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Health Notes

Opioids affecting rural births

The opioid epidemic affects rural communities as well as urban, including in the delivery room.

That's the gist of of research by a University of Minnesota researcher whose study was published in the Journal of Rural Health.

The university's public relations bureau reports on the study authored by Katy Kozhimannil, director of the university's Rural Health Research Center.

"Some of these rural moms, especially those with clinical complications, give birth in urban, teaching hospitals, often far from home," Kozhimannil was quoted as saying in the news release. "Yet our study findings show that more than 60 percent of rural moms with opioid use disorder give birth locally."

Kozhimannil's study examined maternal and infant records for childbirths to rural residents from 2007-14, including close to 950,000 rural moms and close to a million rural babies.

She found that opioid-affected births are increasing among rural residents.

That means rural hospitals need resources to care for their moms, Kozhimannil suggests.

The news release doesn't touch on the fact that often, rural hospitals with birthing centers simply aren't available. In the Northland, Ely Bloomenson Hospital and Grand Marais' Cook County North Shore Hospital both ended labor and delivery services in July 2015.

It's the water (bottles)

Two Northland locations are among 16 statewide to get Minnesota Department of Health grants for water bottle-filling stations, the health department reports in a news release.

The stations, which are being seen increasingly on college campuses, health facilities and other locations, provide a free, convenient way for people to refill their reusable water bottles.

The Northland locations are at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency in Virginia and the International Falls Bronco Arena.

"Drinking plenty of water and fewer sugar-sweetened drinks helps improve and maintain your health," state health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in the news release. "We're pleased to see so many communities promoting health by making it easier for everyone to choose clean, safe tap water."

Help with Medicare offered

MN Citizens Federation NE, based in Duluth, is offering classes for people considering their Medicare choices.

Times, dates and locations are:

• 2 p.m. Thursday, Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E.

• 7 p.m. Monday, Peace United Church of Christ.

• 2 p.m. Nov. 13, Portman Center, 4601 McCulloch St.

• 2 p.m. Nov. 14, Evergreen Senior Center, 5830 Grand Ave.

• 2 p.m. Nov. 15, Good Fellowship Community Center, 1242 88th Ave W.

• 2 p.m. Nov. 19, Hope United Methodist Church, 301 W. St. Marie St.

• 10 a.m. Nov. 21, Proctor Community Center, 100 Pionk Drive.

The fee for the 90-minute seminar is $25 per household. The agency also offers individual counseling with a fee of $40 per household for a one-hour session, by appointment.

To register or learn more, call (218) 727-0207 or email