July 6, 2015

UNMC/Nebraska Medicine – National Ebola Training and Education Center

The University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine has been named one of three institutions that will make up the National Ebola Training and Education Center. UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold says they are pleased to accept this designation as a national leader in the world’s fight against Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Emory University in Atlanta and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City were also selected.

The three institutions will share a $12-million federal grant from the U-S Department of Health and Human Services to train other health care providers in all 50 states on strategies to manage Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases. UNMC will receive $5.1-million.

Fireworks impact on air quality

Everyone loves a backyard fireworks display or attending a big show on the 4th of July. Douglas County Health Department Director Dr. Adi Pour doesn’t want to rain on anyone’s celebration but says those with certain health conditions should limit their time outdoors due to the heavy smoke.

Dr. Pour says the department’s monitor shows the same in a national study that partial levels on the 4th of July, between 9 and 10 pm, are 42% higher than what is seen the day before. This could have a negative impact on those with certain health problems.

That smoke also contains dust, dirt and soot and can be dangerous for those with respiratory problems, heart disease, the elderly, small children and those with asthma. Dr. Pour recommends those with these health issues watch the fireworks upwind and stay away from backyard displays.

Earlier this week the air quality standard for parts of eastern Nebraska was lowered due to smoke drifting in from wildfires in Canada. Dr. Pour says those have decreased over the past few days and should not be a health risk problem.

Dress like a “nerd” to avoid tick bites & disease exposure

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Nebraskans are spending a lot of time outdoors now which may expose them to a tiny insect that could mean big trouble.

Epidemiologist Dr. Patty Quinlisk says ticks are very active during the summer months and carry several diseases — the most common is Lyme disease. Dr. Quinlisk says it’s fairly easy to prevent bites if you keep your skin covered in areas where ticks may be crawling.

“Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and tuck your pants into your socks. I know that’s going to look like a nerd, but it will stop those ticks from coming up underneath your pant leg,” Quinlisk explains. “Then, you need to wear insect repellent and the one that works against ticks is the one that contains DEET.” Even if you avoid wooded and tall grassy areas where ticks are most often found, she says that doesn’t ensure you’ll be safe from bites.

“Ticks can be found anywhere, so I’ll just tell you, I wear insect repellent containing DEET when I go out into my garden just to be sure,” Quinlisk says. “Certainly, the higher risk would be in areas where there is wildlife — where there is deer, small rodents, things like that.”

If you find a tick latched onto your body, Quinlisk says you should remove it right away to prevent exposure to a disease.

She says you don’t want to do anything that would cause a tick to regurgitate into you, because that could transmit the disease. You should get down as close to your body as you can with your fingernails or tweezers and pull the tick straight out.

Nebraska sees between five and ten Lyme disease cases per year and perhaps 20 cases of another tick-borne disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.


Supreme Court ruling keeps intact health subsidies for Nebraskans

The United States Supreme Court has upheld subsidies for federal health care exchanges, such as the system in Nebraska.

The court, in a 6-3 decision, rejected a claim that the subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act are limited to state exchanges.

James Goddard with Nebraska Appleseed applauds the ruling.

“It’s a huge victory for almost 57,000 Nebraskans,” Goddard tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “This insures they’ll continue to be able to access health insurance. So, it’s great news for them. It’s great news for our state.”

The decision in King v. Burwell affects 34 states with health exchanges run by the federal government, including Nebraska where 57,000 receive subsidies to offset the cost of health insurance.

Goddard says now the debate in Nebraska should shift to another issue.

“And the next step should really be to expand Medicaid in Nebraska and insure everyone is able to get health coverage, because we still have nearly 77,000 folks who are locked out of our health insurance systems,” Goddard says.

The U.S. Supreme Court in an earlier decision, ruled the federal government cannot force states to expand Medicaid under the federal health insurance law. Supporters of expanding Medicaid in Nebraska have been unable to overcome opposition in the Unicameral.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Summer camp for future nurses targets Panhandle high schoolers

Dr. Liane Connelly, UNMC

Dr. Liane Connelly, UNMC

A summer camp is planned next month in Scottsbluff for high school students who are considering the field of nursing.

Dr. Liane Connelly, assistant dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, says the two-day camp is free to qualifying Panhandle students.

“It provides an opportunity for us to reach out and recruit a diverse, disadvantaged applicant pool of potential nursing students, high schoolers, who are thinking about a career in nursing,” Dr. Connelly says.

The summer camp offers students a chance to learn about the profession up-close and see if nursing might fit with their own career goals.

“The activities they would be involved in would include a lot of hands-on activities,” Connelly says, “like learning how to do assessments, how to listen to heart sounds, how to do blood pressures, how to assess different health statuses of people, working with simulated mannequins.”

Many high school students haven’t figured out what they want to do for their careers but she says this summer camp will offer them a good look at an in-demand position in the health care industry.

A study from the Nebraska Center for Nursing finds 34% of the RNs in Nebraska are approaching retirement age, while nearly 2,700 new nursing positions will be created by 2020.

“The summer camp provides the opportunity for the high schooler to visit and get to know some of the UNMC nursing students,” Connelly says. “They get a sense from them what it’s like to be a student in the nursing program. They also have the chance to interact with registered nurses who can also share with them their experiences and what it’s like to work in the profession of nursing.”

The camp runs July 22nd and 23rd in Scottsbluff. For registration information, contact Bobbi Hartshorn at (308) 632-0410 or bhartsho@unmc.edu.