Health

Health

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

As medicine advances, babies who used to die from congenital conditions early in life are living longer. That’s the good news. But doctors used to treating children born with heart problems or cystic fibrosis don’t always know how to help them, once they reach adulthood.

John Pemble / IPR

At least one state senator is calling for the person in charge of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown to step down so a more thorough investigation can be conducted. This follows repeated complaints over management of the Veterans home. The Senate Veterans Affairs committee held a meeting Monday  to hear testimony. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s a showdown of sorts between Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad and the Democratic-controlled Senate over expanding Medicaid. Under federal law all states have to decide whether or not they’ll extend enrollment in the joint state and federal healthcare program for the poor. The legislature’s 110-day session is set to end  Friday, but the dispute over Medicaid is one of the issues that’s likely to keep lawmakers from going home.

There’s one issue that will likely help keep state lawmakers from adjourning at the end of the week; that’s healthcare. Thousands of low-income Iowans will be kicked off a healthcare program that expires at the end of the year and there’s disagreement over how to cover them. Republican Governor Terry Branstad is at odds with Democratic-controlled Senate who want to expand Medicaid. The governor doesn’t want to rely on the feds… so he’s introduced his own plan.

Just about everyone – from the National Rifle Association to the American Civil Liberties Union — agrees that the mental health system in this country is broken. In Iowa, many local sheriffs say that means their county jails have become way stations for people with mental illness. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports on what can happen when county jails are tasked with caring for the mentally ill.

Clay Masters / IPR

    

Iowans on Medicaid

Apr 29, 2013
Clay Masters / IPR

Right now, under federal law states have to figure out how to insure the poor. They can either expand the joint federal/state healthcare program for low-income people called Medicaid… or they can get waivers and devise their own plans. Democrats who control the Iowa Senate are at odds with Republican Governor Terry Branstad has introduced his own plan. IPR Statehouse correspondent Clay Masters wanted to get away from the politics and talk to Iowans who receive these services. 

Pat Blank

A group of residents at a Cedar Falls assisted living facility are taking part in research that could allow aging adults to stay in their home longer while monitoring their health. The research involves video game technology in their apartment and sensors in their bed.

Matching Marrow

Mar 28, 2013
Courtesy photo

A diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma often means  several rounds of chemotherapy.  Sometimes, a bone marrow transplant is the best option for a cure. The bone marrow donation process has evolved and is less frightening and invasive than it once was. Bone marrow registry events were held in several locations throughout Iowa this month. IPR's Pat Blank has the story of two Iowa women whose lives have been changed because a stranger decided to add their name to the list.  For more information about bone marrow donation check out the Be The Match website.

We’ve spent the week with people who perform some of the toughest work there is – the professionals and families who care for the sick and dying.  We conclude with a road trip to the south side of Des Moines. Correspondent Rob Dillard rides along with a home health nurse as she makes one of her 20 or so weekly patient visits. She delivers a style of health care reminiscent of bygone days when medical personnel often arrived at their patients’ doors to provide services. This kind of direct care is still in demand for those who are unable to venture far from home.

Iowa Public Radio has been bringing attention to the families and professionals who tend to the health needs of Iowans. It can be stressful and emotional work, perhaps never more so than when the person in need of care nears the end of life. Correspondent Rob Dillard takes us to a comfortable, peaceful place set on the edge of woods in Des Moines. It’s a hospice, a home where many people move to spend their final days.

Correspondent Rob Dillard examines the difficult responsibilities that go along with taking care of someone who is sinking into dementia. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. According to figures supplied by the local Alzheimer’s Association, some 69-thousand Iowans suffer from this debilitating disease. This number will likely swell to 71-thousand by 2020 and 77-thousand by 2025.  Dementia most often strikes the elderly. But in this report, Rob tells us it can also hit people in the prime of their life, bringing heartbreak to families with plans for their golden years.

Today, we continue our week-long series “Being a Caregiver in Iowa.” Yesterday we looked at professional caregivers, who face low pay and lack of training. In most cases, however, the responsibilities of direct care-giving fall to families. When it comes to families with an autistic child, this work can last a lifetime. In Part Two of our series, Iowa Public Radio correspondent Rob Dillard takes us to West Des Moines, where we meet the parents of an autistic boy, and their teenage daughter, who keeps an eye on her kid brother.

Iowa Public Radio is returning this week to its “Being in Iowa” series. Over the next five days, correspondent Rob Dillard will be asking the question, what does it mean to be a caregiver in the state? We begin today by talking about those who provide direct care for a living. It’s an occupation dominated by women and it’s one of the fastest growing workforces in the state. It’s also a job that pays very little and that many end up leaving. Rob Dillard reports on why – and how the state may be changing that.

Flu shot scramble

Jan 10, 2013

Reports of widespread flu on the East Coast and news anchors getting vaccinated on morning television has sent some Iowans scrambling to get a last minute flu shot. Iowa Department of Public Health medical director, Patricia Quinlisk says the state is reporting about a 4% increase in cases compared to last year.

Shannon Miller

It’s been two years since a salmonella outbreak was traced back to several Iowa farms—including Centrum Valley Farms. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, another strain of the deadly bacteria has re-appeared on that same farm.

Twice Blessed

Sep 6, 2012
Christina DeShaw

This past Monday, a central Iowa couple was able to bring their twin babies home for the first time. One baby, the boy, was born healthy, but his sister has a serious heart defect that kept her hospitalized for nearly four months. In January, at 18 weeks of pregnancy Brad Weitl and Christina DeShaw discovered that one of their twins had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. This was Ava, her brother Aidan’s heart was fine. After the diagnosis, Christina got on the internet to gather information about what to do next.

Sheep Purple / flickr

University of Iowa clinical associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Michael Pentella, joined host Ben Kieffer on the talk show "River to River" to talk about the state of antibiotic resistance in the country. The discussion focused on tuberculosis, since ISU researchers are currently studying an extensively antibiotic resistant strain of the disease that is growing in parts of the world.

To hear the full show, visit the "River to River" page here.

Pat Blank

A northeast Iowa woman is part of a study that’s helping unravel a rare heart condition that strikes young, otherwise healthy people. 42- year- old Tracy Hjelle (YELL-ee)  is the picture of health, she’s athletic and is in great shape, that’s because she’s the pitching coach for the Luther College softball team, but her world turned upside down on a Sunday morning in April as she and the team were preparing to leave Decorah for a game in Wisconsin.

This morning the Iowa State Fair began with activities promoting the one year old Healthiest State Initiative.  It’s also the first day a dozen new food items high in fat or sugar are available, including the double bacon corn dog. 
 

Clare Roth / IPR

In recent months, several small-town Iowa reproductive health care clinics have closed. And now, more may be in danger. Bills introduced this month in Congress threaten to cut Title X funding, which provides for reproductive health care across the nation, and supplies it to places with few other options like rural Iowa.

Dr. Alan Koslow / Facebook

An Iowa doctor is preparing to come home after spending the past couple of weeks doing relief work in a part of the world facing one of the worst refugee crises in memory.

Dr. Alan Koslow is a vascular surgeon from Des Moines. He landed in South Sudan about two weeks ago, in an area where tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing violence and famine across the border in Sudan.

Koslow spoke with IPR's Sarah McCammon through an internet phone from the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

Bill Leaver is CEO of Iowa Health System, the state's largest network of hospitals and clinics.  He says the ruling will pave the way for more streamlined and prevention-focused healthcare.

Daniela Hartmann / flickr

July 1 is a big date for mental health care in Iowa—that’s the day funding switches over to a redesigned model. The legislature approved a plan to equalize mental health care funding for low income residents across the state.  Some counties are crying foul, saying programs will be gutted. But other’s say the change they say finally gives all counties a level playing field.

Adapting Well

Jun 17, 2012
Pat Blank

As athletes around the world fine tune their skills in order to compete in the London Olympics, another much smaller, specialized group has just completed a four day camp in Cedar Falls.  Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank takes us to the Adapted Sports Camp at UNI.

        In the Quad Cities, Davenport’s St. Ambrose University will soon be opening a new program for training physician assistants.
      The job market is good for the female-dominated profession, but class sizes are limited.

Iowa Public Radio’s week-long look at African-Americans in the state continues today with reporter Rob Dillard considering the multiple health risks they face. Blacks have a higher propensity than whites for such chronic diseases as diabetes and heart disease. The occurrence of infant deaths among African-Americans in Iowa is at three times the rate of whites. Rob talked to a number of health professionals about why this is and what, if anything, blacks can do to lower the risks.

This week, Iowa Public Radio has been taking a look at what it means to be a military veteran in the state. Today, Rob Dillard examines the mental problems that sometimes beset veterans after they serve their country. Many turn to booze and drugs to fight off the demons that haunt their dreams after fighting during wartime. Thousands of them wind up on the streets or in homeless camps after they fail to reconnect with family and friends. Rob sees what’s being done in Iowa to help these troubled veterans.

Over the next five days, Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard will be asking the question, “What does it mean to be a military veteran in the state?” The U.S. Census pegs the number of veterans in Iowa at more than 245-thousand. Ask many older veterans what their top concern is, they’ll tell you health care. A third of Iowa’s former service members are aging baby boomers, who served during the Vietnam era. Another 30 percent fought in World War Two or Korea and are growing frailer by the day. Rob tells us access to health care is a major focus for veterans’ groups and hospitals.

By the end of the year researchers at the University of Iowa will likely be one step closer to treating a very rare disorder called Batten Disease. It's an inherited disease that affects children. There's no cure and it's always fatal. Encouraging studies are bringing hope to families throughout the country and, in particular, to a family in Waterloo.

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