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Northside Hospital: Mortality rates on par with national average

Northside Hospital: Mortality rates on par with national average

ATLANTA -- Northside Hospital was on par with the national average for mortality rates for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia even though the raw numbers were slightly higher than other hospitals across the country.

Northside was one of two local hospitals whose death rates for all three measures of patient care were slightly higher than the national average.

For example, the mortality rate for heart attack patients nationwide is 15.9 percent. At Northside, 16.6 percent of patients admitted to the hospital with a heart attack die.

But the raw numbers don't tell the whole story. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzes the data from thousands of hospitals nationwide to see how significant statistically those differences are.

Future of State Health Benefit Plan to be secured

Future of State Health Benefit Plan to be secured

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Department of Community Health has adopted a proposal to secure the future of the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP).

The initiative introduces a new consumer-directed wellness plan, improves plan administration, eliminates the SHBP's projected deficit for this year and substantially reduces future deficits.

"The board is pleased to endorse this thoughtful and responsible plan that is not afraid to tackle the big issues," said DCH board chairman Ross Mason. "This is a forward-looking plan that provides real bottom line-driven solutions."

SHBP is facing a projected deficit of slightly more than $800 million during the next two years.

"Our major concern is the continued delivery of quality health care services at an affordable cost," said DCH commissioner David Cook.

Regents vote to hike health costs for employees

Regents vote to hike health costs for employees

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Board of Regents is raising health insurance premiums for employees and cutting coverage for about 700 workers.

The board voted Tuesday to hike rates by 5.2 percent. The university system will save $30 million by limiting access to certain doctors and hospitals.

University system workers, like all state employees, received no pay increase this year.

The board also voted to cut insurance for about 700 part-time employees by raising the minimum number of hours they have to work to qualify for coverage from 20 to 30 per week. The change will save about $1.5 million.

This is the first time since 2008 that insurance premiums have increased.

Atlanta Public Schools implement heat ban until Friday

Atlanta Public Schools implement heat ban until Friday

ATLANTA – According to Keith Bromery of Atlanta Public Schools:

APS officials have banned all outdoor student activities until after 6 p.m. through the end of the week because of the current high heat and humidity conditions in the region.

The restriction is district-wide for all K12 grades and includes football and other sports practices and conditioning activities, band practices and rehearsals, and other outside activities.

 In many instances, coaches and band directors have moved practices and rehearsals indoors as a precaution to prevent heat-related health issues.

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Get vaccinated before school starts

Get vaccinated before school starts

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- The 2011-2012 school year is about to begin for students in both Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools, which means that vaccination rush week is right around the corner.

The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness will administer required vaccinations for school entry at several locations from Monday, Aug. 1 to Friday, Aug. 12.

"During the rush weeks, the nursing division will focus on giving vaccinations, eye/ear/dental screenings and the required certifications for children to attend school," said Dr. Patrice A. Harris, director of Fulton County Health Services.

The county's back-to-school vaccination kickoff will take place Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Fulton Service Center (7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs).

Vaccinations will be given from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

GBI: Prescription drug overdoses rise

GBI: Prescription drug overdoses rise

DECATUR, Ga. -- An analysis of autopsies by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has found a 10 percent increase in the number of prescription overdose deaths in 2010 compared to 2009.

The analysis shows that the number of drug overdose deaths involving only prescription drugs jumped from 508 in 2009 to 560 in 2010. It also showed that 68 other deaths were attributed to a combination of prescription and illicit drugs.

In all, there were 729 drug overdose deaths in 2010. Most of those deaths were found to be accidental, but about nine percent were determined to be suicides.

The analysis of the GBI Medical Examiner's drug overdose autopsies involves 152 counties. The study does not include several Metro Atlanta counties, including Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb.