Review Category : Health

Santa Barbara Rampage Highlights Therapists’ ‘Duty to Protect’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — The chilling manifesto that police say Elliot Rodger sent to his therapist before killing six people and then himself has highlighted the “duty to protect,” part of a California law that requires psychotherapists to warn police about violent threats.

Rodger, a 22-year-old college student, emailed his therapist a link to the 137-page manifesto before the deadly rampage, close family friend Simon Astaire told ABC News. The therapist then called Rodger’s mother, Chin Rodger, at 9:17 p.m. PT on Friday.

“Have you gotten Elliot’s email?” the therapist said, according to Astaire. “I think you should see it.”

But it was too late. Minutes later, Rodger opened fire outside a Santa Barbara, California, sorority house, according to police.

Under California law, psychotherapists have a “duty to protect” and are required to report “a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim” to local law enforcement within 24 hours. The law, which used to require therapists to “immediately report” the identity of a threatening patient, was amended in October 2013 to better define the timeline to one full day.

“‘Immediately’ is undefined, and changing the standard to ’24 hours’ will add certainty and consistency to the reporting,” the bill to amend the law read.

Calls to the office of state Sen. Ted Gaines, who introduced the bill, and Tom Ammanio, chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, were not immediately returned today.

The law aims to balance public safety with a patient’s right to privacy — a delicate line that has been the subject of scrutiny in light of a slew of mass shootings. Even the federal government has weighed in with clarification of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, stressing to healthcare providers that the patient privacy rule “does not prevent your ability to disclose necessary information about a patient to law enforcement, family members of the patient, or other persons, when you believe the patient presents a serious danger to himself or other people.”

“If a mental health professional has a patient who has made a credible threat to inflict serious and imminent bodily harm on one or more persons, HIPAA permits the mental health professional to alert the police, a parent or other family member, school administrators or campus police, and others who may be able to intervene to avert harm from the threat,” Leon Rodriguez, director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, wrote in a January 2013 letter to health care providers.

The name of Rodger’s therapist has not been released. It’s also unclear at what time he or she received the email linking to Rodger’s manifesto.

Local police checked in on Rodger on April 30 in response to calls from his parents and a social worker, according to police.

“They determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold,” Deputy Sheriff Bill Brown said.

“If they had demanded to search my room, that would have ended everything,” Rodger wrote of the police visit in his manifesto.

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ALS Patient Lives Long Enough to See His Journey on Film

Stock Byte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For Steve and Hope Dezember, life really did change in the blink of an eye.

Hope was working as a mental health therapist when she started dating Steve Dezember, an engineer recruiter, after connecting through mutual friends.

“It was really sweet, our eyes met and it was instant,” Hope, 29, told ABC News Monday.

Their whirlwind, and carefree, romance lasted just six months before Steve, only 28, was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal and progressive neurodegenerative disease.

But when Steve, now 31, proposed to Hope two days after the official diagnosis, she didn’t hesitate.

“I know this is going to be hard and you don’t have to stay,” Steve told Hope. “But if you do, I want you to be my wife.”

Steve was diagnosed with ALS in August 2011 and they were married two months later.

“The minute Steve was diagnosed, we said we really have to do something,” Hope said.

Do something they did. Hope and Steve went on a tropical honeymoon, road tripped across the country and crossed items off their bucket list.

But the couple realized they wanted to share their journey with a wider audience in the hopes that Steve’s journey can possibly change the course of the future of the disease. They contacted one of their friends who shot their wedding video to discuss their plans.

“Steve would be a great person to follow through the course of the disease to see what ALS does and how quickly it happens,” Hope said of their thoughts on the initial project.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and has no treatments or cure. ALS progressively robs those affected by causing muscle weakness, paralysis and, ultimately, respiratory failure. The average lifespan after diagnosis is two to five years, according to ALS.net.

The Johns Creek, Georgia, couple originally thought their video would be an informative 15-minute film about ALS, Hope said, but as they started to film, more people wanted to get involved and a larger story began to develop.

Although originally intending to spread awareness about ALS and its crippling effects, the couple’s love for each other quickly overshadowed the disease.

“Watching him stay so positive and us growing together,” Hope said, “it’s been a beautiful journey in a weird way.”

Thanks to the support Steve received, the film was completely funded through Kickstarter after the couple raised $30,000 in only 15 days. Major musicians jumped on board, including Dave Matthews Band (who has licensed music to be used in the film and invited the couple on stage at a recent concert) and Michael Franti (who has become a close family friend).

The eye-opening documentary follows Steve and Hope from January 2012 through April 2014. Viewers will see the highs and lows, from Steve’s dancing at his wedding to shortly after, only able to be mobilized in a wheelchair. The documentary also shows his being fitted with a feeding tube, which he is now completely dependent on, as well as his hospitalization in April 2013 with aspiration pneumonia. As a result of the pneumonia, Steve had an emergency tracheotomy, causing him to lose his ability to speak or to eat food. He was also recently fitted with a ventilator that has helped him stabilize.

Through it all, Hope has bravely stayed by Steve’s side, and it has taught her a lot about life, too, she says.

“I hope that people will learn as they face adversity, which they will, I hope they learn to face it head on with courage, with love, and to never give up,” Hope said.

It’s now her mission to help raise awareness and help find a cure or treatment for the disease that frustratingly has very few options, she said.

For now, taking it one day at a time, Hope is grateful that Steve is stabilized, the most stabilized he has been in a year. The couple is also looking forward to the big premiere of their documentary Sunday at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta.

To learn more about “Hope for Steve” and the Dezember’s mission, please visit their Facebook page or website.

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Therapist Turns Heartbeats of Dying Patients into Music

Image Source/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — Margaret and Jeremy Bennett’s son died in February, but they still listen to his heartbeat every day.

As 14-year-old Dylan Bennett lay dying in the intensive care unit of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Brian Schreck recorded his heartbeat. He then paired rhythmic thumping with some of Dylan’s favorite music to create a song for the Bennetts to keep.

“Our son was dying in front of us, and it was very tough,” Jeremy Bennett said in a short film about the songs. “So just to hear that music, it really, really got my spirits up and I needed that.”

Over the last six months, Schreck has made a dozen songs for the families of dying patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to help them cope with loss, he told ABC News.

He said families worry that they’ll forget the feel of their loved ones after they die, and he wants to preserve their “humanity” through music.

He said the songs vary just as much as the patients, and has included music by artists from John Legend to Metallica. He plays the music himself but leaves the vocals out.

Schreck has been a music therapist for 10 years, but he only recently started making music for patients in the intensive care unit, which he said can be tense.

“People are very on edge all around,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s quiet when I go into the room, people don’t really know exactly what to do or say.”

Although there isn’t much follow-up, Schreck said he’s heard about families playing his heartbeat songs at patients’ funerals. And learning that the Bennetts listened to the song he put together for them was incredibly gratifying, he said.

“To let me know that it’s in some way helping with their ability to cope with the very early onset of grief is a very rewarding thing,” he said.

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Oldest American Turned 115 on Saturday

ABC News(DETROIT) — America’s oldest citizen, Jeralean Talley, turned 115 on Saturday.

Talley is considered a “supercentenarian” by the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks some of the oldest people in the world. She is officially believed to be the second oldest person in the world, after another woman in Japan.

Talley was born in 1899 and says she still is able to care for herself and get around on her own, as long as she has a walker. She lives with her 76-year-old daughter in the same house she has lived in since the 1960s. According to the Detroit Free Press, Talley has been active in her old age, even going fishing on her birthday Saturday, and only gave up bowling at the age of 104.

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High Co-Pays May Keep Children from Receiving Asthma Care

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study indicates that high co-pays may prevent American children from doctor visits and medication necessary to fight asthma.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, parents who were forced to share more of the cost of their child’s treatment — either through deductibles or co-pays — were often forced to use cheaper medication or even go without.

The study surveyed 769 parents of children with asthma between the ages of four and 11 years old. Those parents at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level were significantly less likely to make a trip to a doctor’s office or the emergency department, four percent compared to 32 percent of parents with lower co-pays.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than nine percent of American children have the potentially fatal respiratory disease.

The survey also found that three percent of parents changed to a cheaper medication because of cost. About 10 percent of parents said they gave their child less of the medication than prescribed for the same reason.

The study’s author says that the low-income subsidies brought by the Affordable Care Act could help to reduce the cost barriers for many families, though failing to assist those who are unable to afford employer-sponsored family coverage.

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Baseball Stadium Has Unique Pitch for Sun-Burned Fans in Bleachers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PAWTUCKET, R.I.) — Should you forget your favorite baseball cap, the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island have you covered…literally.

The team has joined with the Rhode Island Department of Health and posted sunscreen dispensaries throughout the McCoy Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island, for anyone looking to avoid a sunburn.

To draw attention to the dangers of sun damage, team players also recorded radio and video PSAs to promote the use of sunscreen and remaining under shade during midday when sun is the brightest.

This summer is the second year that the Rhode Island Department of Health has had the dispensaries out and according to the department more than “10,000 doses” were dispensed last summer. Each dose is about the size of a single shot and the department hopes to double the usage this summer. This Monday the head of the Rhode Island department of Health will throw out the first pitch.

But the health department isn’t stopping with baseball. They are also working to find a sponsor to place sunscreen dispensaries at a local zoo and parks around the state.

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Hummus Recalled from Trader Joe’s and Target for Possible Listeria Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hummus products sold at Trader Joe’s, Target, and Giant Eagle are being recalled as a result of a possible risk of listeria, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Food manufacturer Lansal will voluntarily recall approximately 14,860 pounds of hummus and dip.

No illnesses were reported, according to officials, but the potential for contamination was discovered by the Texas Department of Health during a routine test of Target Archer Farms Traditional Hummus.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE A FULL LIST OF RECALLED PRODUCTS ]

Listeria monocytogenes, linked to the incident, can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, in young children, as well as the elderly.

Symptoms of related illness include stiffness, nausea, high fever, and severe headaches.

Individuals who purchased the affected products are urged to dispose of the food or return it to store locations for a full refund.

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Fitness Trackers May Help Kids’ Physical Activity, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fitness trackers have proven to motivate adults to get active, but the devices may also help in promoting exercise among kids, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of California asked kids ages 7 though 10 to try four different devices and found that participants with the highest success rate were those wearing a wrist tracker, compared to over-the-hip or arm devices.

The electronics can help children gauge their fitness, and the devices’ ease in accessibility also aids in activity, said Dr. Sara Schaefer, associate director of Children’s Health and Education at UC Davis.

Children are recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day, according to experts. During the study, researchers measured not only the quantity of actions, such as steps, but also quality, including intensity of the workouts.

Fitness trackers can help shape school programs, Schaefer concluded, with data integrated into a curriculum so kids can be more involved.

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Fitness Trackers May Help Kids’ Physical Activity, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fitness trackers have proven to motivate adults to get active, but the devices may also help in promoting exercise among kids, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of California asked kids ages 7 though 10 to try four different devices and found that participants with the highest success rate were those wearing a wrist tracker, compared to over-the-hip or arm devices.

The electronics can help children gauge their fitness, and the devices’ ease in accessibility also aids in activity, said Dr. Sara Schaefer, associate director of Children’s Health and Education at UC Davis.

Children are recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day, according to experts. During the study, researchers measured not only the quantity of actions, such as steps, but also quality, including intensity of the workouts.

Fitness trackers can help shape school programs, Schaefer concluded, with data integrated into a curriculum so kids can be more involved.

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Thousands Potentially Exposed to Hepatitis A at Missouri Restaurant

iStock/Thinkstock(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) — An employee at a Red Robin in Springfield, Missouri may have exposed as many as 5,000 people to the hepatitis A virus, according to authorities.

More than 2,000 people received immunizations Thursday and Friday, in the first attempts of a mass effort to address the scare. Officials are racing against the clock, said Kevin Gipson, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

“It’s significant enough risk that we needed to notify the public and we have some immunization clinics to try to prevent any further spread of hepatitis A,” Gipson said.

Vaccines must be given between 14 days of the time people were exposed, he added. Individuals potentially at risk visited the restaurant between May 8 and 16.

The incident alarmed restaurant-goers, including Andrea Hall, who recently ate the establishment with her family.

“It scared me because my husband’s been sick and when I saw that a lot of his symptoms matched the systems of that, a red flag just went off and I’m like, what do I do from here?” Hall said.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, joint pain, and jaundice, among others.

Hall hopes it’s just a stomach bug, but said she worries of potential medical bills and Red Robin’s plan of action.

Health department officials said the Missouri restaurant is now considered safe.

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