Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Private chats become the new suicide hotline on Facebook — VentureBeat



Author’s comment….

A few years back I was in a Yahoo chat room conversing with someone who suddenly started talking about his suicidal thoughts.
Very quickly I was able to get ahold of a suicide hotline number and pass it on to him. He thanked me and left the room.
To this day I think about him, wondering if he called, and if he is OK……


Private chats become the new suicide hotline on Facebook 

From the 15 December 2011 Forbes article

Facebook unveiled a suicide prevention tool to give users a direct link to online counselors, illustrating the social network’s efforts to expand its role in responding to crises.

With the feature, friends can report suspected suicidal behavior by clicking a button next to any piece of content on Facebook. Users select “suicidal content” under the harmful behavior menu, prompting Facebook to email a direct link to the distressed user for a private online chat with a crisis representative from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The tool provides help to those who may not be comfortable picking up the phone or seeking other direct avenues for assistance.

The concerned friends, whose reporting of the behavior will be anonymous, will also receive a message that the issue is being addressed, according to Facebook, which will offer the tool for users in the U.S. and Canada.

The tool formalizes Facebook’s past assistance to users in times of distress. This summer, a Florida woman reportedly used Facebook to call for help after breaking her leg, and Facebook helped a Tennessee woman without a phone contact police after a robbery, illustrating the growing role social networks play in public safety.

In addition to these anecdotal uses, Facebook has been pursuing official ways the social network can help those in natural disasters and other crises….

The role Facebook played likely prompted the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, to explore how social media can help in federal efforts to help prepare and deal with such emergencies.

The HHS is developing a text message service that local authorities can broadcast to inform people during emergencies.

December 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

HHS Offers New Tool for Medical School Students to Learn, Detect Medicare Fraud

From a November 8, 2010 US Health and Humans Services (HHS) news release

The Department of Health & Human Service’s Office of Inspector General has released a new tool geared toward educating medical school students on Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse laws, according to a news report byThe Hill.

The tool is a booklet, titled “Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Abuse,” that will be delivered to medical schools across the country. The booklet covers education on specific fraud and abuse laws and physician relationships with payors, other providers and vendors.

The booklet’s release follows an OIG report that suggested medical school students aren’t adequately trained on healthcare fraud law.

Read The Hill‘s news report about the OIG’s “Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Abuse.”

Read other coverage about healthcare fraud reports:

– WSJ: AMA Keeping Data on Physicians and Individual Healthcare Providers Confidential

– Report: Number of Suspected New York Medicaid Fraud Cases Doubled Since Last Year

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

HHS announces a major new investment in community health centers

From a news release by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (October 8, 2010)

Friday, October 8, 2010
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

HHS announces a major new investment in community health centers

More than $727 million in grants from the Affordable Care Act
to upgrade and expand community health centers
Funds will provide care for an additional 745,000 underserved patients

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced awards of $727 million to 143 community health centers across the country to address pressing construction and renovation needs and expand access to quality health care.  The funds are the first in a series of awards that will be made available to community health centers under the Affordable Care Act.

Community health centers serve nearly 19 million patients, about 40 percent of whom have no health insurance. Community health centers deliver preventive and primary care services at more than 7,900 service delivery sites around the country to patients regardless of their ability to pay; charges for services are set according to income.

“There is no question that the economic downturn has made it harder for some Americans to get health care and important preventive services.  Community Health Centers provide quality healthcare services to Americans across the country but are a life line for those who have lost coverage or are between jobs.  These funds from the Affordable Care Act will help get more people care in some communities where there have not been many options in the past,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The newly constructed or expanded community health centers will provide care to an additional 745,000 patients and much needed employment opportunities in both rural and urban underserved communities.”

The Capital Development (CD) program grants, administered by HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will support major construction and renovation at 143 community health centers nationwide.  This builds on the more than $2 billion investment in community health centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A state by state list of Recovery Act investments in community health centers is available at

“Many of these community health centers need more modern space to meet the increasing patient demand for services. These funds will help community health centers build new facilities and modernize their current sites in their continuing effort to provide the best care possible to more and more people in need,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N.

Over the next five years, the Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers across the country.  This expansion of sites and services will help community health centers to serve nearly double the number of patients receiving care, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

For more information on HRSA’s community health center program, visit

Information on the Affordable Care Act is available at  A list of awards by state can be found at



October 17, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , | Leave a comment


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