Health

U.S. Pacific Fleet

A southern Idaho man is the first person to die in the state from the flu this season.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports the man was over the age of 50 and died from an influenza-related illness. He’s the first person in Idaho to die in the 2016-2017 season.

Last flu season, 26 people died from the flu in Idaho. The average number of deaths in a year in the Gem State is 23. In the 2012-2013 season, 35 people died.

telephone, buttons, hotline
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is expanding its services by adding an additional phone line for people to call in crisis.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the new phone number will also accept text messages Mondays through Fridays, between 3 p.m. and midnight. Organizers announced the additional services on Monday.

pills, drugs
DestinysAgent / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho health officials plan to ask lawmakers for about $11 million annually to provide mental health and drug abuse services to the state's parole offenders who are at the highest risk of returning to prison.

Tom Shanahan, a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, says the state is currently spending around $30,000 annually to serve the estimated 7,300 offenders identified with high mental health needs.

The department will make the request during the 2017 legislative session.

Federal officials say approximately 15,000 Idahoans may be eligible for tax credits if they purchase insurance through the state's health care exchange rather than skip the marketplace again while picking 2017 coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that only residents who bought their 2017 plans on the Your Health Idaho website are qualified for a tax subsidy.

Health officials say the tax credits were designed to make coverage more affordable and protect consumers from the impact of rate increases.

A Nampa nursing home is under fire after a state investigation found residents were being mistreated.

The Idaho Statesman reports that an Idaho Health and Welfare Department report cited Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center for widespread problems that investigators say threatening the health and safety of residents and failed to protect them from abuse and negligence.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As KBSX reported Wednesday, the biggest health risk associated with high levels of nitrates in drinking water is a condition called methemoglobinemia, which can make infants six months and younger sick. Babies who drink formula using nitrate-contaminated water are at risk of developing the condition.

Screenshot from video by Jason Urry / St. Lukes

Last month we told you the story of a Twin Falls doctor, who was once paralyzed, but was able to climb Idaho's tallest mountain. Now you can watch a video of his inspiring climb.

Jonathon Myers broke his neck ten years ago in a car accident. Paralyzed from the neck down, he fought back and learned how to walk again. He went to medical school and specialized in rehabilitation.

Idaho is working to reduce suicides in the state with a new $1 million program.

The Spokesman-Review reports that lawmakers this year allocated ongoing funding and changed the law that governs the mission of the state Department of Health and Welfare to specifically include suicide prevention.

To celebrate the ongoing efforts, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter on Thursday declared this week Suicide Prevention Week in the city.

Leaflet / Wikimedia Commons

A hospital trying to raise money for a high-tech piece of equipment to help its patients might be newsworthy. Someone who was once paralyzed and is now climbing Idaho’s tallest mountain certainly would be. Now a Twin Falls doctor who thought he’d never walk again is climbing Borah Peak Wednesday in order to raise money for a machine to help his patients learn to walk again.

Jennifer Dunaway / Flickr Creative Commons

Health officials say they have discovered E. coli bacteria in several private wells south of Nampa.

Southwest District Health says six out of 11 households tested positive for the bacteria. There have been no reports of illness connected to the outbreak.

The agency is working the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to determine the source of the contamination.

Residents within 1,000 feet of the contaminated wells have been notified of health risks.

Health officials are advising private well users to get their water tested.

Airman Magazine / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho state health officials say an Idaho woman who recently traveled to Mexico has been infected with the Zika virus.

The virus is carried by two types of mosquitoes which don't live in Idaho but are found in hotter climates. In a statement issued Wednesday, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials said there is no danger to the general public of developing Zika through casual contact.

According to the press release the infected woman is from northern Idaho and over the age of 60. She had symptoms but did not require hospitalization.

insurance exchange, computer, your health idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Officials with Your Health Idaho say they are actively working to ensure that customers don't see another delay in receiving a critical tax form needed to prove health coverage and avoid a tax penalty.

The state's health insurance exchange failed this year to distribute the forms by the required Jan. 31 deadline. The exchange also issued thousands of corrections because of inaccurate information on the forms.

While all customers eventually received their correct forms before April 15, officials have raised concerns about the same challenges occurring next year.

Blue Cross of Idaho Ad
Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

If you buy your own health insurance rather than getting it from an employer, you’ll probably pay more for it next year, maybe a lot more. Health insurance carriers have told the Idaho Department of Insurance what changes they want to make to plans next year and the department has posted those proposed changes on its website. Six insurers want to make substantial rate increases that average 27 percent.

Central District Health Department

A second cat in Elmore County has likely died of plague. This cat lived outside the plague area boundary drawn by health officials.

This is the second cat death in a week. The Central District Health Department reports this cat lived two miles from Mountain Home and lived both indoors and outdoors. It had contact with ground squirrels before it died. Members of both families, along with the rest of their pets, are being monitored to make sure the cats did not spread the plague.

Final lab results on the animals will come in next week.

A new state-sponsored substance abuse recovery center is expected to open next month in eastern Idaho.

The Post Register reports that the Center for Hope in Idaho Falls is expected to open in mid-July. It's the eighth such facility created in Idaho.

The effort to open the center began two years ago when the Idaho Association of Counties asked lawmakers to fund the facilities across the state. Along with the Center for Hope, recovery centers have been funded in Bannock, Kootenai and Nez Perce counties this year.

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