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Dec. 22, 2007, midnight
Federal health officials are reviewing whether routine immunizations contributed to the deaths of as many as three North Idaho babies this fall, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week. The agency has requested autopsy reports and medical records for at least two children and could seek them for a third Kootenai County infant, all of whom died in September and October, apparently within days of receiving recommended vaccines.
Dec. 21, 2007, midnight
A sudden spike in carbon monoxide poisonings in Spokane is fueling renewed warnings about the dangers of propane heaters and other devices that produce the deadly gas. At least 20 people have been examined or treated for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning at Deaconess Medical Center since Thanksgiving, doctors say. Last year, a record 30 people were treated at the hospital's Comprehensive Wound Healing Center between October and February.
Dec. 16, 2007, midnight
Despite increased awareness of the prevalence and virulence of the potentially deadly, drug-resistant staph germ known as MRSA, hospitals in Washington and across the nation may not be doing enough to combat the problem, infection control workers said. An informal survey of about 2,100 infection specialists, including some in Spokane, showed that half of the experts thought their institutions could or should do more to prevent and control methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Dec. 12, 2007, midnight
Two years after Washington’s strictest-in-the-nation smoking ban left local bar owners and patrons fuming mad, resistance apparently has disappeared in a puff of acceptance. Complaints to the Spokane Regional Health District’s smoking hotline have plummeted, falling 82 percent from 270 in 2006 to 49 so far this year. That includes a decline in complaints about smoking indoors from 183 to 40 and complaints about smoking too near a doorway from 170 to four, district records showed.
Dec. 11, 2007, midnight
Hospitals and clinics in the Inland Northwest and across Washington are limiting nuclear medicine tests to only the most serious cases as a reactor in Canada remains idle, threatening supplies. At Deaconess Medical Center, Kootenai Medical Center and Spokane Cardiology, only emergency and critical cases will receive tests that require technetium-99, a radioactive substance used for diagnosis and evaluation of ailments.
Dec. 10, 2007, midnight
When Ronnita Donohoe saw some of her daughter's toys on a massive recall list last summer, she did what most worried mothers would do. She took the playthings away from 4-year-old Isabella and returned them to the store for credit.
Dec. 6, 2007, midnight
Medical laboratories in Spokane and across Washington will begin reporting the most serious cases of MRSA this month, offering health officials new insight into the prevalence of the potentially deadly drug-resistant bacteria. Starting Dec. 17, most of the state's 117 clinical labs will document invasive cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a germ that has become increasingly hard to treat with front-line antibiotics.
Dec. 3, 2007, midnight
This time, Betty Marsh knew better than to mess around. When the 63-year-old Harrington, Wash., woman had a heart attack nearly three years ago, she waited hours to seek treatment thinking her symptoms would go away. When they didn't, her ex-husband drove her 65 miles to Spokane to get help.
Nov. 25, 2007, midnight
A gimpy hip just wouldn't do for John Gilbert, a 55-year-old Spokane firefighter whose life depends on his ability to be mobile. "I'm the one who's sent down the hole or off the edge," said Gilbert, a member of Fire Station 4's technical rescue team. "I wanted to feel confident I can do my job."
Nov. 20, 2007, midnight
The father of a 17-year-old Spokane Valley boy who died after taking two 10-milligram methadone tablets is suing the family of the teenage girl who gave them to him. Ken Zigler, 52, had agreed to court orders aimed at rehabilitating Stephanie Davis after the March 2006 death of Zigler's son, Tim.
Nov. 15, 2007, midnight
Spokane's largest medical laboratory could begin reporting serious cases of drug-resistant staph infections known as MRSA immediately, an official said Wednesday. The move would give state officials, including Gov. Chris Gregoire, a good idea about how common dangerous incidents of the potentially life-threatening bacteria have become, said Ann Robinson, director for virology and microbiology for the Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories.
Nov. 14, 2007, midnight
Mirroring a national trend, chlamydia cases continued to climb in Spokane last year, although Washington state saw a dip in reports of the most common sexually transmitted disease. Cases of chlamydia jumped to 1,121 in Spokane in 2006, up from 1,071 a year earlier, according to figures from the state Department of Health.
Nov. 10, 2007, midnight
Richard T. Hubbard's 100-year-old heart was beating just fine Friday, two days after he underwent a double valve replacement at Deaconess Medical Center. The retired Spokane bricklayer was tired but alert after doctors replaced his calcified aortic and mitral valves with flexible new substitutes from a pig.
Nov. 10, 2007, midnight
Spurred by rising worry over potentially dangerous drug-resistant staph infections, a Washington lawmaker has asked Gov. Chris Gregoire to declare MRSA a public health emergency that requires immediate monitoring. Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, sent a letter Thursday demanding that Gregoire invoke her executive powers to order the state Department of Health to track cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Nov. 9, 2007, midnight
A federal judge on Thursday suspended Washington's rule requiring state pharmacists to sell the "morning after" birth control pill, cheering druggists who claimed it violated their religious freedoms. A preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton prevents the state from disciplining pharmacists who refuse to dispense the medication, known as Plan B, as long as they immediately refer patients to nearby sources.
Nov. 8, 2007, midnight
Dr. Tiffany Kuehl strides through the emergency department at Deaconess Medical Center, past rows of glowing computers and high-tech monitors aimed at healing trauma of every type. Around a corner and down a short hall, however, the doctor stops, pausing for a moment before showing visitors the decidedly low-tech equipment used to treat victims of rape and sexual assault.
Nov. 6, 2007, midnight
Nearly a year after firing Dr. Kim Thorburn, the Spokane Regional Health District is having trouble finding candidates to replace the former health officer. More than a month of searching and 376 marketing letters have yielded 10 resumes, and of those, three or four applicants qualify for the post, according to the agency hired to conduct the nationwide search. A dozen other people have inquired about the position but have not submitted applications.
Nov. 3, 2007, midnight
Deer Park's 50-year-old community hospital is all but certain to close, shifting or idling nearly 60 employees and forcing residents to travel to Spokane or elsewhere for acute care. Providence Health Care board members voted Thursday to shutter the 24-bed facility in the wake of declining admissions, falling revenues and a shortage of specialists willing to staff the hospital.
Nov. 3, 2007, midnight
Three of Spokane's most-used medical clinics held their own against the rest of the state in measures of treatment including breast and cervical cancer screening and diabetes care, a new insurance company report card shows. Consumers can see for the first time how Rockwood Clinic, Columbia Medical Associates and Physicians Clinic of Spokane stacked up against a dozen other Washington medical groups in the annual Quality Score Card issued by Premera Blue Cross.
Nov. 2, 2007, midnight
Empire Health Services officials are rebuffing union efforts to force a new buyer to adopt an existing contract, despite verbal assurances they would, organizers said Thursday. The 2,700 employees of Deaconess Medical Center and other Empire affiliates have been told that they'll retain their jobs, wages, seniority and some benefits after a pending sale to for-profit giant Community Health Systems Inc. of Franklin, Tenn.
Nov. 1, 2007, midnight
At least nine cases of drug-resistant staph infections have been reported to schools across the Inland Northwest in the past week – and more are sure to follow. With three confirmed cases in Coeur d'Alene, three cases in Post Falls and three cases suspected in Spokane's Roosevelt, Audubon and Jefferson elementary schools, concern about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, has skyrocketed.
Oct. 31, 2007, midnight
A coalition of Spokane churches and nonprofit groups has accused Empire Health Services of backing away from an agreement to provide vital health screenings to low-income and other vulnerable people. Organizers of the Spokane Alliance said Tuesday that officials from the hospital system that includes Deaconess Medical Center had broken a commitment to expand testing that could reach at least 500 people.
Oct. 31, 2007, midnight
Deer Park residents don't intend to let their hospital close without a fight. In recent weeks, they've circulated petitions, filled community meeting rooms with standing-room-only crowds and grilled Providence Health Care executives about plans to shut the doors of the 24-bed acute care center.
Oct. 30, 2007, midnight
When traditional antibiotics couldn't heal the oozing infection on Christy Carney's leg, the Colville, Wash., woman turned to a small shrub that grows in the Southwestern desert. She claims leaves from chaparral plants, brewed into teas and pounded into poultices, cured the dangerous infection known as MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.