HJAR May/Jun 2020

HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS I  MAY / JUN 2020 31 For weekly eNews updates and to read the journal online, visit HealthcareJournalAR.com reasons, including better perceived effectiveness, improvement in symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain, and improvement in overall wellbe- ing,” Toloza said. Toloza is a postdoctoral researcher and Maraka is an assistant professor, both in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Depart- ment of Internal Medicine, UAMS College of Medicine. Maraka is also a staff physician at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Both are also research collaborators at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. They conducted this study using comments from online patient forums, where they found that people who chose desiccated thyroid extract (DTE) said this option was more effective than other thyroid hormone medications. Com- ments on DTE use most frequently mentioned an improvement in symptoms and overall well- being as benefits. This alternative treatment — also known as nature thyroid, thyroid USP, or Armour thyroid — is made from dehydrated pig thyroid glands. An estimated 10-25 percent of people with hypo- thyroidism — an underactive thyroid — use this treatment. They noted that nearly half (45 percent) of peo- ple who commented about using DTE reported that a health care provider initially drove their interest in trying DTE, even though it is not an approved treatment. Hypothyroidism affects 0.5-2 percent of the U.S. population. Levothyroxine (LT4), a synthetic thy- roid hormone, is the recommended treatment for patients with hypothyroidism. These researchers analyzed the online forums in order to better understand patient prefer- ences and attitudes. They used the 10 most pop- ular patient forums and selected 673 posts for analysis. Patients described many reasons for switching from a previous thyroid treatment to DTE, includ- ing lack of improvement in symptoms (58 percent) and the development of side effects (22 percent). Among a majority of patients, DTE was described as moderately-to-majorly effective overall (81 per- cent) and more effective than other thyroid hor- mone medications (77 percent). The most fre- quently described benefits associated with DTE use were an improvement in symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain (56 percent), as well as a change in overall well-being (34 percent). One- fifth of people also described side effects related to the use of DTE. “The findings underscore the need for clinicians to individualize therapy approaches for hypothy- roidism,” Toloza said. Baptist Health Foundation Receives More Than $130,000 to Fund COVID-19 Testing Equipment inWestern Region Baptist Health Foundation has received two donations totaling more than $130,000 to fund coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing equip- ment for the Western Region. An anonymous organization awarded $98,000 and the Fort Smith-based Good Neighbor Foun- dation, voluntarily funded by Baptist Health employees in the Western Region, donated $33,000 toward the Cepheid testing system. “Our organizations have an important com- monality, which is a strong commitment to our community. Vital partnerships, like these, will help Baptist Health continue to respond to the changing health needs of our state by providing innovative and quality care,” said Lena Moore, chief development officer of Baptist Health Foundation. The Cepheid testing technology will allow Bap- tist Health-Fort Smith, Baptist Health-Van Buren and affiliated clinics in the region to detect COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in-house within the same day. Cepheid has a history of responding quickly and working with global health organizations to help manage infectious disease outbreaks, such as the Ebola virus and 2009 H1N1 influenza. DHS Encouraging People to Apply Online for Services Rather than in Person Arkansans applying for Medicaid, food assis- tance, and other programs are encouraged to do so online or by phone rather than in-person dur- ing this public health emergency. People apply- ing in-person may experience longer than usual wait times because the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is limiting the number of people in office lobbies at one time. DHS also is requesting federal approval to change some of its processes to reduce the need for in-person contact. “Our offices are open because people need the services we provide, but we want to do our part in flattening the curve of this virus,” said DHS Sec- retary Cindy Gillespie. “We’ve worked quickly to implement a number of strategies that will help with that. We want to do everything we can to keep people safe.” Gillespie said that many people are still showing up to apply for benefits in-person, and that it is important that they know they have other options. Strategies DHS is using to flatten the curve while still providing critical services include: • Encouraging people to apply at www. Access.Arkansas.gov or on the phone by calling (855) 372-1084. • Implementing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about social distancing by keeping people in the lobby at least six feet apart. • Adding drop boxes in all of DHS’s 84 county offices so that people can leave completed applications that need to be processed without needing to meet face-to-face. Applicants can download a paper appli- cation on our website. They also can find paper applications and forms near the drop boxes. • Conducting required interviews for the Sup- plemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by phone rather than in-person. • Requesting federal approval to temporarily waive the requirement for a physical signa- ture for SNAP and Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) applications. Asking people who are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to not come into the office until they are well. Washington Regional Announces Dedicated Respiratory Illness Clinic Washington Regional has dedicated its Urgent Care location in the William L. Bradley Medical Plaza at 3 E. Appleby Road in Fayetteville to the treatment of individuals who have respiratory ill- ness, but who DO NOT meet the testing criteria at the Coronavirus Screening Clinic. Upon arrival