Health Care

West Nile Virus Detected in Utah Mosquitos

Jul 22, 2014

Health officials say West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitos in Utah. But so far, no human cases have been reported.  The virus has been found in mosquito pools in Box Elder and Uintah counties. Rebecca Ward with the Utah Department of Health says humans who contract the virus may not necessarily develop symptoms, but it can be very serious, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.

AirMed Takes Emergency Newborn Care to the Sky

Jul 18, 2014
Andrea Smardon / KUER

A University of Utah AirMed team can now deliver emergency care to newborn babies. The perinatal team has just been licensed to transport babies from zero to 30 days, and they have a new larger helicopter for the necessary equipment.

University of Utah chief flight nurse Bart Chournos says he’s been treating pregnant mothers for 30 years. He travels by helicopter to expecting moms in need of urgent care at smaller, regional hospitals throughout the Mountain west.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah lawmakers were stunned to hear Thursday that the number of people who fall in the so-called health coverage gap is significantly higher than they thought. Researchers from the University of Utah presented results from a new report on the Medicaid eligibility expansion population to a state health committee.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Wearing fake grass skirts and plastic leis, health advocates took turns going under a limbo pole in front of House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s office Wednesday. The idea was to highlight the plight of Utahns who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, and the pole was steadily lowered to represent each month this year that they have not been able to pay for healthcare. The mood was light, but Christine Stenquist quickly became emotional when she began talking about why she is taking part in this demonstration.

An independent audit of Salt Lake County’s Behavioral Health Services system was released Tuesday. Officials say it validates the county’s move to a managed-care model.  County Mayor Ben McAdams called for the audit last year following news that provider Valley Behavioral Health (VBH) would discontinue service to hundreds of patients due to budget cuts.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Some minority babies in Utah are more likely to experience health problems or die than their white counterparts. That’s especially true for refugees. A new research project out of the University of Utah aims to help African refugee mothers deliver healthier babies. 

File: utahpeoplespost.com

Tuesday Utah residents will be able to apply for a special card that allows them to legally possess hemp oil for medical treatment purposes. The law that sets up the program went into effect this month.

University of Utah

Metabolic syndrome is the term used for a number of conditions that are linked together - diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. It affects up to 25 percent of adults in the United States. KUER's Dan Bammes reports new local research is showing how they're related - and how they might be treated.

Brian Grimmett

Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City is on the verge of becoming one of a few sites in the country to study the effectiveness of cannabis based product intended to treat epilepsy in children.

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants more money from the federal government to help prevent obesity and injury, and is seeking public input on its proposal. The UDOH is asking for 1.5 million dollars for Preventive Health and Health Services. That’s an $850,000 dollar increase over the amount Utah originally applied for this fiscal year. Currently, the block grant funds are primarily used by the state and local health departments for the prevention of obesity and injury.

A new poll shows that Utahns broadly support Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, which aims to help low income residents get affordable health insurance.

Jan Christian via Wikimedia Commons

A vaccination known to prevent cervical cancer is still not offered at public health departments in at least five Utah counties. Meanwhile, the state is nearly dead last in the number of girls who get vaccinated. 

Brian Grimmett

The Salt Lake County Council is sending a letter this week to the Utah legislature asking them to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan and accept Medicaid funds. County councilors have said those federal funds could offset a 12 percent budget shortfall for behavioral health services expected next year. But so far, state lawmakers are holding firm in their positions on Medicaid.

Salt Lake County faces a budget shortfall and service cuts if the state doesn’t accept Medicaid funds from the federal government. The County Council will draft a letter at their meeting Tuesday urging state lawmakers to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan, and to do it this summer before the County has to complete its budget. 

Democratic Salt Lake County Councilor Sam Granato was hoping the legislature would have made a decision by now on whether Utah should accept Medicaid funds to provide health coverage for more than 110,000 low-income Utahns.

Terry Gildea/KUER

Dignitaries and religious leaders gathered at the Huntsman Cancer Institute today to break ground on a new research center that will be dedicated to fighting cancers that affect children.  

The new Primary Children’s and Families' Cancer Research Center will be a 220 thousand square foot expansion of the Huntsman Cancer Institute and double the center’s research capacity.  Mary Beckerle is the Director of HCI.  She says the new research center will make significant strides in battling a number of different children’s cancers.

Film Highlights Utah’s Health Coverage Gap

Jun 3, 2014
"Entitled to Life" screenshot

A film debuting Tuesday in Salt Lake City highlights Utah’s low income citizens who don’t have access to affordable health insurance.  The new documentary tells the stories of Utah adults who fall within the state's coverage gap, earning too little to buy subsidized insurance on healthcare.gov, but too much to receive Medicaid.

File: playathletics.com

Open enrollment in Utah’s Primary Care Network, or PCN, begins today for the first time since May of 2013. Kolbi Young of the Utah Department of Health says there are about 73,000 Utahns who are eligible for this type of care.

“The Primary Care Network program has been around for years and it’s a program that essentially covers a portion of the population that’s not typically eligible for Medicaid with very primary preventive services,” says Young.

Most Utahns in Health “Coverage Gap” are Working

May 23, 2014
Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced this week that he’s made good progress negotiating with the federal government on his alternative to Medicaid expansion. The governor says there are still some sticking points in the negotiations – including work requirements for those receiving government assistance. But a new study shows that many of those citizens are already working.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah’s Republican lawmakers say they’re not ready to make any decisions about Medicaid expansion or the governor’s alternative plan. That means over 110,000 low income Utahns will likely be waiting at least until next year before they know what their health insurance options may be.

At a GOP caucus this week, Republicans legislators determined that they don’t all agree when it comes to Medicaid and healthcare reform.

Utah Teen Births Down, But Chlamydia Rates Up

May 20, 2014

The teen birth rate continues to decline in Utah, but some sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. That’s according to recently released data on child well-being in the state.

The data comes from KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Terry Haven, Deputy Director for Voices for Utah Children, says she sees some positive trends in this year’s child well-being report.

State to Investigate Infant Mortality in Uintah County

May 7, 2014
Andrea Smardon

A midwife in Vernal has brought attention to what she believes is an unusually high rate of infant mortality in Uintah County. She and some environmental activists believe the newborn deaths may be connected to pollution from oil and gas drilling in the area. State and local health officials are holding a public meeting Wednesday evening to discuss a possible study of the issue.

A children’s autism treatment program is accepting new applicants. The Utah Department of Health’s Medicaid Autism Waiver program is open for enrollment. There are 35 openings.

A new report shows Utah ranks among the worst states in the nation for access and affordability to health care. The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC, released its Scorecard on State Health System Performance this week.

Leftover Prescription Meds Pose Hazards to Utahns

Apr 25, 2014

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Utah and around the country. But Utahns can reduce the risk of overdose deaths and help protect the environment by disposing of those unused medications Saturday during National Take-Back Day.

U Apologizes to Family for Sperm Mix-Up

Apr 25, 2014
Salt Lake County

The University of Utah announced Thursday the findings of an investigation into allegations of sperm donation tampering by a former lab employee. Texas couple John and Pamela Branum prompted the investigation after learning that their daughter is the offspring of Thomas Lippert, an employee at the University of Utah lab where the family received a sperm donation in 1991.  

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and top officials at the White House were very receptive to his plan to help cover uninsured Utahns.

After his visit to Washington D.C. earlier in the week Governor Herbert says he’s confident that Secretary Sebelius will approve his Healthy Utah plan.

“As she said to me, I see nothing in your proposal, Governor, that would be a deal breaker.”

Governor Meets with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Apr 14, 2014
Brian Grimmett / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert is in Washington D.C. Monday meeting with outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about his plan to help low income Utahns get health insurance.

Veterans Health via Flickr

In the wake of another tragic shooting at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, the Veteran’s Affairs office in Salt Lake City is reaching out to military veterans who are seeking mental health services and is trying to dispel any misconceptions about mental health and violence.

Andrea Smardon

The Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City has completed an expansion, so more parents with seriously ill children will be able to stay.  There are not only more beds, but more features to accommodate families as healthcare delivery evolves in Utah.

“We wanted families when they walked in to feel like they were entering a very different place than the hospital,” says Carrie Romano, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. “We wanted them to be greeted with a bright beautiful wall. As you can see, it says the house that love built.”

Jonathan Kland / LDS Architecture https://ldsarchitecture.wordpress.com/category/meetinghouses/united-states/utah/salt-lake-valley/salt-lake-12th-ward/

Many faith leaders in Utah have been vocal about encouraging lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state. But the dominant faith – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – has been silent when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, one LDS ward in downtown Salt Lake City is quietly working to help congregants get access to health insurance.

Pages