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DULUTH—Joe and Dorothy Sayers disagree, slightly, on what their monthly health insurance premium had risen to six or seven years back. It was either $1,600 and slated to rise to $2,300, or it already was $2,300 for themselves and their three daughters. Either way, $2,300 was the breaking point for the couple, who live in Duluth's Lakeside neighborhood. "That's when I said, 'This is enough,'" Dorothy Sayers said during a recent interview.
DULUTH—Shawn Bolf works at his family's garage-door company, as he has for 25 years, but these days the work is mostly at a desk, preparing bids and ordering supplies. He doesn't hunt anymore, either. He wouldn't be able to climb into a deer stand without wearing a harness.
DULUTH—Benjamin Clarke's bank doesn't make loans, and it doesn't have a drive-through window. He does want deposits, although he's a bit picky about what he'll take. "I really prefer the deer tick," said Clarke, in his office on the third floor of the University of Minnesota Medical School's Duluth campus. "I'm after Lyme disease. It's very particular about what tick it's in."
DULUTH—Hospitals in northern Minn. and across the state have been scrambling to cope with a nationwide shortage of injectable opioid painkillers. "The supply is just inconsistent," said Gina Lemke, pharmacy director at St. Luke's hospital. "We can't place an order and trust that it's going to arrive." Given the effort to cut down on the number of opioids that are prescribed, it may seem ironic that there's a shortage of some opioids used in an injectable form. But in that setting, opioids still perform a needed function, pharmacists say.
DULUTH—Tyesha Nelson isn't down on medical marijuana, even though it didn't help her with her intractable pain. The 31-year Duluth woman "was placing all my bets on the medical marijuana" to relieve the pain from the rheumatoid arthritis with which she had been diagnosed at age 23, she said on Wednesday, Feb. 28. She had a dose in August 2016, soon after intractable pain was added as an approved condition for treatment with medical cannabis in Minnesota. Not only did it fail to relieve her pain, Nelson said, it "gave me the worst anxiety I ever experienced in my life."
DULUTH—As a social work intern in the Twin Cities, Najma Mohamed hears traumatic stories from her fellow Somali immigrants every day. "These are clients that are coming from war-torn countries," said Mohamed, 26, who came to the U.S. when she was in her early teens. "They witnessed a lot of violence, a lot of robbery, a lot of burning houses. ... I had one client, she said she was raped by 10 men."
Recovering opioid addicts will have greater access to a maintenance drug, especially in rural areas, under a measure announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23, by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, a Minnesota expert on addictions said. The new regulation gives nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to seek waivers giving them authority to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine, a drug used to help people quit or reduce use of opiates, such as heroin.
DULUTH, Minn.—Andrew Carroll, the former University of Minnesota Duluth hockey captain who died on Monday, Jan. 22, took his own life, according to the Chicago medical examiner's office. "The cause of death is complications of multiple blunt force head injuries due to a jump from height," Becky Schlikerman of the Chicago Bureau of Administration wrote in an email. "The manner of death is suicide."
DULUTH, Minn.—The flu bug has bitten Minnesota's nursing care residents particularly hard this winter, a state health official said. "We've seen a record number of outbreaks," said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control for the Minnesota Department of Health, in an interview on Thursday, Jan. 18. "Our long-term care facility outbreaks are way up."
DULUTH — When Theresa Wanless learned she was five months pregnant with her second child, she knew something had to change. "I immediately told my OB, 'I'm addicted to heroin,'" the Duluth woman related. " 'I shoot up. I need help. I can't just stop.' I was honest because I was scared for my child, but I couldn't just stop." It was early in 2014, and Wanless was caught in a wave of opioid addiction that was hitting Minnesota and the nation and increasingly affecting pregnant women and their babies as well.