Health Care

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.

New Healthcare Model Saves Money for Utah Patients

Oct 29, 2014

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 Ships Ebola Test Kits to New York

Oct 27, 2014
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. 

Last Resort: Alternatives to Incarceration

Oct 7, 2014
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.

Last Resort: Mental Healthcare Behind Bars

Oct 6, 2014
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.

Utah Health Premiums to Increase 5.7 Percent

Sep 18, 2014

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. 

Drug Poisoning Deaths Remain Huge Problem in Utah

Sep 12, 2014
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.

Health Officials: Enterovirus Has Likely Reached Utah

Sep 10, 2014
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.

Herbert Closing in on Healthcare Deal

Sep 9, 2014
Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says he is very close to an agreement with the federal government on his proposal to provide health insurance for those under the poverty line.

Coming out of his meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Washington, Governor Herbert says he’s gotten about 95 percent of what he’s asked for, and he’s optimistic that a final agreement should be reached shortly.

Bob Nelson

The University of Utah Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Program will be getting a share of the total $2,000,000 dollars in grant money from the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership, or UCAP. The research park facility does stem cell manufacturing and research of ALS, leukemia, arthritis and other degenerative diseases.  Dr. Jo-Anna Reems is a research associate at the center. Her department received $200,000 dollars from the fund.

Bob Nelson

It’s been twenty years since the National Institutes of Health declared that women should no longer be left out of important health research. Wednesday University of Utah researchers and health practitioners attended a half-day conference on campus focusing on those same challenges in research. Kathleen Digre is a University Professor of Neurology and Ophthalmology and an adjunct professor of OBGYN.  She says health research in the 1990’s began looking at factors related to sexual differences.

Health Reform Still Stalled in Utah

Aug 28, 2014
Andrea Smardon / KUER

Some conservative lawmakers are still resisting an expansion of Medicaid in Utah, despite testimony from those who can’t afford health coverage and a new analysis showing the economic benefits of the governor’s Healthy Utah proposal.

Charlotte Lawrence tried to contain her emotion as she sat before the state’s health reform task force, with her children on either side. She explained that she is a single parent, working two full time jobs, and she has been diagnosed with cancer. She says she’s done all she can to provide for herself and her family, but it’s not enough.

CDC, KUER

The Salt Lake County Health Department has confirmed Utah’s first human case of West Nile Virus this year. Health officials are urging people to protect themselves against the mosquito-borne virus.  Dr. Dagmar Vitek is a health director with the Salt Lake County Health Department.  She says the department does regular testing for the presence of the virus in mosquitoes.

File: Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Medical Center has unveiled their new, larger and more powerful 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI Wednesday.

Linda Campbell is the MRI Coordinator for IHC’s Urban Central Region.  She says improving technology enhances the machinery in the real world.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray is one of 50 hospitals nationwide involved in a research trial for next-generation pacemakers.  Last month one of its doctors implanted the new, wireless device in a grandmother from Logan.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A national poll shows Utah’s uninsured rate has not changed since the federal Affordable Care Act required all Americans to have health insurance.  This reflects trends across the country, where states that fully embraced the law's coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the number of uninsured residents. But Utah and other states whose leaders still object to Obamacare are seeing much less change.

Utah Department of Health

  Utah’s state health department is updating its plan to deal with any possible case of Ebola that might turn up in the state, even though the risk of an outbreak in the United States is low.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

University of Utah Hospital surgeons performed a kidney transplant this week using an organ from a donor with hepatitis C.

61-year-old Andres Galvan of West Jordan has a huge smile on his face, just four days after his kidney transplant. He raises his hands in the air as he thanks God and his doctors for what seems like a miracle. Doctor Jeffrey Campsen performed the surgery, and he says Galvan’s operation is a huge step for healthcare in Utah. 

courtesy University of Utah Health Care

The US Surgeon General issued a call to action Tuesday to prevent skin cancer.  It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, and Utah has a higher rate of melanoma than any other state.

Utah Stroke Survivors Take Part in National Dance Day

Jul 25, 2014
Andrea Smardon / KUER

A group of Utah dancers was featured this week on the Fox show So You Think You Can Dance. National Dance Day is Saturday, and the group submitted a video of the routine that many are doing across the country in hopes of being featured on the program.  But these Salt Lake City dancers have a special distinction. They’re all stroke survivors.

Utahns Keep Health Insurance Subsidies for Now

Jul 23, 2014

A federal court in Washington DC ruled Tuesday that Obamacare subsidies are illegal. Utah is among 36 states that would potentially be affected by this ruling, but for now, Utahns will continue to receive those subsidies.

Pages