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Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (2/11/16)

Third Zika virus case confirmed in Dallas. This was announced yesterday. The sample in this case was tested and confirmed positive by a local laboratory. The hope is that local testing for the Zika virus will help contain the disease. The Dallas woman who was confirmed to have Zika had shown symptoms after coming home from Honduras, where the outbreak is far worse. Four other Dallas County residents have had potential symptoms of Zika, and the CDC is currently testing samples. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Health experts say the major Zika outbreak in South America is not likely to happen in the U.S. but that Texas is one of the states more susceptible to minor Zika outbreaks because we’re, uh, well-acquainted with mosquitoes. Time to stock up on insect repellent.

Grass fire near Celina and McKinney destroys 50 Acres. Yesterday a grass fire was responsible for burning 50 acres of land north near the two Dallas suburbs. Several fire departments responded to the incident, which might have threatened a few homes. The fire was put out, and no injuries were sustained. The cause of the fire is not known yet.

Woman with cognitive impairment missing in Plano. 75-year-old Annamarie Doyle has been missing since yesterday afternoon. Because she has a cognitive impairment, her safety could be in jeopardy. Police say she was last seen driving a 2003 gold Jeep Liberty in Plano.

Zika Virus Confirmed in Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services has confirmed a local case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus:

“The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information,” the county said in a news release Tuesday. “There are currently no reports of Zika virus being locally-transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County. However, imported cases make local spread by mosquitoes possible because the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus are found locally. DCHHS advises recent travelers with Zika virus symptoms as well as individuals diagnosed with Zika virus protect themselves from further mosquito bites.”

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people infected with the Zika virus become ill. Symptoms are usually mild, including fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Most people are fine after a week, though there is greater concern for the disease’s effect on pregnant women and their babies. Severe illness and deaths are rare.

I’m sure local TV stations will take a measured, not-at-all-alarmist approach to their reporting of this news.

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Forest Park Medical Center: More Like Krispy Kreme, or a ‘Gold-plated House of Popsicle Sticks’?

After writing about it for our business magazine and online for D Healthcare Daily, which he edits, D CEO Senior Editor Matt Goodman has become the go-to guy for reporting on the head-spinning collapse of the Forest Park Medical Center chain. Now Matt’s insights have been tapped by Lauren Silverman at KERA News, which ran a good synopsis of the luxury-hospital fiasco this week.

Likening once-fast-growing Forest Park to a “gold-plated house of Popsicle sticks,” Silverman quotes a Minnesota healthcare analyst who says the chain’s meltdown reminded him of what happened after Krispy Kreme opened several stores in the Twin Cities: “There was a huge amount of buzz, there were reports about cars lining up blocks long to get Krispy Kreme donuts and after a few months the excitement died out, [and] within about two years, all four stores had closed.”

Leading Off (12/11/15)

Police & Fire Pension Investigated Councilman. Documents surfaced on Thursday that indicate that back in July 2013 the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System asked a consultant — former NBC 5 JaMster Mike Snyder — to run a “forensic trace” on Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs, a member of the pension fund’s board. Gary Lawson, an attorney for the fund, couldn’t explain why the expense appeared on an invoice from Snyder, even though it was Lawson’s firm who had hired and paid Snyder’s consultancy on behalf of the fund. Snyder has also declined to explain the motivation for investigating Griggs. You may have forgotten that at about this same time Snyder took a bunch of heat for having set up fake Facebook profiles to comment anonymously on various blogs in support of the fund’s Museum Tower project in its ongoing dispute with the Nasher Sculpture Center. Based on other items listed on Snyder’s invoices, his “forensic internet research” was intended to determine the identity of other anonymous commenters critical of the pension fund’s leadership, especially famed/infamous-commenter-turned-FrontBurner columnist Wylie H. Dallas. It’s not a stretch to infer that Lawson or Snyder suspected Griggs of being Wylie H. and were hoping to prove it.

Plano Muslim Family’s Home Vandalized. Twice in two days. Come on, people, what were we just saying? We’re better than this.

The Morning News Asks “Are you afraid of going to the dentist? No? How about now? How about now? And now? How are you feeling about somebody rummaging about inside your mouth now? Now? We’re hoping to option this to be adapted into the next season of American Horror Story.”

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Study Says 100,000+ Texas Women Have Attempted Their Own Abortions

Those were the findings released today by the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which used an online survey to conclude that between 100,000 and 240,000 woman in the state have attempted to induce their own abortions.

The study was attempting to assess the effects of the 2013 restrictions — which required clinic performing the procedure to be ambulatory surgical centers — passed by the state legislature that resulted in the number of legal abortion clinics falling from 41 in 2012 to 17 now.

Most of those are in the major cities — including two in Dallas and one in Fort Worth — which means women in counties hundreds of miles from the nearest clinic sometimes feel that they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. From the study:

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Trouble At Forest Park Medical Center: The Rest of the Story

For a while things were looking great for Forest Park Medical Center, a fast-growing chain of “luxury,” physician-owned hospitals based in Dallas. Then, one by one, the wheels began coming off the concept, with lagging revenue, missed rent payments, internal management conflicts, and the bankruptcy of its outpost in Frisco. Then, just today, news came that the company’s “flagship” hospital in North Dallas may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, too. So, how come things went so south, so fast, for Forest Park? Many of the answers can be found in Senior Editor Matt Goodman’s cover story, “The Shocking Collapse of Dallas’ Go-Go Luxury Hospital Chain,” in the latest issue of D CEO magazine. Matt dug into the situation for months for this eye-opening article, which contains insider info you won’t find anywhere else.

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Leading Off (10/22/15)

Texas health resources appeals decision in Nina Pham’s lawsuit. THR, which owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, appealed a judge’s order regarding the lawsuit filed by Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan. The judge’s ruling temporarily stops the Texas Workforce Commission from saying whether THR is a co-employer of Pham with the hospital. If THR were ruled a co-employer, the lawsuit would be categorized as a worker’s compensation claim. Pham, who got the disease a year ago, recovered but is still experiencing ongoing health issues. She maintains that THR did not appropriately train and protect its staff.

Dallas Police to expand patrol in oak lawn following violent attacks. Dallas City Council member Adam Medrano announced yesterday with the DPD that patrol would be increased in the Oak Lawn area. Medrano represents Oak Lawn and is chairman of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ LGBT task force. Residents have voiced concern about poor lighting and lack of cameras near businesses. There have been about eight incidents of assault or robbery since the beginning of September, all of which occurred late on weekend nights. Expanded patrol will include bike officers, undercover officers, and officers on foot.

Margot Winspear, RIP. The Dallas opera house namesake died Tuesday in an assisted-care facility at age 83. She and her late husband, Bill Winspear, had contributed $42 million to the building of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Winspear Opera House.

Flash flood watch for north texas begins tonight. This weekend, rain will take over for sunshine. Starting tonight, expect rain through Sunday. And with the dry state North Texas is in, we won’t complain about it.

Giant Machine That Fires Invisible Particles to Fight Cancer Tested in Irving

D Healthcare Daily was there to observe some of the earliest testing:

The treatment center is in Las Colinas and will be the first proton therapy provider in North Texas. The highly specialized form of cancer therapy uses a proton beam generated by a 220-ton machine known as a cyclotron. It travels the length of about half the football field into a treatment room, where a patient is lying. After weeks of careful imaging and planning, the physicist beams a concentrated dose of the radiation directly into the tumor, limiting exposure to healthy tissue. This is what Dr. Chang Chang, the director of physicists, and his team were testing, that the radiation would go where they want it to go and nowhere else.

“After a certain depth, you will see the reading becomes zero, just no dose at all,” Chang says. “It’s very, very amazing when you compare that with photon. If you look at photon, wherever you go, however deep you are, you’re going to get a dose.”

He’s talking about traditional radiation, which uses a photon to wage war on the cancerous tumor. But it’s not as precise as proton, meaning healthy bodily tissue is more likely to be exposed. This leads to further side effects and an increased chance in developing secondary cancer, as evidenced by a 2014 study in the Journal of Radiation Oncology. 

We live in the future, my friends.

Leading Off (8/21/15)

Parkland’s Moving Day Goes Smoothly. Hundreds of patients were taken into the new $1.3 billion complex on Thursday, as the county hospital’s operations officially began to transition away from the old building. Over on D Healthcare Daily, Matt Goodman wrote about the “slew of firsts” that racked up in short order: “The first two trauma patients at the new hospital were men in their 30s who were in a car accident. The first CareFlite helicopter landed on the helipad atop the hospital at 7:35 a.m., carrying a man in his 30s who was also hurt in a car accident. The first baby, a boy, was born via C-section at 9:40 a.m.”

Dallas Police Assistant Chief Demotes Himself. Tom Lawrence has asked Chief David Brown to reduce his rank to lieutenant. Brown says the request came after he confronted Lawrence about an inappropriate comment he’d allegedly made about a female commander. Lawrence says he’s been considering the change for six months and that the recent incident had nothing to do with it. The president of the Dallas Police Association says the unusual request — which comes with a significant pay cut — is a sign of major dissatisfaction with the department’s management.

Autistic Girl Kidnapped, Raped in Rowlett. Imagine the horror of the mother who became concerned when her daughter’s GPS tracker indicated she was in an unusual place, so she turned on the device’s microphone and could hear that the 15-year-old was being sexually assaulted at a nearby park.

Woman Stole Nearly $1 Million, Bought Roller Rink. Aurelia Anna Campbell was arrested for having embezzled $940,000 over the past seven years while working as a payroll clerk for a Bedford company. Some of the pilfered money was allegedly used to purchase the House of Quad roller derby rink in Denton, which is home to the North Texas Derby Revolution league. A body builder, investigators are also apparently looking into whether Campbell was using steroids.

Gainesville Man Indicted For 18-Year-Old Murder. Christopher Ax, 38, is charged with having killed his former girlfriend in 1997. The arrest was made after Texas Rangers took a new look at the case.

Leading Off (8/20/15)

New Parkland Hospital is Open Today. Bright and early at 6am, the Rees-Jones Trauma Center, Emergency Department, Urgent Care Emergency Department and Labor & Delivery services in the new Parkland Memorial Hospital opened at the new location, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd. Other sections of the new hospital, including intensive care units and a burn center, will gain operation over a three-day period. All inpatient services will be transferred by Saturday’s end. I, for one, would not wish to be a patient during this transition. Chaos. But the new 2.1 million-square-foot facility does look pretty.

Burn Bans Spread Across DFW like wildfire. Denton and Tarrant counties have already set up burn bans, and Dallas County will likely do so next Tuesday, which would be in effect for 90 days. Funny how the burn bans are coming on the heels of yesterday’s rain, the first since July 8. And to think, not long ago we were all hoping the downpours would desist.

Cannabis-based Smoothies Coming to a Suburb Near You. I mean, Frisco. Who would have thought? As it turns out, the AmeriCanna Cafe, a cannabis-based smoothie shop, is indeed set to open in Frisco within the year. If the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck while reading this, don’t worry. It’s perfectly legal. Apparently, the ingredients are derived from hemp seeds, while are allowed for consumption in the U.S. Smoothies will have at most only negligible traces of THC, so you will not need to worry about failing a drug test (at least not because of this smoothie).

Dallas’ First West Nile Case of 2015

A Southeast Dallas resident has contracted the mosquito-borne disease. From the city’s release today:

Dallas County Health and Human Services announced the first human West Nile Virus (WNV) case in the City of Dallas for the 2015 season. 

The resident lives in the 75217 zip code and was diagnosed with West Nile Fever. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, the City of Dallas does not provide additional identifying information.

The City’s protocol is to conduct targeted ground spraying in areas where WNV has been confirmed in mosquitoes, and in areas where trapping has indicated significant increases in the number of mosquitoes that have the potential to carry WNV.  Existing traps near the human case have not tested positive for WNV.  The City will expand surveillance and place an additional trap near the location to gain information on mosquito activity.  

The City’s mosquito control program is continually evolving to address the threat of West Nile Virus (WNV).  Public information and outreach is extensive using television, radio, billboards, brochures, and community meetings.  Additionally, a webpage at www.dallascityhall.com is dedicated to WNV information, including links to videos developed to educate the public on WNV prevention.  The City is proactively identifying sources of mosquito breeding by responding to 3-1-1 standing water, stagnant pools and water conservation complaints.  However, it is important that residents do their part by taking the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to the virus.

 

Children’s Health Is Acquiring Baylor Scott & White’s Our Children’s House

Our Children’s House is the name for Baylor Scott & White Health’s pediatric program for children with special healthcare needs. Earlier this month, Baylor, the largest nonprofit health system in the state, announced plans to stop providing inpatient services there and filed a WARN letter with the Texas Workforce Commission announcing plans to lay off 181 Our Children’s House employees. No longer: Children’s Health System of Texas has signed a binding term sheet to acquire it.

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