• Newsweek reports some ‘Katrina kids’ are amongst the sickest children in the U.S. In Newsweek, Children’s Health Fund president and Columbia University professor Irwin Redlener described children who spent extended periods of time in Baton Rouge FEMA trailer parks as “the sickest I have ever seen in the U.S.”

The Columbia/CHR study of 261 of these children found 41 percent were anemic, a rate twice as high as in New York City homeless shelters; more than 50 percent suffered mental-health problems; and 42 percent had respiratory infections and disorders. (The last trailers shut down in May 2008.)

  • In October 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered West Jefferson Medical Center to pay the U.S. and the state of Louisiana $3.3 million “to resolve allegations that the hospital overcharged the Medicaid program,” a DOJ press release states.

This resolution came after a lawsuit alleging WJMC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit lied about capabilities in order to get Medicaid funding; as a result, WJMC received too much money from March 1998 through October 2003. Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said in the DOJ press release that the verdict should send a strong message to the healthcare community about Medicaid abuse and fraud.

  • Ochsner Baptist Medical Center recently concluded renovations of facilities at 2700 Napoleon Avenue including a 12-bed intensive care unit, a wing comprising 43 private rooms and an emergency room.
  • Scientists have successfully employed stem cells to restore a stroke victim’s speech and use of his right arm, the UK’s Daily Mail reports. Biocompatibles International developed a 2-by-2-centimeter “CellBeads” pouch containing polypropylene beads, each filled with 1 million stem cells (harvested from bone marrow).

Inserted directly into the brain, the genetically engineered cells produce CM1, a chemical that heals and protects the brain. The bead casing hides the stem cells from possible attack by the immune system, and the pouch ensures easy removal.

Doctors at the International Neuroscience Institute in Hanover, Germany, tested the method on a 49-year-old double stroke victim; six weeks after surgery, the patient’s body had almost returned to normal. If further trials prove successful, the treatment could be available within 5 years.