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Rural News

After long history in Kansas City, American Royal Association is moving across state line

FOX4KC | Posted on October 27, 2016

The American Royal Association announced that it will move out of Kansas City, Mo., where it has been since its beginning, to Wyandotte County.  Although its lease with Kansas City, Mo., is not up until 2045, FOX 4 first reported in May that a board member for the American Royal revealed they were leaning toward leaving Kansas City and the location at Kemper Arena, and moving their headquarters to Kansas City, Kan.  The city of Kansas City, Mo., has been looking at proposals to repurpose Kemper, which would make it unsuitable for the American Royals' needs. The new complex for the American Royal Association will include arena space, exhibit space, barn and expo space as well as a new education center and museum.

Help for Mental Health & Substance Abuse in Western North Carolina

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 27, 2016

One day this June, Wilkes County Sheriff Chris Shew found 22 patients with mental health and substance abuse problems crowding the local hospital’s emergency department, waiting for treatment, transportation or other help.  For Shew, the pileup required his department to provide a deputy around the clock due to the presence of people under voluntary or involuntary commitment at the Wilkes Regional Medical Center. All too often, patients in need of psychiatric services end up in local hospital emergency departments, because there’s no where else to get services. Image courtesy KOMU News, flickr creative commons. This situation has played out frequently across North Carolina in recent years, but a partial solution is coming within the next year for people in mostly rural Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Avery counties. Daymark Enterprises, a service provider contracting with the Smoky Mountain LME-MCO, will open a 16-bed facility-based crisis center in North Wilkesboro.  “Here’s the beauty of these things,” said Billy West, CEO of Daymark, which already operates a 8 a.m.-5 p.m. crisis center in North Wilkesboro. “In our other facilities, the sheriff has to take someone to Broughton [state psychiatric hospital], and when they are released, the sheriff has to come back and get them.”  West said Kannapolis-based Daymark has similar facility-based crisis centers in Monroe, Concord and Statesville and plans one in Lexington in addition to the North Wilkesboro site. In counties without this capacity, law enforcement bears much of the burden of dealing with behavioral health clients when residential and community placements are maxed out.

How Teletherapy Addresses Mental Health Needs

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on October 27, 2016

An acute need for more and easier access to mental health treatment and improvements in communications technology have set off a boom in remote therapy, but strict licensing rules and varying state laws are hampering its growth.  Like telehealth in general, using videoconferencing, smartphones and other technology to treat mental illness has long been recognized as an invaluable tool for getting care to people in rural areas, where shortages of psychiatrists, psychologists and other providers are even more acute than in the rest of the nation. Now, telemental therapy — also called virtual therapy, telepsychiatry or telebehavioral health — is more widely available outside of rural areas and is seen as a way to address two crises that aggravate each other.

Sixth mass extinction? Two-thirds of wildlife may be gone by 2020

CNN | Posted on October 27, 2016

More than two thirds of the world's wildlife could be gone by the end of the decade if action isn't taken soon, a new report from the World Wildlife Fund revealed.Since 1970, there has already been a 58% overall decline in the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles worldwide, according to the WWF's latest bi-annual Living Planet Index.If accurate, that means wildlife across the globe is vanishing at a rate of 2% a year. "This is definitely human impact, we're in the sixth mass extinction. There's only been five before this and we're definitely in the sixth," WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor told CNN.

Heroin's face: Indiana woman, unconscious from overdose, with baby nearby

USA Today | Posted on October 27, 2016

Police in Hope, Ind., found the woman unconscious from an overdose Saturday. She was sprawled behind the steering wheel of her car, head tilted back, sunglasses over blonde curls pulled into a ponytail.  Needle still in hand. Her 10-month old son crying in the back seat. This child, the local town marshal said, is the face of the most helpless victims of Indiana's drug crisis. "Parents are doing this more often with children in the car because they are doing it away from someone who is going to disapprove," said Matthew Tallent, the marshal. "This is becoming a new norm for drug users."  Officer Skylar Hollin's body camera was rolling as he approached the vehicle and opened the driver's door. The time was 2:06 p.m. Police say the camera captured Erika P. Hurt, 25, unconscious in the driver's seat of a car parked at the Dollar General in Hope, located about 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis with a population of 2,100. The incident is reminiscent of what police came across last month in East Liverpool, Ohio: A grandmother and her friend overdosed on heroin in a car with her 4-year-old grandson in the back seat. Photos posted to Facebook became widely circulated. Both incidents serve as reminders of how pervasive and disturbing the problem of heroin abuse is in Indiana and across the region. It's been described as an epidemic by politicians and public health officials here.

California eyes more Sacramento River water for fish, less for farms, cities

Sacramento Bee | Posted on October 26, 2016

Signaling a cutback in water supplies for farming and cities, California regulators on Wednesday issued a new scientific analysis that proposes overhauling the management of the Sacramento River and devoting more water to Northern California’s dwindling fish populations.  The State Water Resources Control Board, in a widely anticipated report crafted by its staff, said it’s considering allowing much more of the flow from the Sacramento River and its tributaries to wash out into the ocean. The board avoided issuing a specific recommendation on how much additional water should go to fish. Instead, the agency is analyzing the impact of allowing anywhere from 35 percent to 75 percent of the flows from the Sacramento River watershed to wash out to sea. Currently about half of the flow from the Sacramento and its tributaries, including the American and Feather rivers, is allowed to flow unimpeded to the ocean for the benefit of fish.



As Rural America Ages, Volunteers Give a Hand

Pew Trusts | Posted on October 26, 2016

Haller, a 65-year-old widow with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who uses an oxygen generator, was rushed to the emergency room several times this year because of breathing problems her doctors said were exacerbated by the mold. She badly needed help, but couldn’t afford the repairs.  Last month, the Harpswell Aging at Home team came to Haller’s rescue. The group of volunteers in their 60s and 70s, dubbed the Dream Team, went to work insulating and shoring up the floor, sealing the foundation, rebuilding the front door, installing rain gutters and storm windows, replacing ceiling lights that were fire hazards, and doing other work — all for free.  Across Maine, volunteers are stepping up to help rural seniors like Haller who want to remain in their homes as they age. Some work with local governments or nonprofits. Others have simply gotten together to offer a hand. Many of them are seniors themselves.  And what they are doing can be emulated by the rest of the nation, as the number of people 65 and over is projected to explode from 48 million to 77 million between now and 2035.

The 6th District Court of Appeals has taken a stand by placing a higher value on companion animals.

Toledo Blade | Posted on October 25, 2016

The court recently remanded a 2015 civil suit over an injured dog back to Toledo Municipal Court for a hearing on damages awarded in the case by determining “substantial justice was not done” by the trial court in awarding the plaintiff only $400 — or the dog’s market value — in December.  “We agree with and acknowledge that pets do not have the same characteristics as other forms of personal property, such as a table or sofa which is disposable and replaceable at our convenience,” the three-judge panel wrote in the decision.  The original lawsuit filed in municipal court in April, 2015, showed plaintiff Jamie Rego of Toledo spent more than $10,000 in veterinary care for the family dog after the “pit bull” puppy was attacked by an adult dog. The appeals court and Mr. Rice noted there have been numerous cases in Ohio and across the country where veterinary expenses were included in economic damages awarded to pet owners. “It certainly is logical to expect that a dog owner is going to take a dog to the veterinarian and seek veterinary care,” Mr. Rice said. He noted that if Kingston had died before being treated, Ms. Rego would be entitled to only his market value.

How poor management left Mexican wolves dangerously inbred

High Country News | Posted on October 25, 2016

On the surface, things seemed to be looking up for the entire Mexican wolf population. In 1998, after Mexican wolves were poisoned and shot out of existence here, the Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 wolves, with the initial goal of growing their numbers to 100. After years of struggle, the population crossed that threshold for the first time in 2015. Biologists counted 110 animals, a 25 percent increase over the previous year. M1296 was among 97 wolves counted in this year’s census.  Yet trouble lurks even in these historic numbers. As the population expands, it’s also edging toward a genetic crisis, and the larger the population gets, the harder it will be to avert. M1296 is descended from a fantastically successful matriarch called AF521, “A” for alpha. His mate is, too. Their story is typical. In fact, biologists know of only one breeding female in the wild that isn’t related to AF521. Wolves shouldn’t sleep with their relatives for the same reason people shouldn’t. Inbreeding can cause dangerous disorders, depress fertility, and even make small populations more vulnerable to extinction. But right now, the Southwest’s Mexican wolves don’t have much choice. On average, they share about as much genetic material as siblings do. They need new blood, and quick.

N.Y. negotiates national settlement with Cigna on opioid treatment

USA Today | Posted on October 24, 2016

The insurer Cigna will no longer require  pre-authorization for prescriptions to treat opioid addiction under the terms of a national settlement announced late Thursday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  Doctors and patients complain that while it may be common to require doctors to get prior approval for other prescriptions, a delay in getting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for heroin addiction can be deadly, as addicts can easily relapse and overdose. While pre-authorizations should just take hours, it can often take days if there are problems with the paperwork.