Entries in North Carolina (7)


NC Hospitals Warn Employees to Get a Flu Shot or Get Fired

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With officials at the Centers for Disease Control saying it’s gearing up to be a bad flu season, several North Carolina hospitals are taking no chances and requiring that all employees either get a flu shot or be fired.

This past summer, officials at First Health Moore Regional Hospital adopted a policy that requires all staff who routinely work in patient care areas to be vaccinated annually for influenza.

Officials at the care facilities say the forward-thinking policy was put in place because the common flu may have not-so-common effects on people facing more serious illnesses and whose immune systems are not strong enough to combat the virus.

First Health is just one of several North Carolina medical facilities taking the aggressive preventative approach.

“It’s definitely a national trend,” says Dr. B. Anthony Lindsey, chief medical officer for University of North Carolina Hospitals, where the policy is also in its pilot year.  “Influenza is an extremely contagious disease.  For some of our patients, it could have very serious consequences — including death.”

Most hospitals already require tuberculosis tests and hepatitis shots, but while the flu may be more common than those illnesses, its impact could be just as serious.

“Hospitals require personnel to get tested for tuberculosis so that they don’t spread that disease. The flu shot requirement is no different,” says ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser.

Cone Health Systems, a conglomerate of five North Carolina hospitals, was one of the first hospital groups to put the policy in place three years ago during the H1N1, or “bird flu,” outbreak.  Since that time, two people who work closely with patients have been fired for not taking the vaccine — showing hospitals are not taking chances on patients’ health.

“Our values at this hospital is that we care for our patients, we care for others and we care for our community,” says Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, the executive vice president and chief quality officer for Cone Health.  “It’s not unusual in many venues — in schools, and in many jobs — to have to require vaccinations. ”

There are exceptions, ranging from health to religious reasons, that hospitals take into account.  Employees who fall under those categories are not considered non-compliant.

The policies at these medical facilities come just as the Centers for Disease Control warns of a bad flu season.  CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Monday that instances of the flu had arrived a full month earlier than normal.

“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season,” Frieden said.

Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas have reported enough seasonal flu cases to officially mark the beginning of the flu season.

“We’re seeing the beginning of the uptick start at least a month before we’d generally see it,” Frieden said, explaining that flu rates typically start to rise in early January.

Only 37 percent of Americans eligible for the flu vaccine actually get vaccinated for the virus.

“This is a part of our hospital’s and other hospitals’ nationwide attempt to provide the safest possible care of the patients for whom we’re responsible,” Frieden said. “This is just another part of that effort.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Carolina Senate Denies Funds for Sterilization Victims

iStockphoto/ThinkStock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- The North Carolina Senate rejected a plan to compensate victims of a mass sterilization plan that targeted mostly poor minorities for decades in the 20th century.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans refused to support the measure put forth by the House to set aside $10 million in the state budget for compensation, which would have given victims $50,000 each. The move would have made North Carolina the first state to compensate eugenics victims.

"I'm sorry that it happened," Sen. Don East told the Raleigh-based News and Observer. "I just don't think money fixes it."

From 1929 to 1974, an estimated 7,600 people were sterilized by consent, coercion or without their knowledge as a part of the North Carolina Eugenics Board program, according to the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. The office estimates that up to 1,800 victims are still living, and 146 have been verified so far.

Charmaine Fuller Cooper, the executive director, told the News and Observer that the foundation would shut down by the end of the month because state funding is ending.

North Carolina ran one of the country's most active eugenics programs, targeting people who were poor and undereducated, and those with physical or mental disabilities. The North Carolina Eugenics Board, a five-person panel, made its decisions in the name of social welfare.

Elaine Riddick, 58, was one of the victims. Pregnant after she was raped at age 14, Riddick was sterilized without her knowledge when she went to a North Carolina hospital to give birth to her son in 1968. Years later, she learned what had happened to her.

Riddick's attorney, Willie Gary, said Riddick was "hurt" and "in tears" after hearing the state senate's decision Wednesday. Riddick has said she would file a class action lawsuit seeking compensation from the state.

"She's suffered for so long, and now this is just pouring salt on a wound that has been there for years and years and years," Gary told ABC News.

Riddick told her story to ABC News last year.

Deemed "promiscuous" and "feebleminded" by a social worker at the hospital, Riddick, who came from a black family on welfare, was recommended to the state for sterilization. Riddick's illiterate grandmother was told that they were doing a "procedure" that was necessary to help the young girl; she signed the consent papers with an X. The state authorized and paid for the procedure, and without her consent or even her knowledge, Riddick was sterilized shortly after she gave birth.

"They didn't have permission from me because I was too young, and my grandmother didn't understand what was going on," Riddick told "They said I was feebleminded, they said I would never be able to do anything for myself. I was a little bitty kid and they cut me open like a hog."

At one time or another in the 20th century, more than half of the states in the U.S. had programs that allowed for the sterilization of those the government deemed unfit to procreate.

When most programs began in the early 1930s, this usually meant those in institutions for mental illness or mental retardation, but over the decades criminals, the blind, the deaf, the disabled, alcoholics, those with epilepsy and ultimately the rural poor on welfare would fall under the umbrella of "unfit to procreate."

In all, 65,000 Americans were sterilized before the last state program was shut down in the early 1980s.

Though detailed, often meticulous records of these sterilizations survive in state archives; America's experience with selective sterilization has for the most part been a buried chapter in the nation's history.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NC to Compensate Sterilization Victims in 20th Century Eugenics Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- North Carolina will become the first state to compensate victims of a mass sterilization program that targeted poor minorities in a 20th century eugenics program, offering a $50,000 a person.

In a vote on Tuesday, the Eugenics Compensation Task Force recommended the lump-sum amount, putting a three-year statute of limitations on claiming those funds.

The task force also established a pool to fund mental health services for sterilization victims.

The state has located 72 such victims, according to Jill Lucas, communications director for the North Carolina Department of Administration.

A final report on Tuesday's recommendations will be given to Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue to consider.  She will pass along her recommendations to the Generally Assembly, which will make a final decision about compensation.

Some lawmakers had urged as much as $1 million for each victim.

"The state recognizes that a wrong has been done and while these actions can never be reversed, the governor has made it a priority to reach out and help identify and compensate victims for their experience," said Lucas.

The state sterilized more than 7,600 people in North Carolina from 1929 to 1974 -- one of many other states in misguided attempts to weed out criminals and the mentally disabled.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Babies Born Amid Hurricane Irene

BananaStock/Thinkstock(WILMINGTON, N.C.) – Some newborns have made quite the entrance into the world, arriving in the middle of a hurricane.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C. reported Saturday that 12 babies were delivered during Hurricane Irene’s fury.

Among the “hurricane babies,” the name “Irene” is being considered as a middle name.

Eight pregnant women were reported to be awaiting delivery, according to the hospital’s public affairs department.

The hospital typically delivers 4,000 newborns a year, but estimates that the recent 12 deliveries in that short time period is about 30 percent higher than usual.

The hospital is currently on lockdown so no visitors are allowed in.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Preparedness Tips and Resources

Ron Garan/NASA(WASHINGTON) -- Hurricane Irene is barreling down on the U.S., a monster storm packing winds of more than 100 miles per hour as it batters the Bahamas. In the next few days, the storm could hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina, or even the Mid-Atlantic and New England states. If you find yourself in Irene's path, experts say not to wait until the last minute. Now is the time to make preparations to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Here are some tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

  • Be aware of the latest weather forecast.
  • Make a plan for your family, business and property.
  • Get a disaster preparedness kit stocked with critical supplies, including important documents and medications.
  • Get flood insurance.

Read more of FEMA's advice for securing your family and valued possessions.

The National Weather Service suggests you have a plan for your beloved family pets, and determine safe areas inside your home, as well as escape routes if flooding turns dangerous.

Track the Storm:  Your smartphone could be your most valuable tool during or after a hurricane, with dozens of apps available to provide crucial information.

Here's a list of some of the available apps. Click on the links for download information.

  • Hurricane HD: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. $3.99 – Hurricane HD lets you track storms, with moving radar and satellite imagery from the National Hurricane center. It provides tropical bulletins, forecasts, and advisories for the Atlantic and Pacific Basins. You can watch video updates for storms currently underway or forming, and find data on major storms of the past, such as hurricanes Andrew, Hugo and Katrina.
  • The Weather Channel: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Android. Free – The Weather Channel has fully customizable weather maps, animated radar maps, detailed weather conditions and forecasts, severe weather alerts, and a notification bar with the current temperature and severe weather alert indicator. It allows you to get weather forecasts for your location or search by city, ZIP code, street address or landmark. The app also includes interactive maps that are fully customizable and feature the functionality of Google Maps. Customers can decide to display layers such as radar, clouds, UV index, rainfall and more.
  • Global Alert Network: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android BlackBerry. Free – The Global Alert Network delivers hands-free national traffic and weather alerts. See iTunes for Apple devices, or go to BlackBerry for a download. The Global Alert Network is a location-aware network platform that automatically broadcasts audible hands-free alerts to mobile devices. You choose to subscribe to weather or traffic alerts, which are geo-targeted to your location.

Other Resources
Click HERE for a list of useful storm preparedness resources and websites.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First US Postpartum Depression Clinic Opens in North Carolina

Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- The dread and sadness felt by some new mothers is usually diagnosed as postpartum depression.  It can not only paralyze a woman, but endanger the life of her newborn.

To that end, the University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill has opened the first U.S. free-standing perinatal psychiatry unit designed to care for women suffering from postpartum depression.

UNC's Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program offers those diagnosed with the condition both individual and family therapy sessions since fathers can also be prone to depression with the arrival of a new child.

Mothers who are hospitalized can continue breastfeeding and pumping milk and visit their infants so as to establish a routine that can be used once they are released from care.

While the program at UNC is brand new, it has already gotten a huge response from other medical personnel across the country who are asking how they too can start specialized clinics to treat mothers with postpartum depression.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Possible Exposure to Hepatitis A Reported at North Carolina Olive Garden

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- Public health officials Monday warned of the possible transmission of hepatitis A at a Fayetteville, N.C., Olive Garden.

Patrons and employees who were at the restaurant on July 25, 26, 28, 29 and 31 and Aug. 1, 2 and 8 have been been exposed to the virus from an Olive Garden employee, according to Raleigh ABC-TV affiliate WTVD.

Buck Wilson, director at the Cumberland County Public Health Department, advised that all "persons working or visiting the restaurant on these dates receive an injection of Hepatitis A immune globulin or vaccine immediately."

The health department is offering the hepatitis A vaccine to individuals exposed to the virus.  Officials say an injection must be administered immediately as infection can be prevented within 14 days of exposure.

WTVD reports that individuals may have also been exposed before July 25, and the vaccine is no longer effective in these cases.  However, these individuals should be aware of early hepatitis A symptoms such as mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, dark urine, pain in the upper right abdomen, light color stools and jaundice.  Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician.

Hepatitis A is often spread through the ingestion of fecal matter from objects, food or beverages contaminated by an infected person.  Careful, frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

Questions and concerns regarding hepatitis A cases at the Fayetteville Olive Garden should be directed to the Cumberland County Health Department at 910-433-3638.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio