March 4, 2015

ISU study looks at divorce rates related to illness

Amelia Karraker

Amelia Karraker

A new Iowa State University study looking at the divorce rate in older adults has found that the chance of a marriage dissolving increases by 6-percent if a wife experiences a serious illness. However, if the husband becomes seriously ill, there’s no increase in the chances of a divorce.

The lead author of the study, Amelia Karraker, says while the data doesn’t reveal whether it is more often the husband or wife who initiates divorce, the fact men aren’t traditionally socialized as caregivers could have an impact.

“So, for women traditionally, caregiving is something that women do throughout their lives. Men, it’s maybe less normative, and less comfortable and potentially more stressful,” Karraker says. Since older women outnumber men, Karraker says it’s possible that men are more inclined to seek a healthier spouse, and therefore file for divorce.


Le Mars steakhouse wins national recognition

Archie's owner Bob Rand.

Archie’s owner Bob Rand.

A Le Mars steakhouse is being nationally recognized for its good food and longevity. Archie’s Waeside is one of five eateries nationwide that will be honored in May with awards from the James Beard Foundation.

Owner, Bob Rand, says his restaurant has won what’s called the “American Classic” award. “That award is given to restaurants that have a very long time span and they withstand all the rigors of the things that restaurants go through to survive six or seven decades like Archie’s has,” Rand says.

Rand says the foundation has a panel of experts that look at restaurants and help decide the national food honors. He says the experts give the information to the foundation and the foundation sends out committees that do blind tests of restaurants and they keep narrowing down the field until the have a final vote. The steakhouse owner claims it is the commitment of the people, both the employees and the guests, that makes the local eatery so special.

He says they have some employees who have been working there for 50 years and some who have put in 20 to 35 years. “Which is really a long time in a restaurant to be working, which is great,” Rand says. “My mom ran the restaurant for a long time, so in the 66 years a lot of right things had to happen to be around this long. But the main thing is, that we have so many customers who continually come back and support us, and they are like family to us.”

A film production crew will be shooting video for the award presentation on March 13th and Rand is inviting the folks from Le Mars to dine at Archie’s that evening.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)


Turning the clock forward could lead to sleep issues

clockYou will need to set your clock forward an hour before heading to bed this Saturday night as we return to Daylight Saving Time. For some people, it’ll be a very tough adjustment to lose an hour of sleep.

Doctor Stephen Grant is a board-certified sleep physician at Iowa Sleep, which specializes in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Dr. Grant says most of his patients get six to seven hours of sleep a night.

“The bell curve shows a median value of eight but we know that 50% of people need more than eight hours and 50% of people can get away with less than eight hours,” Grant says. “If patients are sleepy during the day or require naps, they are clearly sleep insufficient.”

One technique which he suggests may help make losing an hour of sleep less difficult is to gradually ease into the time change. “Instead of going to bed at maybe ten o’clock at night, going to bed at 9:45, then 9:30, then 9:15 and then 9 o’clock in the seven-to-ten day period leading up to the time change,” Grant says. “It makes the adjustment a lot easier for patients.”

Studies find more than a third of adults don’t always get the amount of sleep they need to feel their best. “I’m always surprised,” Grant says. “Some people can do very well with time changes and perhaps those are people who do well with jet lag or traveling into time zones, and some individuals really struggle with time change.” There are about 80 different types of sleep disorders, the most common of which include: insomnia, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and apnea, where a person’s airways narrow or collapse during sleep.

Grant says the majority of his time is spent with patients who have apnea, or sleep disorder breathing. He says the bad habits may have started six months ago. “Patients when they fall back in the time change around fall, may notice that when it’s time to go to bed, they’re not sleepy,” Grant says. “They’re an hour earlier than what they should be and they may spend a lot of time in bed, awake. That can set the tone for some poor sleep hygiene or for some habits that may develop that can lead to difficulties falling asleep.”

This is Sleep Awareness Week. A new poll from the National Sleep Foundation finds pain, stress and poor health all correlate to shorter sleep durations and worse sleep quality for millions of Americans.



Bill seeks financial disclosure on traffic camera tickets

Todd Taylor

Todd Taylor

Iowa cities with traffic enforcement cameras would be required to disclose on the tickets how the money from the fines is spent if a bill to be considered by the House Transportation Committee becomes law. Representative Todd Taylor lives in Cedar Rapids, where traffic cameras were installed along Interstate 380 five years ago, and he’s co-sponsoring the bill.

“I just want it disclosed how much goes to the city, how much goes to the vendor,” Taylor says.

The companies that installed the traffic cameras in Iowa are paid millions for employing people to monitor video and issue tickets to speeders and those who run red lights. Taylor suspects if those paying the fines realized how much the vendors are getting, city officials might be pressured to strike deals that devote more of the money to the city.

“I just want it to be disclosed,” Taylor says. “Where does it go?”

Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls, is a vocal opponent of traffic cameras in general and he’s the bill’s other co-sponsor.

“There’s obviously a lot of tickets being issued,” Rogers says. “…The average (member of the) public is out there and they get a ticket, they say, ‘Oh, I’ll just pay it,’ but if there’s a chance to look at the ticket and see, ‘Oh, this money’s going here and there,’ that might raise a little more awareness and consternation about what’s happening.”

Rogers says that kind of “education” about traffic cameras could eventually build more public outrage about traffic cameras and, ultimately, lead to passage of legislation that would ban the cameras. Bills to ban traffic cameras have stalled in the Iowa legislature for the past several years and this is the only bill eligible for debate in 2014 that deals with the subject.

It’s ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ Day

R-Word-LogoThe old phrase about “sticks and stones” ends with “words will never hurt me,” but a campaign underway today in Iowa and nationwide focuses on how using words like “retarded” -can- hurt.

Rik Shannon, with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says the R-word is unacceptable and that’s the message on this “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day.

“Some of the language we use, specifically the word retarded, is pretty hurtful and insensitive to people, particularly with intellectual disabilities,” Shannon says. “This is really an effort to raise awareness and change the way people think about the language that they use.” The goal is for people to select language that’s more respectful and inclusive and Shannon says the message is getting through.

“It has had an impact and there’s been a lot of support for it,” Shannon says. “There have been changes in policy at both the state and federal level where we’ve removed term like ‘mentally retarded’ and ‘retarded’ from codes and replaced them with ‘intellectual disability’.” President Obama signed what’s called Rosa’s Law in 2010, which removed the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal code language and replaced it with terms such as an “individual with an intellectual disability,” or simply “intellectual disability.”

While progress is being made, Shannon says there’s still much work to do. “Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to legislate attitudes,” Shannon says. “That’s what we’re trying to do with Spread the Word to End the Word Day.” There are almost 50,000 people in Iowa with intellectual disabilities. Shannon says those people, their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers, all deserve the same respect.



Dubuque men going to prison for meth lab fire that destroyed apartment

gavel-thumbnailTwo eastern Iowa men will spend a total of 25 years in federal prison for an apartment fire that was started by a meth lab. Court documents show 47-year-old John Starks Senior and 25-year-old Casey Duhme were working together to cook meth in their Dubuque apartment in February of 2014 when things caught fire. They fled the apartment building, which is located across from an elementary school, and did not call the fire department.

A police officer passing by noticed the smoke and got other residents out of their apartments moments before the roof of the entire building collapsed. Many of the people in the apartments lost everything in the fire and one was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Both men pled guilty to conspiracy to manufacture meth near a school. Starks was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Duhme was given nine years.

The were ordered to pay $322,000 in restitution to the owner of the building, the other tenants and the insurance company.


Bill requires doctors to offer to show, describe ultrasound to women seeking an abortion

Norm Pawlewski

Norm Pawlewski

A bill that would require doctors to perform an ultrasound and offer to both show and describe the image to a woman seeking an abortion has cleared a subcommittee in the Iowa House. Norm Pawlewski, a lobbyist for the Iowa Right to Life Committee and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, is the former director of the Iowa Department of Human Services. He calls it a “health care bill.”

“It not only protects the mother, but it protects the physician as well,” Pawlewski says, “makes sure that what they’re doing is appropriate for the age of the gestation of the child.”

Tom Chapman, a lobbyist for the Iowa Catholic Conference, says it will help a woman make an “informed” decision about an abortion.

“If there are bad actors who are not doing this sort of procedure before an abortion, I think this bill would help with that,” Chapman says.

Erin Davison-Rippey, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, says performing an ultrasound is already standard practice for doctors, but having legislators dictate the conversation a doctor has with a patient is a step too far.

“It feels like an effort to shame a woman who has made a decision to end her pregnancy,” Davison-Rippey says. “This bill sends the message that we don’t trust a woman to make decisions about her health care and that we don’t trust a physician to provide appropriate information.”

If the bill becomes law, doctors who fail to offer to show and describe the ultrasound to a woman seeking an abortion could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, says it’s “dangerous” for legislators to set that kind of precedent.

“This is moving us backwards to believing that women don’t understand what happens when they become pregnant,” she says. “…This is shaming and it’s demeaning.”

Joel Fry

Joel Fry

Representative Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, says a doctor is seeing “two patients” when a pregnant woman is in his office.

“I believe that child has, needs, deserves to have the opportunity to also have a voice in this medical arena,” Fry says.

The bill has a strong chance of passing the Republican-led House this year, but it’s unlikely to become law. Democrats control the debate agenda in the Iowa Senate and the bill is not likely to be considered there.