Jackie Farwell

Jackie Farwell

Health Editor

Jackie Farwell of Gorham is the health care editor for the Bangor Daily News. Farwell began her career with the newspaper after graduating from the University of Maine's journalism program in 2004. She left in 2006 for a job with The Associated Press in New York, later returning to Maine to become a senior writer at business magazine Mainebiz. Farwell rejoined the Bangor Daily News in 2011 and works from the Portland area. She covers health issues that directly affect Maine residents.

What do you really know about ALS, the #IceBucketChallenge?

on Aug. 16, 2014, at 7:26 a.m.
This guest post was contributed by BDN Portland Bureau Chief Seth Koenig. The ice bucket challenge has been impossible to miss if you’ve spent any time on the Internet over the past week or two. Famous actors, businessmen, politicians and athletes – as well as just about everyone else – …

State reports spike in whooping cough diagnoses in northern, eastern Maine

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 15, 2014, at 5:10 p.m.
Whooping cough has sickened a rising number of children in northern and eastern Maine, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The highly contagious respiratory infection has hit Washington County the hardest, at a rate of 115 cases per 100,000 residents, six times the statewide average. Six …

Vital Signs: Maine records spike in tick-borne diseases

on Aug. 14, 2014, at 11:27 a.m.
Many Mainers know about Lyme disease. But the deer tick that spreads the increasingly prevalent infection can also harbor several other diseases in its tiny eight-legged body. Maine has confirmed 103 cases of the bacterial infection anaplasmosis this year, already exceeding the 94 cases recorded in all of 2013. Anaplasmosis can lead to similar long-term effects as …

1,200 Maine consumers could lose Obamacare coverage for failure to prove legal residency

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 13, 2014, at 1:02 p.m.
About 1,200 Maine consumers who signed up for insurance through Healthcare.gov failed to submit proof that they legally reside in the U.S., putting their coverage at risk, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday. The Maine consumers were among 310,000 nationally identified with “inconsistencies” in their applications. …

How to prevent a tick bite

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 12, 2014, at 9:58 p.m.
1. Choose light-colored clothing so it’s easier to spot ticks; wear long sleeves and and tuck your pants into your socks. 2. Use insect repellent with DEET on your skin and apply permethrin, a common insecticide, to your clothes. 3. Check your skin and clothing for ticks and remove them …

Maine records spike in diseases carried by ticks, not just Lyme

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 12, 2014, at 9:57 p.m.
An emerging infection carried by the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease has sickened a record number of Mainers this year, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While rarely fatal, the disease can cause serious illness if left untreated. So far in 2014, Maine has confirmed …

Robin Williams’ death highlights sharp rise in suicides among baby boomers

on Aug. 12, 2014, at 12:01 p.m.
Robin Williams’ death from an apparent suicide has the nation talking about a public health problem we often avoid. Suicide now claims more American lives each year than car crashes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 100 people die from suicide every day in …
Mikeal Van Mierlo, 11, (from top) Danika Hluska, 10, Anneke Van Mierlo, 7, and Matheo Van Mierlo, 11, perform an areal stunt at a Circus Atlantic class in Yarmouth on Thursday. Circus Atlantic is the recreational arm of the Circus Conservatory of America.

Come one, come all: Harvard-trained former mime researches health benefits of circus arts

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 11, 2014, at 1:33 p.m.
YARMOUTH | Mikeal Van Mierlo grasps two sticks, one in each hand, connected by a long string. In the middle, the 11-year-old balances an hourglass-shaped rubber “diabolo,” a pair of cups joined at the base by a narrow spool. He furiously pumps his hands, spinning the diabolo back and …

Maine medical malpractice insurer records big drop in claims, but attorney says system is stacked against patients

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 08, 2014, at 12:32 p.m.
The company that insures most Maine doctors and hospitals against malpractice has seen claims drop by more than half over the past decade, citing improved care and communication with patients among the many reasons. But one of the state’s most experienced medical malpractice lawyers argues that Maine law favors doctors …

Vital Signs: EMHS in talks to add Ellsworth hospital

on Aug. 07, 2014, at 10:04 a.m.
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is again expanding its footprint, less than a year after adding Portland’s Mercy Health System of Maine to its collection of hospitals. Now, the Brewer-based health system is in talks to bring Maine Coast Memorial Hospital into the fold, a move that would mark the end of the …
Curt Spalding, New England regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, talks about clean air and global warming in Portland.

‘The air is bad’: Mainers support new limits on power plant emissions

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 06, 2014, at 4:14 p.m.
PORTLAND | Dr. Tony Owens stood before a federal environmental regulator Wednesday and described his most recent shift in the emergency department at Maine Medical Center. “I worked my shift in the ED yesterday and admitted three people with respiratory problems: an asthmatic, a COPD patient and a young …

EMHS in talks to add Ellsworth hospital to system

By Jackie Farwell on Aug. 05, 2014, at 2:03 p.m.
Maine Coast Memorial Hospital is considering joining Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, a move that would mark the end of the Ellsworth hospital’s nearly 60 years as an independent organization. Maine Coast Memorial and Brewer-based EMHS, the state’s second-largest health system, signed a letter of intent Monday, according …

Don’t panic about Ebola patients stopping in Bangor

on Aug. 05, 2014, at 9:06 a.m.
A second American aid worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa landed at Bangor International Airport this morning, aboard a medical transport plane stopping to refuel.  Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, the expected passenger, was on her way from Liberia to be treated by infectious disease specialists in a special isolation …

Is your antibacterial soap safe? UMaine researchers study common ingredient

on Aug. 01, 2014, at 12:21 p.m.
Examine the label on one of the many antibacterial products in your home, and you’ll likely find “triclosan” listed as an ingredient. The antimicrobial chemical was once used only in hospitals, but in the 1990s manufacturers began adding it to soaps, body washes, toothpaste, deodorants, facial cleansers, and countless other personal …

How much, Doc? New laws aim to help Maine consumers understand medical bills

By Jackie Farwell on July 31, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
Sashie Misner of Harrison took her 16-year-old son to the local hospital last fall for an inflamed appendix. With no health insurance, she knew she’d get hit with a bill. She asked what their options were and how much to expect. Her son was in stable condition, so Misner inquired …

Vital Signs: 10 years of tracking prescription pills

on July 31, 2014, at 12:12 p.m.
Maine’s prescription monitoring program turns 10 years old this month. Upon its founding in July 2004, Maine envisioned the potential to identify patients who “doctor shop” — visiting multiple medical practices to score narcotics and other drugs — and prevent the diversion and abuse of painkillers. After a decade of monitoring in …

Two Mainers who recently visited Caribbean sickened by chikungunya virus

By Jackie Farwell on July 30, 2014, at 5:43 p.m.
Two Maine residents who recently traveled to the Caribbean returned home with the chikungunya virus, marking the state’s first cases of the mosquito-borne infection in 2014. The individuals — a man from Kennebec County and a woman from Oxford County —- had traveled separately to the Dominican Republic, according to …
These household products, among many others, contain chemicals call phthalates, which are potentially toxic.

Dozens call on Maine to regulate chemicals found in plastic household products

By Jackie Farwell on July 29, 2014, at 3:08 p.m.
AUGUSTA | More than 70 people called on the LePage administration Tuesday to require disclosure of potentially dangerous chemicals commonly found in consumer products. At a hearing before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, parents, doctors, business owners and public health experts asked the agency to step up regulation …

Pain as the fifth vital sign: VA initiative reshaped treatment approaches

on July 29, 2014, at 8:33 a.m.
In the practice of medicine, four measurements have long served as indicators of the body’s basic functions: pulse, breathing, temperature, and blood pressure. In 1999, the Veterans Health Administration — the country’s largest government-run health care system — proposed a fifth vital sign: pain. The concept was initially promoted by the …

Prescription tracking at 10: Maine police, doctors, lawmakers disagree on more stringent monitoring, even as drug abuse picture improves

By Jackie Farwell on July 27, 2014, at 6:01 a.m.
Part 2 of a 2-part series Brent Gallant will never forget the moment that launched his 15 years of prescription drug addiction. “I remember the first day I took a Vicodin, to a tee,” says the 44-year-old lobsterman from Brunswick. It was nearly two decades ago. Gallant worked for a …
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