The phenomenon known as "medical tourism" has pumped millions of dollars into the Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rican economies as Americans head south of the border for cheap cosmetic surgery. Low-cost dental procedures in Mexico and India have also attracted medical tourists.
And now, North Idaho wants a piece of the action, particularly targeting Canadians.
This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls is teaming up with the Coeur d'Alene Resort to bundle special deals for Canadians who are heading to Kootenai County for medical care. Hospital officials said the Canadian customers are heading south "due to long wait times for procedures" near their homes. And according the U.S. Department of Commerce, medical tourism from the Canadian market is expected to grow by nearly a third in the next several years.
"We're giving Canadians the ability to move to the proverbial front of the line to access our outstanding heath care," said NWSH CEO Vaughn Ward.
And yes, that's the same Vaughn Ward who famously imploded in 2010, when while running for Idaho's 1st Congressional District in a mistake-riddled campaign he plagiarized speeches and called Puerto Rico a country.
Lately, Ward has been the chief executive of the Post Falls private hospital and recently accepted a position as regional vice president for United Surgical Partners International in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Officials at St. Luke's Health System cheered the news Friday when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said St. Luke's could hold onto the Saltzer Medical Group ... at least, temporarily.
Just last month, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said that St. Luke's needed to start dissolving its ownership of Saltzer, following his January ruling that indicated St. Luke's was in violation of antitrust laws.
But St. Luke's immediately appealed, and the 9th Circuit granted a stay on Winmill's ruling, saying it would expedite a full hearing on the issue and move it to the front burner of the appeal's court's calendar "at the earliest possible date."
Sally Jeffcoat, the woman who has been at the helm of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center since 2009, is being promoted to take over as executive vice president of the west/Midwest group of St. Al's parent, CHE Trinity Health, with executive oversight of hospitals in Idaho, Oregon, California and throughout the Midwest. She won't be leaving Boise. A statement from St. Al's said Jeffcoat will be commuting from her Boise home.
In May 2012, Boise Weekly sat down with Jeffcoat (BW, Citizen, "Sally Jeffcoat," May 16, 2012) to talk about her employees (nearly 5,000) and how many people walk through St. Al's doors each year (approximately 300,000).
"I see it as a sacred thing—the opportunity to live our mission, caring with dignity. I get a little philosophical about it at times and I take it quite seriously," Jeffcoat told BW. "I think it's really important to interact with as many people as possible. And part of that is being a faith-based organization. I hope that at least once every day somebody feels that I bring God's presence into the room with me."
Meanwhile, Rodney Reider, current President of St. Al's, will be assuming the role of CEO. Reider has been in the position of President since 2010.
There's no such thing as a good month for a recall, but a few days before the Fourth of July couldn't be any worse for a an ice cream recall.
Nestle is pulling 10,000 cases of its 14-ounce Chocolate Peanut Butter Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream because the containers were mislabeled. The product did not say it contains peanuts, which can pose problems with people who struggle with allergies. The recall affects 14-ounce cartons of ice cream with a best-by date of May 13, 2015.
This latest incident comes on the heels of another ice cream recall, when Rite Aid pulled hundreds of 16-oz. pints distributed under the Thrifty brand name.
Those recalled pints contained pistachio ice cream; however, the ice cream was inadvertently placed in containers labeled as being Mint ‘n Chip. Again, the recall was to protect people with nut allergies.
It's only May, but the nation's health officials say this year's number of U.S. patients with measles has already surpassed levels not seen since before the turn of the 21st century.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 288 cases is the largest number of cases in the first five months of the year since 1994, and this year's outbreak is a "wake-up call" for immunization.
Nearly all of this year's cases have been linked to importations from at least 18 countries, and half of the cases have been associated with the Philippines, where a large outbreak has been ongoing since October 2013.
In December 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled the growing number of Idahoans, particularly in Idaho's panhandle, who have been pushing back against immunizing their children (BW, News, "Idaho's Epidemic of Fear," Dec. 14, 2011).
"You need to stop using the word immunization. We don't say immunization. Vaccines don't immunize anything," Ingri Cassel, president of Vaccination Liberation lectured Boise Weekly.
But in the nearby Lake Pend Oreille School District, nurse Dana Williams told BW that she remains perplexed by the number of parents who have opted out of having their children immunized.
"This is stupid," she told BW. "There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates. We're going to end up with something bad happening here."
And Cynthia Taggart, public information officer for the Panhandle Health District told BW, "It's a mind set. We have had vaccination opponents here for many, many years. It goes way back."
Nearly 700,000 residents of Portland, Ore., and its surrounding communities are free to turn on the tap again—their water has been given a clean bill of health.
Portland Water Bureau officials said Saturday that a follow-up test of the city’s drinking water showed it was clear of contamination with harmful bacteria—and residents would no longer have to boil it first.
The announcement came a day after officials said they found E. coli in previous water samples.
A number of Portland restaurants chose to shut down Friday and Saturday, saying they had to throw away food and produce that had been washed in potentially contaminated water.
Water bureau officials pointed to animal waste in an uncovered reservoir at Oregon's Mount Tabor as the source of the contamination.
"We may never know what kind of animal waste, but when we drain the reservoir we will look for obvious smoking guns like dead birds at the bottom," said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff.
The Portland Water Bureau's website crashed during the alert from all the web traffic.
Residents and visitors to Portland, Ore., are struggling with a major health scare, as they're being cautioned to boil their drinking water this holiday weekend after the discovery of e.coli bacteria in the city's water supply.
The city-wide boil notice, which went out May 23, affects more than 700,000 residents of Portland and several suburbs. It will remain in effect until the water supply is deemed safe. No word yet on how that water became contaminated.
Portland retailers scrambled to to make arrangements for abundant supplies to be shipped into the region Friday night; meanwhile, bottled water is flying from supermarket shelves.
The samples that tested positive for bacteria were collected this past week from two reservoirs at Oregon's Mount Tabor. The Portland Water Bureau said it collects about 240 bacterial samples per month throughout the system, and the test to determine the presence of bacteria takes 18 hours. Portland officials said contamination can occur when there is a loss of water pressure, a pipe breaks or when conditions expose drinking water to outside elements, such as animal waste.
Portland's Water Bureau drew national attention last month when it discarded more than 35 million gallons of drinking water because a teenager allegedly urinated into a reservoir at Mount Tabor. That reservoir was one of the two that tested positive for e. coli.
The illnesses of at least 11 people across four states have been linked to contaminated ground beef, leading to the recall of 1.8 million pounds of the product sold under a variety of labels, but coming from one source: the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit.
And while the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says at least five retailers may have received the tainted products—none of them in Idaho—government regulators are keeping mum on which restaurants had received or served the beef. It turns out that 10 of those people were sickened after eating at restaurants that received contaminated meat.
"People who were exposed were already exposed, so it doesn't help the public to tell them now that a certain restaurant was associated with these illnesses," David Goldman, assistant administrator for the USDA Office of Public Health Science, told CNN this morning. "Our job really is to identify product that may still be available."
The recall is considered a "Class 1" health hazard, meaning there is a reasonable probability that "the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."
Too many kids are taking too much codeine.
A 10-year-study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is warning that emergency room doctors continue to prescribe codeine to children more than 500,000 times per year, when better options are available.
"Codeine is a pro-drug, which means it's converted into morphine by your liver," Dr. Dyan Hes, a New York City pediatrician, told CBS News. "It doesn't have a good safety protocol profile so the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended for a long time—over 10 years—to not use codeine as a cough suppressant and it's also not effective."
In 2012, the World Health Organization removed codeine from its list of essential drugs. And the AAP has warned U.S. doctors twice—in guidelines issued in 1997 and 2007—to avoid prescribing codeine to children.
Researchers said today's study was the first of its kind to attempt an estimate on the number of children being prescribed codeine in U.S. emergency rooms and to see if those warnings made any difference.
The study authors estimated that each year up to 57,000 children who metabolize codeine quickly are at risk of overdose. Moreover, as many as 250,000 children who metabolize the drug poorly are at risk for low levels leading to inadequate pain relief.