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heart failure

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Fast food and food stamps, cutbacks in worker safety programs, Jerry's Kids loses Jerry and more from our Daily Briefing.

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Sometimes, the simplest tools in medicine are the ones that give us the most useful information. Take the humble blood pressure machine, for example. It's been around for years, and it's cheap, compared with a lot of other medical devices. It's simple to use, and it doesn't require a medical or a nursing degree to operate. But the numbers it reports are valuable in helping predict a person's risk of a host of medical problems, including heart failure, stroke and kidney failure, and can help doctors determine whether a person really needs to take medicine to control his or her high blood pressure.

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This story is Part 12 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Ind.

John Grimm knows the city of Gary faces severe financial problems and didn’t expect city crews to plow all of its streets overnight after the recent blizzard.

But Grimm, the executive director of the South Shore Health & Rehabilitation Center in Gary, said during and after the storm city leaders failed to protect some of Gary’s most vulnerable residents when its crews neglected to plow the alleys and streets surrounding the nursing home.

Grimm said for an entire week the streets around the long-term care facility were not plowed, which he said “put the lives of many residents in jeopardy, as ambulances and emergency medical services and other medical providers were not able to access the facility.”

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This story is Part 6 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Indiana.

In the next three years Methodist Hospitals Northlake in Gary faces perhaps the greatest challenge of its 101-year history.

Health care reform is expected to reduce the rolls of uninsured Gary patients and expand health care access to thousands. But by 2014 the city’s only acute care hospital must figure out how to replace millions of dollars in government funding scheduled to disappear.

 

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Consumers Union is offering a great opportunity for people focused on health care and health journalism to make their voices heard.

From now until next Friday, Feb. 25, Consumer Union’s Safe Patient Project will be gathering opinions from people about Medicare’s new Physician Compare site to submit as part of Medicare’s open comment period on the site.

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Journalist Mark Taylor examines how one Gary, Indiana emergency room continues to serve some of the sickest and neediest patients in the region, handling more gunshot, knife wound and violent trauma cases than other area ERs, alongside the chronically ill.

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Medicare’s new consumer information site, Physician Compare, promises the same gold mine of data patients find when they use Hospital Compare or Nursing Home Compare. But, unlike those sites, Physician Compare does not keep its promises.

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But the only way doctors and patients and their families will get a really accurate handle on prognosis with current therapies is if a huge prospective study is undertaken or at least a national registry that includes tens of thousands of patients seen at many academic centers and those seen in the community by both cardiologists and general practitioners.

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Many years ago I was a kid on a wilderness canoe trip, on a beautiful isolated lake in northern Ontario. We stopped for lunch in the early afternoon and stripped down to wash up in the cold water.

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