Health Care

Image courtesy WebMD

New research out of the University of Utah shows that the use of methamphetamine increases the risk of developing a neurological disease later in life. The study published this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence also suggests that gender may influence that risk.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A Utah mother is alive today thanks to an unusual donation by her daughter. Betty Garcia was in desperate need of a liver transplant, but she wasn’t sick enough to qualify for a liver from a deceased donor.

Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have found a way to more accurately identify a patient’s risk for often-deadly blood clots in the lungs. The research was recently published in the medical journal CHEST.

Tim Slover

That’s Utah composer Kurt Bestor performing for patients at the William E. Christofferson Salt Lake Veterans Home. He helped kick off the official launch of Music & Memory.  The program helps put iPods, headphones, and other listening equipment in nursing homes where patients live with Alzheimer’s disease

and dementia.  It also certifies healthcare workers to provide musical therapy to patients.

Norman Foster directs the Center for Alzheimer’s Care at the University of Utah. He says music can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s re-access long-forgotten memories.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  The Salt Lake County Health Department says it’s seen a sharp increase in the number of influenza cases over the past two weeks.  And state officials say a flu shot is still the best way to prevent it. 

Doctor Dagmar Vitek with the Salt Lake County Health Department says 75 people have been hospitalized with influenza over the past two weeks.  Two people have died.  And she says elderly people and others at high risk need to see a doctor right away if they have symptoms of the flu.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert officially unveiled his plan Thursday to close the coverage gap and help low income Utahns get health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Courtesy photo

Around this time of year, many of us are thinking about how we can help those who are most in need. We usually think about getting somebody a turkey or some warm clothes. Joining us in the KUER studios is somebody who has an alternative idea about ways you can make an impact. Laura Michalski is the new CEO for The Fourth Street Clinic, which provides health care to homeless Utahns. Michalski comes to Salt Lake City from Chicago, where she worked at the largest free health clinic of its kind in the country.

A regional director for US Department of Health and Human Services is in Utah to raise awareness about the second open enrollment period for health insurance.

Kim Gillan is the HHS Regional Director for six states in the Rocky Mountain region, but for the moment, her role in Utah is to be a health insurance cheerleader. Gillan says healthcare.gov is much more user friendly than it was in the first rollout and it’s operating smoothly.

  The group working to stop Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan has been fighting similar battles in other states. The Foundation for Government Accountability is hoping to defeat the plan when it goes to the Utah legislature.

Some people might think of November as the beginning of the holiday season, but for those involved in the health insurance field – it’s the beginning of another open enrollment season. Jason Stevenson of Utah Health Policy Project joins us to answer questions about health insurance this enrollment season, which begins Saturday, November 15th.

More information about open enrollment is available at Take Care Utah.

KUED

  Utah’s governor says a conservative group working against his alternative to expanding Medicaid isn’t telling the truth.  The issue came up at the governor's monthly news conference this morning.

Monday is the kick-off for an initiative to address health problems among Utah’s Pacific Islanders. In response to some of Utah’s highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and infant mortality, the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition has coordinated a series of health promotion events across the state.  

File: Primary Children's Hospital

A new multi-hospital study for patient safety, that included Primary Children’s Hospital and the University of Utah School of Medicine, confirmed a 30 percent reduction in medical errors through basic communication between healthcare workers.

Photo courtesy Karen Mathot

The state Department of Health is monitoring a Utahn who has returned from Liberia, where Ebola continues to spread. Karen Mathot has no symptoms, however, and is not expected to contract the disease. She runs a nonprofit organization called Lifting Liberia that helps fund education there. But in an interview with KUER, Mathot said the growing Ebola epidemic has become her priority. She’s just returned from a trip aimed at helping children who have been orphaned by the virus.

While the cost of healthcare continues to go up around the country, a new delivery and payment model in Utah is saving money for patients.

BioFire courtesy photo

Salt Lake company Biofire Defense has delivered Ebola test kits to Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. The company announced over the weekend that the US Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the test.

The FilmArray BioThreat-E is the first commercial Ebola test to be authorized for use on patients with symptoms of the disease. Biofire’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Wade Stevenson says the company is working fast to meet the demand. 

Courtesy of Hauenstein family

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake recently diagnosed an infant with a rare and sometimes fatal condition. A new addition to Utah’s newborn screening protocol played a role in the discovery.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert has concluded negotiations with the Obama administration on his Healthy Utah Plan, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily take effect in Utah. The state legislature still has to weigh in, and lawmakers might be hatching a different plan.

KUED

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he’s finally worked out a deal with the Obama administration on the details of his Healthy Utah plan, but he still has to get it through the Utah legislature. 

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Most people who end up in Salt Lake County jail go in with some kind of mental illness or addiction to drugs. While there, they have access to mental health treatment. They usually leave sober, but support services outside of jail are difficult to find. In the final part of our series Last Resort, KUER follows some former inmates to see what happens to them after their release.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

For those in Utah who are addicted to drugs or mentally ill, jail may be one of the only places where treatment is free and accessible. In part one of a two-part series, KUER looks at how Salt Lake County cares for its incarcerated population.

Talking to people outside the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City, you hear about job losses and the deaths of family members and friends, life events that can derail those who don’t have much of a support system, but you also hear another prevailing strain.

Whittney Evans

Local health officials say it’s highly unlikely that a person admitted to Primary Children’s hospital yesterday with Ebola-like symptoms actually has the virus. Although medical professionals used the case as an opportunity to make sure they’re prepared to handle potential Ebola cases.

Primary Children’s Hospital Epidemiologist Andrew Pavia isn’t providing any information about the patient who was admitted on Wednesday, but he says the combination of this person’s recent travel history and symptoms initially gave physicians cause for concern. 

Tim Slover

The kit contains information on symptoms of abuse; prevention tips for parents, healthcare workers, and law enforcement officials; as well as a list of substance abuse treatment centers in Ogden, and places where prescription drugs may be dropped off. Jenny Johnson is the injury prevention coordinator for the Utah

Department of Health. She says Ogden is a natural place for the toolkit to target.

File: Utah Department of Health

A massive study released Thursday by the Utah Department of Health breaks down the entire state into 63 small areas, each with their own specific health factors. The research looked at 17 different topics from suicides, and adult cigarette smoking to colon cancer screening 50+ and hospitalization from a fall. Michael Friedrichs is an epidemiologist with the department of health. He says up until now there have only been small area studies looking at individual things like cancer or injury.

Another open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance is coming up in November, and rates are going to change. State assistance insurance commissioner Tanji (TAN-jee) Northrup says premium rates increase every year along with healthcare costs. She says preliminary estimates show that premium rates for individuals will go up by about 5.7 percent on average. That’s compared to an estimated national increase of 7 percent.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert is still encountering resistance from fellow Republicans on his plan to provide health coverage to the poor. Utah Department of Health officials briefed a committee of state lawmakers Thursday on their negotiations in Washington. The Governor has said he is pleased with the outcome, but some conservative state lawmakers are still not sold on the plan to expand government assistance in Utah.

A new poll shows that Utahns don’t know very much about Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to deliver health insurance to low-income citizens. But when they learn more, they tend to support it. KUER’s Andrea Smardon took to the streets to see for herself what Utahns know and don’t know about healthcare decisions facing state lawmakers. 

Flickr: Sharyn Morrow

Utah ranks 5th in the nation for drug-poisoning deaths, according to data released this week by the Utah Department of Health. Many of those deaths are caused by opioids. But some say that could be changed with better access to treatment.

Courtesy of the University of Utah

The new Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building at the University of Utah is scheduled to open next month.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City are seeing a significant increase in respiratory illness over the past two weeks. They have identified enterovirus D-68 as the likely source of many of these illnesses.

Dr. Andrew Pavia is Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Primary Children’s Hospital. In his twenty years of experience, he says he’s has never seen this many hospitalizations for a viral disease in September.

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