The Growing Costs of Poor Mental Health
It’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. So let’s have a frank conversation about North Carolina’s mental health. We have a growing mental health problem in our country. 43.8 million American adults experienced a diagnosable mental illness in 2013 — nearly 1 in 5 of us. Give yourself a minute to understand that number: one in five. And diagnoses of mental health are climbing. The number of people so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for disability income grew almost two and a half times between 1987 and 2007.
Why Attend the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly? Because It’s Good for Your Health.
North Carolina’s fiscal health depends on two things: lowering the cost of healthcare, and figuring out how to provide better healthcare to people who need it. The upcoming 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly addresses both. Are you a rural North Carolinian who wants to know why good healthcare is hard to come by? A rural business wanting better ways to keep your employees healthy?
Pearly Whites, On the Go
AppHealthCare takes teeth seriously. That’s why they’re taking their show on the road with a portable dental clinic. Regular preventative dental care could save the country as much as $1.7 billion in emergency room costs, according to the American Dental Association. But folks in rural regions have a harder time getting regular healthcare from dentists. So AppHealthCare, the tri-county public health department that covers Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties, is using a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring dentists right to the people’s doors.
If North Carolina’s Hospitals Entered a Pageant, Who Would Win?
Ask any Miss America contestant: being judged isn’t fun. And hospitals across the country are feeling the pain right now. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released ratings of more than 3,000 hospitals. Their scores are based on more than 60 factors, including infection rates, patient reviews, and timeliness of care. (That last one’s particularly relevant in North Carolina; our emergency department wait times are through the roof, particularly for mental health.) So how did we do? Meh. Out of more than 200 individual hospitals, we only had four five-star winners, and the most well-known hospitals in NC didn’t make the grade. (To be fair, that’s about even with the rest of the country. There were only 251 five-star ratings in the U.S.!) And the winners are... Novant Health Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern North Carolina Specialty Hospital in Durham Congratulations to those four! But we want better. And while we’re at it, we want to find ways to control healthcare costs in our state. Everyone has to do their part to accomplish that: we need healthier individuals, less burden on our emergency rooms, and better outcomes and value from care. Our part — and our purpose for being — is to advocate for North Carolina’s fiscal health. Hospitals, we’ll help you do your part by doing ours. Read more about the hospital ratings.
Hey America: Be Like Kannapolis
In July 2003, North Carolina was rocked by a seismic economic shift — and Kannapolis was its epicenter. The city’s story is a microcosm of the whole country’s. And it gives us hope. Once upon a time... Kannapolis was a mill town. Plain and simple. Now a community 45,000 strong just north of Charlotte, it used to be the home of 30,000 mill workers. Cannon Mills, a towel and sheet manufacturing giant started in 1906, was the world’s largest producer of sheets and towels throughout the Depression, throughout WWII, throughout the whole century. The mill town finally incorporated as Kannapolis in 1984, but even then a huge chunk of the population was employed at the mill...right up until 2003. When it all came crashing down. The Downfall Through a series of transactions in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Cannon Mills became Pillowtex Corporation, and Pillowtex shut its doors with no warning in July 2003. They laid off 6,450 workers in one day — the single largest layoff in North Carolina history. The closure gutted Kannapolis, and it precipitated an industry freefall that left the region’s economy in tatters. By 2006, the number of textile plants in North Carolina had dropped by 40%, and we went from 233,715 textile workers to just 80,232. Add that to the 2007 market crash, and it was a disastrous few years for Kannapolis. A Brighter Future So what changed? The same thing that’s changing in the rest of the country: we’re filling the manufacturing jobs void with service sector and tech jobs. According to the Brookings Institution this month, if we’re smart, we’ll focus on the tech. And that’s exactly what Kannapolis did. It turned its mill into a research campus. (Seriously: they spectacularly blew up the building in the third largest implosion in U.S. history, and built the NC Research Campus in its place. Talk about seismic shifts. Boom. Kannapolis used to weave fabric. Now it weaves our futures in health technology research. The NC Research Campus is a partnership between corporations, universities and healthcare organizations dedicated to researching plants, nutrition and the environment in order find preventions and treatments for what ails us. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity: they’re tackling it all. Cheers, thank you, and godspeed. Kannapolis turned the ruins of its manufacturing industry into the seedbed of the future. And if they can do it, we can too.
Dr. Fitbit: New Developments in Wearables and Healthcare
For years the healthcare field has been trying to harness the power of today’s wearables (Fitbits, Apple watches...you know the drill) to improve your healthcare. Now there may be a new way. Fitbit has recently created a position called President of Digital Health and hired from the C-suite of a popular drugstore and pharmacy chain to fill it.