Regional News in Review - February 2011

New service helps emergency responders     

Time is of the essence in an emergency. Sometimes a few minutes can make the difference in whether a person lives or dies. For people with disabilities needing accessible and adapted emergency services, precious time is wasted if emergency responders do not have the information they need before they arrive at the scene.   

To address this need, the St. Paul Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center have developed a form for use by Ramsey County residents with disabilities. This form allows a person with a disability living in Ramsey County to inform the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center of any special conditions, medications, and/or allergies that should be taken into account by emergency responders. It also informs the Emergency Communications Center of medical contacts and of trusted individuals that can assist police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel in entering or securing the individual’s home during an emergency.   

This form is now available and should be filled out as soon as possible, before an emergency ever occurs. If there is an emergency, the Emergency Communications Center will have the emergency response information available to assist with the emergency response.   

The Residential Emergency Response Information Form can be found at: www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ecc/What_to_expect.htm. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Residential Emergency Response Information Form.” [Source: Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office]



Try out new digital radios   

Radio Talking Book (RTB), a program of Minnesota State Services for the Blind, continues to implement its new digital radios. There are currently six transmission sites in Minnesota where listeners can use new digital radios: Thief River Falls, Warroad and Roseau, Bemidji, Moorhead, Saint Cloud, and Austin. Any customers of the Radio Talking Book who live in those areas should have received a new digital radio by now.   

According to RTB staff, reports back are very positive. The next area to receive radios will most likely be International Falls.   

The old analog radios eventually will not work so listeners should set up and turn on their new digital receivers as soon as they receive them. RTB has already removed the analog signal from Thief River Falls and the analog signal to Bemidji, Moorhead, Saint Cloud and Austin will be dropped soon.   

The new digital radio has a different antenna than the old one. The new antenna is a flexible wire antenna that needs to be plugged into the back of the radios and stretched out to resemble a large letter T. If that doesn’t happen, and the wire antenna drapes on the floor, there is the possibility that it will get caught up in a vacuum cleaner or cause problems in other ways. For customers in fringe listening areas, a rabbit ear style of antenna can be supplied which provides more signal reception and might make an otherwise intermittent signal solid.

If users have difficulties with their new radios, call Chris at 651-642-0885. [Source: Radio Talking Book]



Man who tracked down bike dies   

Brad Rogers, a north Minneapolis man who became the subject of media attention after he tracked down his own stolen bicycle despite near total paralysis from ALS, has died. The 44-year-old died January 26. The story of the stolen bike might not have garnered much attention if it weren’t for what it revealed about Rogers, a man who lived with grace and humor while celebrating what he had rather than what he had lost.   

When he learned in February 2007 that his aching left arm was the first manifestation of a fatal illness, it was a surprise, but one he did his best to accept. “I didn’t get mad about it,” he told the Star Tribune.   

A group of friends known as “Brad’s Brigade” helped make his life easier, with a home renovation project. Rogers created a website to share news of his health and the family’s adjustment.   

When his oldest daughter burst into the house on a Saturday morning last fall with news that his much-loved Italian bike had been stolen from the family’s back yard, Rogers went online and within minutes found it listed in the lost and found section of Craigslist. He wanted his kids to have the bike after he died, and he was happy to get it back.   

Rogers passed away from what was believed to be a stroke. Donations for the family can go to their church. Please send to Rogers Family, c/o St. Bridget’s Outreach Fund, 3811 Emerson Av. N., Minneapolis, MN, 55412. [Source: Star Tribune]



Mother charged with neglect   

A St. Paul woman has been charged with a gross misdemeanor neglect of a vulnerable adult, after ignoring her disabled son’s medical needs. Christine Ruth Nelson, 61, had resisted medical professionals’ recommendations that her son be hospitalized for treatment. Her son had severely burned his foot.   

Nelson’s son, who is not publicly identified, is 35 years old. He is autistic and has developmental delays. He can’t speak but can communicate a little by pointing to letters and making some sounds. His parents were his conservators, and therefore had the legal right to make his medical decisions.   

The son stepped on something July 2 while walking barefoot outside with his mother but his mother didn’t take him to a doctor until July 29. Nelson refused to have her son hospitalized and instead took him to medical clinics and emergency rooms five times between August 5 and October 11. Each time, the wound got worse. A home health care nurse visited the Nelson home nine times between Aug. 21 and Sept. 16. The nurse also told Nelson her son should be in the hospital.   

The wound was found to be gangrenous during an emergency room trip October 26. Nelson’s son was found to be malnourished, dehydrated and moaning in apparent distress. He underwent emergency surgery and had his right leg amputated to the knee. After weeks in the hospital, he was transferred to an adult care facility. He has a new guardian.   

Court documents said Nelson refused treatment for her son, saying he “doesn’t like the hospital.” Last fall, more than three months after the initial injury, doctors were forced to amputate Nelson’s son’s leg.   

“This is a case where the charges are unbelievably serious,” said St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing told the Star Tribune. “Unfortunately in Minnesota, neglect of a vulnerable adult is just a gross misdemeanor. It’s something we’re working on for this legislative session.” The City Attorney’s office is also looking into why the apparent neglect was not reported by medical professionals until November 2010. Nelson is to appear in court Feb. 17. [Source: Star Tribune]  



Autism, study in Somalis underway   

Federal health officials and Autism Speaks, a national group, are going to study concerns that there is an unusually high rate of childhood autism in Minnesota’s Somali community. 

Autism Speaks announced the study in January. The advocacy group will help fund a study with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. The study is expected to cost $400,000.   

“There have been concerns about higher prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Minneapolis’ Somali population,” said Geraldine Dawson, the chief science officer of Autism Speaks. “We believe it is important to verify if a true increase in prevalence exists, and if so, why it exists.”   

The question came up a few years ago in a look at Minneapolis Somali children. In 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health looked into the issue and found “a significantly higher” proportion of Somali children in the schools’ autism classes. But officials couldn’t determine if rate of autism was actually higher.   

Idil Abdull of Burnsville, co-founder of the Somali American Autism Foundation, said she hopes the new study will help resolve the issue.   

“Let’s let the numbers do the talking,” she told the Star Tribune. “If we’re the same as everybody else, they can rest. But I just feel like … there is something wrong in our community.” [Source: Star Tribune]

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