Elevated Arsenic Levels Found in North Texas Wells

There are elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals close to natural gas sites in North Texas’ Barnett Shale area, UT-Arlington researchers announced last week. The study did not conclusively link the heavy metal concentrations to fracking itself, claiming that they could be the product of lower water tables from drought, removal of water used for fracking, or faulty gas-well casings. The research was released in Environmental Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed journal. “This study alone can’t conclusively identify the exact causes of elevated levels of contaminants in areas near natural gas drilling, but it does provide a powerful argument… Full Story

Former CMS Head Identifies 11 “Monsters” Facing Health Industry

The healthcare industry has a long way to go in improving care, and must battle multiple obstacles to pass the next wave in transforming the industry, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Don Berwick said at the American Hospital Association’s Leadership Summit in San Diego last week. The “monsters” or challenges that currently face the industry span the industry’s culture, policy, and practice: – Instill confidence in science as a basis for action: Berwick says that some doctors are allowing “senseless unscientific variation” in their practices instead of relying on facts and medical science, making for a… Full Story

Municipalities Prepare for Affordable Care Act, But Unknowns Persist

Officials in Dallas-Fort Worth-area cities are expecting to see a spike in health care costs for their employees, but the amount of the increase—and how municipalities will pay for it—still remains a mystery for most. With much of the Affordable Care Act set to take effect in 2014, officials are planning for the worst, but hoping for a reprieve. President Barack Obama’s administration has pushed back the date for implementation of the ACA, leaving many cities in the dark on how much to budget for health insurance. “It really is a significant issue for everyone,” said town of Argyle finance director… Full Story

Oxygenation of Tumors Can Be a Valuable Tool in Guiding Radiation Therapy, UT Southwestern Researchers Find

Cancer researchers have theorized for years that lack of oxygen stimulates tumor growth and metastasis in cancer cells. Recent studies have shown that smaller tumors have particularly better blood flow and, hence, oxygenation, than larger tumors. UT Southwestern scientists studying the phenomena have employed the use of an “oxygen challenge”—inhaling oxygen while monitoring tumor response—to inhibit tumor growth. Their study, published late last month, shows that enriching the oxygen content of hypoxic cancer cells in conjunction with radiation therapy coincides with a greater delay in tumor growth in an animal model. The findings could lead to the use of new,… Full Story

Lewisville Congressman Warns of Obamacare Enrollment Fallout

 If Affordable Care Act enrollment advocates push too hard to hit their targets, they could persuade a lot of people to claim subsidies only to have to pay them back at the end of the year, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Lewisville) said during Politico’s Pro Health Care Breakfast Briefing last week. “I think there are going to be some difficulties there,” he said. Burgess has been an outspoken critic of the administration’s plan, previously saying that the law is “unsustainable and unreliable.” The Obama administration has said its goal is to enroll 7 million Americans in exchanges by the end of 2014.… Full Story

Genetic Glitch May Be at the Root of Allergies, Johns Hopkins Researchers Announce

Itchy eyes, hives, and eczema may be a thing of the past, as John Hopkins researchers have discovered a faulty genetic pathway at the root of many allergic reactions. A study, published by investigators at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the Johns Hopkins Institute of Genetic Medicine in the July 24 issue of Science Translational Medicine, shows that aberrant signaling by a protein called “transforming growth factor-beta” may be disrupting the way the body reacts to common food and environmental allergens. A misfire by the TGF-beta could be responsible for immune cells aggressively attacking the body, leading not only to… Full Story

Texas Halfway Houses, Mental Health Units Face Closure

A $23 million dollar budget cut has the Texas Juvenile Justice Department considering the closure of multiple halfway houses and mental health units, according to the Texas Tribune. One of the facilities in question is a 124-year old Corsicana youth detention center that houses mentally ill offenders. This has city leaders worried about not only the patients, but also those who are currently employed by the facility. “The closure is something we certainly don’t want,” Mayor Chuck McClanahan told the Tribune, citing how difficult it can be to find jobs with state benefits. If the facility closes, the mentally ill patients… Full Story

Plano-based LHP Hospital Group to Take Ownership of New Mexico Health System

Plano-based LHP Hospital Group has struck a joint venture with the University of New Mexico, UNM Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque to become the new owners of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services in New Mexico. RMCHCS is a private integrated system that includes a 69-bed hospital and several clinics. LHP Hospital Group will own 80 percent of the stake in RMCHCS. LHP is a privately held hospital company, established to provide essential capital and expertise to not-for-profit hospitals and health systems. Through joint ventures—such as the agreement that is recommended to be developed with RMCHCS—LHP owns and operates acute-care facilities in small cities throughout the… Full Story

Mobile Health Brings Opportunity, Challenges

As consumers become more connected electronically, the demand for mobile health—mobile patient records, health applications for smartphones, real-time wellness data—will continue to climb. The trick is to manage those demands in a way that is efficient for the patient, and protects their wellbeing, according to Dr. Luis Saldana, associate chief medical information officer at Texas Health Resources. Saldana spoke Wednesday at Dallas Health 2.0, a local branch of a broader movement dedicated toward networking and brainstorming about new technologies in healthcare. More than 100 people attended the Uptown event. “Our goal is for the data to follow the patient,” Saldana said.… Full Story

Parkland Garage Earns LEED Gold Certification

The tower parking garage on Parkland’s new hospital campus has received the LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the hospital announced Thursday. Opened in January 2012, the garage features eight levels with a capacity of 1,700 cars, video surveillance systems, emergency phones, and an automated parking count system. The state-of-the-art design includes a custom aluminum grating system and aluminum composite panels. LED lighting and solar panels allow the garage to save energy. Even with its advanced features, the garage was built at a cost of $25 million—$1.7 million under the initial budget. “Through sensitive design by the architects… Full Story