IRON MOUNTAIN, MI--   The board of Dickinson County Healthcare System has approved an asset purchase agreement with Bellin Health. 

Officials say it’s the next step in a process under which Bellin is acquiring DCHS. They say the agreement is necessary for a closing statement that will need to be signed by both health systems. Bellin President and CEO George Kerwin says a substantial amount of work needs to be completed before the deal is closed.

IRON RIVER, MI--   Aspirus Iron River Hospital has been named one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the U.S. 

The rankings come from iVantage Health Analytics and the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Aspirus Ironwood was also included on the list. It and Aspirus Iron River were the only hospitals in Michigan to receive the designation.

Officials say the iVantage index measures facilities across eight pillars of hospital strength: inpatient share ranking, outpatient share ranking, cost, charge, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, and financial stability. 

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Existing medical marijuana dispensaries had until Thursday to submit applications in to a state licensing board. 

The applications had to include proof their local governments allow them to operate.

The filing allows more than 75 existing medical marijuana operations to stay in business while they wait on word whether they get state licenses. David Harns with the state medical marijuana licensing board says dispensaries that didn’t meet the deadline are probably out of luck.

MADISON, WI (AP)--   The Wisconsin Assembly plans to vote on a bill creating a pilot program to prohibit the use of food stamps for purchasing junk food.

The bill up for a vote Thursday would require the state to identify food and beverages that don't have sufficient nutritional value and restrict the use of FoodShare benefits to purchase them.

A federal waiver to conduct the program would likely be needed.

Opponents argue such restrictions will not improve the health of food stamp recipients, would be costly to administer and increase the cost of food.

UPDATE:  Northern Michigan University received the results from one of the independent labs tests Thursday afternoon that revealed lead levels well below the legal limits. The comprehensive water testing included multiple samples from the hot, cold and culinary water systems in the Jacobetti Complex.

The building will remain closed Friday, February 16, to allow the maintenance staff the opportunity to flush the water systems as an additional precaution. The building will be open Saturday for regular business.

LANSING, MI (AP)--   Michigan officials say a resident of the Upper Peninsula is the first child in the state to die from the flu this season. 

No other details were disclosed Wednesday by the state health department. The department says it's not too late to get a flu shot, especially children and people who are 65 or older. Dr. Eden Wells says the vaccine is the "best defense."

More than 50 children in the U.S. have died from the flu during the 2017-2018 season. The state says 44 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated during the 2016-2017 season.

MARQUETTE, MI--   The Marquette County Health Department is offering residents free radon kits this month. 

January is National Radon Action Month. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas that enters homes through the foundation. It occurs naturally due to the decay of uranium in soil and rock. The Centers for Disease Control says exposure to radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Officials say testing is the only way to know if you’re at risk for health issues caused by radon.

MARQUETTE, MI--   The United Way of Marquette County is now accepting applications for groups wanting to be part of the fall 2018 campaign. 

Nonprofit agencies and organizations have until January 22 to apply. Only

501(c)3 health and human service organizations are eligible. They must provide services related to identified need areas such as youth programs, medical assistance/ health care programs, and elderly citizens and adults with disabilities.

For an application call the United Way at 226-8171, or email a request to 

ISHPEMING, MI--   The March of Dimes has recognized UPHS-Bell for its work to give babies a healthier start in life.

The hospital earned the recognition after reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy to less than one percent. The March of Dimes says it’s a tremendous accomplishment.

LANSING, MI (AP)--   Michigan State Police say a program to help people struggling with drug addiction is now available at all 30 of its posts. 

The Angel Program allows people to walk into a post during regular business hours and seek help without fear of arrest or investigation.

If that individual is accepted into the Angel Program, a professional assesses and places them in a drug treatment program. A community volunteer known as an "angel" provides support and transportation during the process.