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Firefighters and veteran’s charity team up for better mental health

First responders in Langford, B.C. will now have access to extended mental health support programs thanks to a new partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada.

The organization, a national mental health charity that provides programs for first responders, veterans and their families, has partnered with the Langford Fire Rescue and will now share those services with the more than 60 Langford volunteer and career firefighters.

Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey told CBC On The Island guest host Khalil Akhtar the new programs include couples counselling and operational stress programs to help build up mental resiliency for young firefighters just starting on the job.

“This is another mechanism for us to be able to protect them mentally and emotionally through the different incidents they attend,” said Aubrey.

Unique programs

According to Aubrey, Langford Fire Rescue members already had access to peer support and family assistance programs, but the unique programs Wounded Warriors Canada offers will be a huge new advantage for them. 

Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada, said in a statement the organization is looking forward to working with their new partner.

“This partnership recognizes that no single organization can do it all when it comes to mental health support,” said Maxwell.

Aubrey said a relationship began between his crews and Wounded Warrior a few years ago when the charity enlisted the help of Langford Fire Rescue crews to help escort runners during a fundraising race.

Langford Fire Rescue will continue to support Wounded Warrior events and fundraising efforts by providing man power and spreading awareness as their part of the partnership deal.

‘My hope is that other departments across the country sign on with Wounded Warriors to signify that whether you’re military or a first responder there is help for you,” said Aubrey.

To hear the complete interview with Chief Aubrey click on the link below:

With files from On The Island 

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5 ways Trump is changing health care

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Updated 8:14 AM ET, Sat January 19, 2019

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(CNN)President Donald Trump hasn’t fulfilled his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare outright, but he’s fundamentally reshaped the debate over health care in America in myriad ways during his two years in office.

Democratizing artificial intelligence in health care

An artificial intelligence program that’s better than human doctors at recommending treatment for sepsis may soon enter clinical trials in London. The machine learning model is part of a new way of practicing medicine that mines electronic medical-record data for more effective ways of diagnosing and treating difficult medical problems, including sepsis, a blood infection that kills an estimated 6 million people worldwide each year. 

The discovery of a promising treatment strategy for sepsis didn’t come about the regular way, through lengthy, carefully-controlled experiments. Instead, it emerged during a free-wheeling hackathon in London in 2015. 

In a competition bringing together engineers and health care professionals, one team hit on a better way to treat sepsis patients in the intensive-care unit, using MIT’s open-access MIMIC database. One team member, Matthieu Komorowski, would go on to work with the MIT researchers who oversee MIMIC to develop a reinforcement learning model that predicted higher survival rates for patients given lower doses of IV fluids and higher doses of blood vessel-constricting drugs. The researchers published their findings this fall in Nature Medicine

The paper is part of a stream of research to come out of the “datathons” pioneered by Leo Celi, a researcher at MIT and staff physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Celi held the first datathon in January 2014 to spark collaboration among Boston-area nurses, doctors, pharmacists and data scientists. Five years later a datathon now happens once a month somewhere in the world. 

Following months of preparation, participants gather at a sponsoring hospital or university for the weekend tocomb through MIMIC or a local database in search of better ways to diagnose and treat critical care patients. Many go on to publish their work, and in a new milestone for the program, the authors of the reinforcement learning paper are now preparing their sepsis-treatment model for clinical trials at two hospitals affiliated with Imperial College London.

As a young doctor, Celi was troubled by the wide variation he saw in patient care. The optimal treatment for the average patient often seemed ill-suited for the patients he encountered. By the 2000s, Celi could see how powerful new tools for analyzing electronic medical-record data could personalize care for patients. He left his job as a doctor to study for a dual master’s in public health and biomedical informatics at Harvard University and MIT respectively. 

Joining MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science after graduation, he identified two main barriers to a data revolution in health care: medical professionals and engineers rarely interacted, and most hospitals, worried about liability, wanted to keep their patient data — everything from lab tests to doctors’ notes — out of reach. 

Celi thought a hackathon-style challenge could break down those barriers. The doctors would brainstorm questions and answer them with the help of the data scientists and the MIMIC database. In the process, their work would demonstrate to hospital administrators the value of their untapped archives. Eventually, Celi hoped that hospitals in developing countries would be inspired to create their own databases, too. Researchers unable to afford clinical trials could understand their own patient populations and treat them better, democratizing the creation and validation of new knowledge.

“Research doesn’t have to be expensive clinical trials,” he says. “A database of patient health records contains the results of millions of mini experiments involving your patients. Suddenly you have several lab notebooks you can analyze and learn from.”

So far, a number of sponsoring hospitals — in London, Madrid, Tarragona, Paris, Sao Paulo, and Beijing — have embarked on plans to build their own version of MIMIC, which took MIT’s Roger Mark and Beth Israel seven years to develop. Today the process is much quicker thanks to tools the MIMIC team has developed and shared with others to standardize and de-identify their patient data. 

Celi and his team stay in touch with their foreign collaborators long after the datathons by hosting researchers at MIT, and reconnecting with them at datathons around the globe. “We’re creating regional networks — in Europe, Asia and South America — so they can help each other,” says Celi. “It’s a way of scaling and sustaining the project.”

Humanitas Research Hospital, Italy’s largest, is hosting the next one — the Milan Critical Care Datathon Feb. 1-3 — and Giovanni Angelotti and Pierandrea Morandini, recent exchange students to MIT, are helping to put it on. “Most of the time clinicians and engineers speak different languages, but these events promote interaction and build trust,” Morandini says. “It’s not like at a conference where someone is talking and you take notes. You have to build a project and carry to it to the end. There are no experiences like this in the field.”

The pace of the events has picked up with tools like Jupyter Notebook, Google Colab, and GitHub letting teams dive into the data instantly and collaborate for months after, shortening the time to publication. Celi and his team now teach a semester-long course at MIT, HST.953 (Collaborative Data Science in Medicine), modeled after the datathons, creating a second pipeline for this kind of research.

Beyond standardizing patient care and making AI in health care accessible to all, Celi and his colleagues see another benefit of the datathons: their built-in peer-review process could prevent more flawed research from being published. They outlined their case in a 2016 piece in Science Translational Medicine.  

“We tend to celebrate the story that gets told — not the code or the data,” says study co-author Tom Pollard, an MIT researcher who is part of the MIMIC team. “But it’s the code and data that are essential for evaluating whether the story is true, and the research legitimate.” 

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Many Oncologists in the Dark About LGBTQ Health Needs

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Wendy Williams to take health-related break from TV show

LOS ANGELES — Wendy Williams is taking an extended break from her TV talk show to deal with health issues related to her immune system disorder, her family said Friday.

The family wrote in a statement that Williams has suffered complications from Graves’ disease in the past few days.

Treatment is necessary and will include “significant time” in the hospital, according to the family statement provided by show producer and distributor Debmar-Mercury.

Williams has a strong desire to return to work but must focus on her “personal and physical well-being,” the family said, adding a request that her privacy be respected.

Williams, 54, is married to Kevin Hunter.

She is on the mend from another health problem, a shoulder fracture she suffered in December, the statement said.

The host revealed the Graves’ disease diagnosis on her show last February, when she announced a three-week hiatus.

Graves’ disease leads to the overproduction of thyroid hormones and can cause wide-ranging symptoms and affect overall health.

In October 2017, Williams fainted on stage during her show, saying later she became overheated while wearing a bulky Halloween costume.

Debmar-Mercury said that it “wholeheartedly” supports Williams’ decision to take the time she needs. She will be welcomed back when she is ready, the company said.

Repeats of “The Wendy Williams Show” will air during the week of Jan. 21, to be followed by original episodes with guest hosts.

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

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Here are the health hazards associated with paper receipts

Thursday, January 17, 2019, 2:11 PM - A new bill in California hopes to phase out  paper receipts due to their environmental impact as well as the little-known health concerns associated with them.

In addition to being non-recyclable, most receipts are coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS).

BPA, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and resins, can be found in several products, including those that are used for human consumption — but several manufacturers have cut back or limited its use following studies that link chemical exposure to adverse health affects.

The link between rising oceans and breast cancer)

“Our bodies can absorb some of these chemicals simply by touching the receipt,” reads a statement
on the bill’s website.

“BPA and BPS are known endocrine disruptors and can cause developmental and neurological problems. These additives also mean paper receipts cannot be recycled.”


Assemblymember Phil Ting introduced the bill earlier this month and
set up a petitionto garner support.

Six flu deaths among kids reported in Canada)

If the bill is passed into law, California would become the first state in the US to mandate the use of e-receipts.

“Most of us don’t need a physical receipt for every transaction. It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of one million cars on the road, to make something we don’t often need,” Ting said in a press release.


According to Ting’s website, paper receipts are responsible for:

  • 686 million pounds of waste annually in the U.S. alone
  • Harvesting of 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water in the U.S. annually
  • 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions per year


Demand for chocolate contributes to deforestation

E-waste cure? Doctors use old iPhones for brain surgery

Thousands join the ‘war on glitter’

Massive oyster ‘size of a shoe’ washes ashore: Must see

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Could bone broth boost heart health?

Recently, bone broth has enjoyed a boost in popularity. To add to its new-found fame, a recent study concludes that it could have benefits for heart health, too.

Bone broth may be fashionable, but is it good for your heart?

Bone broth is a soup containing brewed bones and connective tissue.

Slowly cooking the bones in vinegar releases some of the nutrients that a person might otherwise discard with the rest of the carcass.

According to some quarters, drinking bone broth carries a multitude of benefits.

From reducing inflammation to improving sleep, bone broth can seemingly do no wrong.

Although some are hailing bone broths as “the new coffee,” there is little evidence to support its benefits.

It is true that bone broth delivers nutrients, including amino acids and minerals, but not in any higher quantities than might be found in many other foods.

Bone broth contains collagen, leading some supporters to claim that bone broth improves skin health and joint function. However, collagen that we consume never reaches the skin or joints because it is broken down into amino acids by the digestive system.

The authors of the most recent study into bone broth published their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. They focused on the amino acids and peptides that the bone and connective tissue produce as they break down.

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Bone broth and cardiovascular health

In particular, the researchers were interested in how cooked bones might release proteins which, during digestion, are broken down further into smaller chains of amino acids, referred to as peptides.

Once broken down in this way, peptides can have very different properties from the original proteins.

The scientists, led by Leticia Mora, wanted to understand whether Spanish dry-cured ham bones could be a source of heart-beneficial peptides. To investigate, they simulated both cooking and human digestion.

Once they had the final product, they tested the resulting peptides to see if they might block particular enzymes known to be involved in heart disease.

The enzymes of interest included angiotensin 1-converting enzyme (ACE-1), endothelin-converting enzyme, dipeptidyl peptidase-4, and platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase.

All of the enzymes above regulate aspects of the cardiovascular system. ACE-1 inhibitors, for instance, are used to treat high blood pressure and inflammation-based heart disease. If scientists could source these peptides from foods, this might be beneficial for people who have an elevated risk of developing these conditions.

According to the authors, “their inhibition can result in the reduction of high blood pressure and alleviation of disorders, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and inflammatory diseases.”

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Potential heart benefits

The scientists found that peptides — predominantly derived from hemoglobin and collagen — could block the enzymes related to heart disease, even after cooking and digestion.

Additionally, they measured the presence of other peptides; many of these were chains of just two or three amino acids, making them more likely to be able to travel through the intestinal wall and be active in the body. The authors conclude:

These results suggest that dry-cured ham bones [used in] stews and broths could have a positive impact on cardiovascular health and a possible reduction of high blood pressure for consumers.”

However, as the authors note, measuring these peptides under artificial conditions is not the same as assessing their impact on living organisms. Scientists will need to do much more work before they can confirm the heart benefits of bone broth.

Understanding the chemistry of foods is only one small step toward realizing their impact on health. These findings might further boost bone broth’s popularity, but the trend will probably be over before conclusive evidence rolls in.

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Ford government poised to dissolve regional health agencies, sources say

In what would be its first major move to restructure Ontario’s health system, the Doug Ford government is considering a sharp cut to the bureaucracies that are supposed to co-ordinate health-care services at the local level.

CBC News has learned that the Progressive-Conservatives are taking aim at the province’s 14 local health integration networks (LHINs).

According to multiple sources connected to government and the health-care sector, the provincial government is looking at dissolving the LHINs and replacing them with no more than five regional oversight bodies that would monitor spending by hospitals and long-term care homes. 

The LHINs oversee nearly $30 billion in annual operating funding that is funnelled from the health ministry to hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centres. They are also the first point of contact for patients who want to get publicly funded home care or a spot in a provincial nursing home. 

They were created in 2007 by then-premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government. Their mandate was to improve the integration of local health-care services. 

“By any objective measure, that has failed to occur,” a senior official in the health sector said Wednesday.

Dissolving the LHINs “really makes sense,” the official said. “They have gummed up the wheels terribly,” by micro-managing health-care providers. 

Premier Doug Ford, centre, Health Minister Christine Elliott, right, and Dr. Rueben Devlin, left, chair of the Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

“It is a bureaucracy that has failed at what it was set up to do,” said another source close to the government. “It has slowed down care for patients.”

The source said the LHINs are a “very expensive oversight body” that add another layer of administration between health-care providers and patients but do not make the system work more effectively. 

“Have they made it easier for anybody to navigate care? No,” the source said.

It costs about $90 million a year to operate the LHINs, according to a recent auditor general report.

The sources could not estimate how much the government would save by collapsing them. However, some of them said the potential for making the system function better for patients would outweigh the cost savings.

The LHIN changes are expected to be just one step in a major overhaul of health-care administration. More reforms will come from recommendations by the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine, chaired by Rueben Devlin, the longtime CEO of Humber River Hospital. 

Five independent sources told CBC News the LHINs will be reformed. Two said the government plans to eliminate the LHINs altogether, while the others said they would be replaced by five regional oversight bodies. 

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott neither confirmed nor denied the reports, but instead said the government was committed to “transformation.”

“Our government believes that everyone in Ontario deserves to have access to the services they need at home, in the community or at a hospital,” wrote Hayley Chazan. “That’s why we’re working with partners in health care to develop our long-term transformational health-care strategy.”

Multiple sources tell CBC News the Ford government is looking at dissolving the LHINs and replacing them with no more than five regional oversight bodies that would monitor spending by hospitals and long-term care homes. (CBC)

This year, $28.5 billion flows from the health ministry through the LHINs to local hospitals, long-term care homes and other institutional health providers. The LHINs are responsible for monitoring how that money is spent. Contracts called “accountability agreements” lay out the services the hospitals and long-term care homes must provide in exchange for the funding. 

In her 2015 annual report, the province’s auditor general found that none of the LHINs had ever met all 15 of the health ministry’s performance targets, such as wait times for surgery, MRI scans and emergency room visits.

“There are some things they have done that have gone well in certain areas; there are some things that they’ve done that haven’t gone that well,” said Dr. Nadia Alam, president of Ontario Medical Association on Metro Morning.

Alam explained that the level of care offered to patients varies greatly based on where a person lives, a reality she largely puts at the feet of the LHINs.

“This unfairness in the level of service is what’s really frustrating about the LHINs,” she said.

The Ontario Health Coalition, which advocates for public health care, said it was “extremely concerned” by the prospect of replacing the LHINs in favour of five new oversight bodies.

The organization’s exeutive director Natalie Mehra said the move “will be devastating to local hospital services and other local health-care services.”

The LHINs became the administrative body for home care in 2017 when the Wynne government shut down the province’s community care access centres (CCACs) in the wake of another critical auditor general’s report.

The umbrella group representing hospitals urged the government on Tuesday to cut out the LHINs from home care administration. 

“We think one of the areas that has the most promise in terms of reform and improving the way the health system operates is in overhauling Ontario’s broken home-care system,” said Anthony Dale, CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, in a pre-budget submission to a legislative committee at Queen’s Park.

“We think it’s now time to allow hospitals and home-care providers to work directly together without a third-party intermediary,” Dale said. 

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Barrie Police partner for mental health

Barrie Police can now call in a mental health expert when responding to situations where a mental health issue is suspected.

A specially trained officer or a Canadian Mental Health Association worker will attend wearing plain clothing in an unmarked vehicle as part of a new initiative called Community Outreach and Support Team, or C.O.A.S.T.

“This can help remove the stigma,” says South Simcoe Police Const. Matt Tomlin.  “This can help remove the criminalization of someone who is in crisis.”

South Simcoe Police began using C.O.A.S.T in 2017 and say the number of people who had to be taken to the hospital decreased.

“Because of the awareness that we can connect these people right away to resources that are more appropriate to their individual needs,” explains Tomlin.

Barrie Police tested pilot versions and saw the number of hospital trips drop by nearly half.

“It’s not only about CMHA or Barrie police services, but it is also about the community,” says Himanshu Shah, Canadian Mental Health Association.  “To offer the crisis services at their doorstep rather than going to the hospital.”

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Reports: Paris Jackson enters mental health treatment facility

  • By:
    Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated: Jan 16, 2019 – 12:48 PM

Paris Jackson has entered a treatment facility for her emotional health, Entertainment Tonight reported.

The only daughter of the late Michael Jackson is living at a mental health facility.

Read more trending news 

“After a busy year of work engagements that took her all over the globe, Paris decided that she needed to take some time off to reboot, realign and prioritize her physical and emotional health,” an unnamed source told People. “She checked herself into a treatment facility to aid in her wellness plan and is looking forward to coming out of this revitalized and ready to tackle the exciting new projects that await her.”

The same quote from an unnamed source was given to Entertainment Tonight and E! News.

Jackson, 20, has been open about her mental health in the past. In 2017, she revealed in a Rolling Stone interview that she struggled with depression and anxiety and attempted suicide more than once.

“I was crazy. I was actually crazy,” she said. “I was going through a lot of, like teen, angst; and I was also dealing with my depression and my anxiety without any help.”

Neither Jackson nor her representative have commented on the reports.

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