in children with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). There’s not yet enough evidence to prove a connection between AFP and the enterovirus, but there is enough to suggest a possible association. In the past, the enterovirus has also been associated in children with Crohn’s.

Additionally, the Disneyland measles outbreak has finally reached Colorado. The El Paso County Public Health Department reported that a woman was hospitalized at Penrose Hospital with measles in early January. The woman had visited Disneyland in mid-December and was the county’s first reported case of measles in over 20 years. As many as 70 hospital employees and 200 patients were possibly exposed, but the majority of the people exposed were already immune through past exposure or vaccination. For anyone unsure about their own immunity to measles, vaccinations and blood tests are always an option.

Healthcare in Colorado

Colorado legislature is looking at a bill that would establish an employee-funded, state-administered family-and-medical-leave program. The current bill is similar to one that was proposed in 2014 but wasn’t passed. The Colorado Business Journal explains how the bill would work if it was passed this time around:

“It would establish a new division within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to collect premiums from employees of companies of all sizes. It also would create a pool of money available to workers who need to take extended leave to care for themselves or a family member but who do not have access to paid sick leave from their employer.”

Those in favor of this bill tout the benefits it would have to anyone who needs extended sick leave, while those against it criticize government interference in business practices – especially since no businesses, even those with as few as two employees, would be exempt.

Insurance for Colorado patients might be changing soon, too. Health plans that don’t conform to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will not be allowed in 2016. The Connect for Health Colorado exchange should allow Coloradans to find plans that fit the Affordable Care Act, but those using the exchange have had a lot of trouble in the past. Thankfully, Senator Ellen Roberts, now chair of the legislative committee that oversees Connect for Health Colorado, is already beginning work to “do some fact-finding and try to snap the exchange into shape,” according to Health News Colorado.

For LGBT individuals, finding healthcare can still sometimes be difficult. Some medical professionals are unaware of specific health needs of LGBT people, such as a higher incidence of substance abuse or stress-related illness. In some places, no measures are in place to prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals. Conservative and rural areas, in general, are more difficult places for LGBT people to get the proper healthcare. For its part, Colorado has several medical centers that have inclusive, non-discrimination policies in place for patients, visitors, and employees, as well as training in LGBT patient-centered care.

Colorado’s medical advancements

Hospital-acquired infections have been a big issue nationwide. Thanks to recent efforts to reduce hospital infections, state-by-state data is now available. Overall, Colorado’s hospitals have been doing quite well, with lower rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and surgical-site infections. However, urinary-tract infections have increased in numbers compared to the baseline studies from 2008. New recommendations are being put into action so the rates of all hospital-acquired infections should, hopefully, continue to diminish. The complete results of this study are available here.

Colorado has also joined the ranks of states that require hospital labs to perform newborns’ bloodwork on the weekends, so that potentially-fatal genetic conditions can be caught in time. One Colorado Springs woman had a baby boy on a Friday in 2009, but because his bloodwork wasn’t done until early the next week, he died of a rare genetic disorder called MCAD. MCAD is a metabolic disorder and is 90% treatable when caught early; another family’s baby boy, born on a Tuesday, also had MCAD but is now a healthy toddler because his bloodwork was done quickly enough to diagnose and treat his disorder.

Colorado’s first-ever double lung and liver transplant was successfully performed in March of this year at the University of Colorado Hospital. 30-year-old Shaun McCabe was born with cystic fibrosis, which affected his lungs as well as his liver and digestion. After a 12-hour surgery, McCabe now has new, healthy lungs and an excellent prognosis.

Have you heard any news about healthcare and pain treatment in Colorado lately?

Image by Larry Johnson via Flickr

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