Michigan Healthcare

Credit Alex E Promios/Flickr

From debate over childhood vaccinations to the changing business of hospital finance, IPR has the stories of hospitals and public health that affect northern Michigan.

There are now 121 cases of measles in the U.S., with one confirmed case in Michigan. That’s according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control. Of those cases, 85% are linked to an outbreak at Disneyland.

Interlochen Center for the Arts

When artists listen to the heart, they’re usually looking for emotion or inspiration. No stethoscope necessary – certainly not an echo machine. Until now.

Students at the Interlochen Arts Academy have been jammin’ along to the beats of their own hearts, thanks to some pretty sophisticated medical equipment. Next week they’re putting on a show that blends the traditional artist’s notion of heartache with a very physical representation of their healthy, and normal, teenage hearts.

  Find the webcast link and other show information here.

Hitting the stage



This week marks the 117 year anniversary of the first radiation treatment for cancer. Emil Grubbe is credited for his work on the case when he was still in medical school.

University of Michigan physician and medical historian Dr. Howard Markel says Grubbe was still a student when he discovered that huge doses of radiation may be able to kill cells. This discovery came after he severely burned his hand by using an early x-ray on it multiple times over a short duration. The technology had only been invented a few months prior and little was known about the consequences of the high doses of radiation involved.

The measles outbreak has made it to Michigan.

After the mounting headlines about an outbreak that seems to have begun in California’s Disneyland, the first Michigan case was diagnosed late last week.

The diagnosed individual is an adult in Oakland country and according to Dr. Matthew Davis, the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health and a Professor at the University of Michigan, this case may well be connected to the Disneyland outbreak.

LIVE COVERAGE of the speech and the Democratic response begins tonight at 7:00 on IPR News Radio.

Gov. Rick Snyder will announce during his State of the State address tonight that two of the state’s largest departments will merge. Snyder will issue an executive order combining the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Community Health (DCH).

The move was first reported by the Associated Press.

Public employee unions worry the reorganization could lead to outsourcing.

It seems like everyone is talking about the flu.

Dr. Matthew Davis is chief medical executive for the state Department of Community Health, and a professor at the University of Michigan.

Popular buzz has pegged this as a pretty miserable flu season. We ask whether the statistics back this up.

Listen to our conversation above.

Vaccination waivers now tougher to get in Michigan

Jan 5, 2015

A new Michigan law for 2015 will force some parents seeking vaccination waivers for their kids to speak to a health professional first. 

The new law took effect Jan. 1st. It targets parents asking for “philosophical” waivers. Michigan has a seven-percent waiver rate – that’s fourth highest in the country.

Jennifer Smith with the Michigan Department of Community Health said the law was adapted from one already making a difference in ten counties.

Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center

Veterans in northern Michigan often have to drive a long way to see their doctors. That’s because official VA hospitals are mostly downstate, like the one in Saginaw.

Congress passed legislation over the summer that was meant to change that temporarily. It pays for more local, private care options for those enrolled in health plans through the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

But in Michigan, most veterans don’t qualify under the rules.

Criminal charges have been filed in federal court in Massachusetts, following an outbreak of fungal meningitis that hit Michigan in 2012.

Most people charged worked at New England Compounding Center, a shuttered pharmacy in Boston that sold steroid shots that infected people nationwide.

The tainted shots were sent to a few clinics in Michigan, including one in Traverse City.

Aaron Selbig

The Grand Traverse County Health Department wants another nurse to help fight outbreaks of measles and pertussis.

The health department has been stretched thin since the pertussis outbreak began six weeks ago. Workers have put in more than 1,000 hours of overtime and many worked through Thanksgiving.

Health Officer Wendy Trute says her team has been busy re-tracing the steps of people who have come down with pertussis and measles.

Grand Traverse County could be facing an outbreak of measles following a pair of confirmed cases of the disease. 

Two siblings, ages 19 and 20, apparently contracted the disease while on a recent trip to the Philippines. That country has had a serious measles outbreak over the last year, with more than 50,000 reported cases and more than 100 deaths.

The two siblings had not been vaccinated against measles.

Whooping cough outbreak sparks vaccination debate

Dec 3, 2014
Peter Payette

A growing outbreak of pertussis – or whooping cough – has Grand Traverse County residents on edge. As the number of confirmed cases ticks upward every few days, some parents are pulling their children out of school.

The outbreak has renewed questions about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Are they putting vulnerable people at risk? Or exercising their right to keep their kids free of vaccines they see as unnecessary?

A difficult decision

Whooping cough spreads

Nov 21, 2014

Whooping cough has now spread to Kingsley public schools, while Grand Traverse County has confirmed 34 cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear yet another challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

The case, King v. Burwell, argues that because of the wording in a clause of the ACA, people who get insurance through a federal exchange and not a state-run exchange should not be entitled to tax credit subsidies.

As the Obamacare battle continues, Dr. Howard Markel, physician and medical historian from the University of Michigan, thinks it might be helpful to look back -- 69 years back, to this exact day, November 19, in 1945. That’s when President Harry Truman spelled out a ground-breaking idea: a “universal” national health care program. 

David Cassleman

The Ebola virus poses little risk to northern Michigan, according to health experts who spoke at a panel event in Traverse City on Monday night.

But local hospitals and health departments are preparing themselves to handle Ebola patients anyway – in case the unlikely happens.

Anti-fluoride activists set sights on Traverse City

Nov 10, 2014

Traverse City could be the next Michigan town to put the issue of water fluoridation on the ballot. Fluoridation opponents are vowing to take their fight to Traverse City even after an unsuccessful effort in Boyne City.

Voters in Boyne City elected to put fluoride back into their water supply last week.

Ben Hansen said his group – Fluoride Free in TC – still wants to put the issue before Traverse City voters next year.

NPR sent reporter – and Traverse City native – Anders Kelto to Sierra Leone to cover the Ebola crisis in September.

He spent two weeks there, reporting during an especially dire moment of the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic.

Kelto will be in Traverse City next week to discuss his reporting experience at an event on Monday, November 10, at the Hagerty Center.

IPR's David Cassleman recently spoke to the NPR correspondent about his experience reporting from the front lines of the epidemic.

Linda Stephan

Leaders at Munson Healthcare say they have a final agreement to buy two more hospitals. Mercy Cadillac and Mercy Grayling are currently owned by a major Catholic health system based in Southeast Michigan, CHE Trinity Health.



The deal is expected to be final February 1st. For now leaders are keeping quiet about the purchase price and other financial details. The sale still needs approvals from the government and the Catholic Church.

A new report says Michigan lacks enough autism specialists to handle the number of children being diagnosed and treated with the disorder.

The Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) says that means long wait times before many children and their families can get help.

“We actually talked to all of the treatment programs to get a sense of the average waiting time for appointments, and it was anywhere from a month to, in some cases, two years, depending on the particular program,” said CHRT Director Marianne Udow-Phillips.

Michigan Public Radio Network


  You can also watch a video of the program here.

  The Republican and Democratic candidates for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat both say they would consider banning travel to and from countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks.

The first case of Ebola in the U.S. was recently confirmed by health officials in Texas. The man had come into contact with the virus in Liberia before traveling to the U.S.

A group of workers with disabilities will get to keep their jobs in Traverse City – for now. Grand Traverse Industries plans to pay the salaries of up to 20 workers out of their own pocket – instead of laying them off.

Funding for those workers used to come from the state – but was eliminated during the expansion of Medicaid.


Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

We're all hearing about concern over a rare respiratory virus that is affecting kids in the Midwest.

So far the virus has been detected in Illinois and Missouri. Medical professionals in several other states, including Michigan, are now testing patients for the virus.

Democrats in the Legislature say women should get 90 days advance warning if their employers are about to drop contraception coverage from company-provided insurance policies.

The legislation is a response to the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The court said business owners don’t have to cover contraception if they have a sincere moral objection.

State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) says women deserve time to make other arrangements if that’s the case. She says birth control drugs have more medical uses than just stopping pregnancies.