Health

Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

The abortion-access advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice America is urging Gov. Terry Branstad to veto legislation it says threatens women's health and plays politics with women's lives.

Senate File 471 requires women to wait three days before receiving an abortion and have an ultrasound before the procedure. It also bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. 

"There is still time for the governor to do the right thing," says NARAL's James Owens. "This bill introduced ideology into the doctor’s room and tries to shame women away from accessing basic healthcare." 

WIKICOMMONS / Kevin Schuchmann

Iowans are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets this Saturday by taking unwanted and expired medications to more than 100 disposal sites.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reported cases of gonorrhea infections in Iowa are up more than 75 percent in the last three years, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The department says while Iowa's overall infection rate isn't unusual, the sudden increase in infections from 2013 is unique. 

IDPH STD program manager George Walton says part of the reason for this increase is that providers are conducting more comprehensive testing, which has identified cases that would have otherwise gone undetected. 

The Iowa Hospital Association says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act. The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018, they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s healthcare exchange created under the ACA.

Iowa will soon have only two insurance carriers providing individual healthcare policies. Connecticut-based Aetna has become the second company this week to announce it will stop selling insurance policies on Iowa’s public exchange in January 2018.

Earlier this week the Iowa Insurance Commission announced that Wellmark would also no longer provide individual plans in Iowa. Wellmark says rising costs are causing its departure. Aetna cites financial risk and an uncertain market outlook for its decision to exit.

Courtesy of the Offenburgers

Many Iowans remember Chuck Offenburger from the years he spent writing for the Des Moines Register as the "Iowa Boy" columnist. He’s still writing - you can find his work on offenburger.com - and his wife, Carla Offenburger is writing too. These days she’s been writing about her latest experience, being diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma for the third time.

Melanie Levi / Flickr

Stories of extraordinary weight loss make gripping television, but the kind of fast and furious weight loss viewers love to see doesn’t tend to last.

“The body was equipped to defend against weight loss, and that makes maintenance of weight loss during dieting an exercise extremely difficult," says Dr. Allyn Mark of the University of Iowa. "This is true not only with the contestants in the biggest loser…but it’s also true of individuals who diet to lose modest amounts of weight.”

Penn State / Flickr

Sepsis strikes more than a million Americans every year. Between 28 and 50 percent of those patients will die.

"People are getting all kinds of procedures that are altering their immune system and their ability to handle these infections, and so what we see is that infections are actually going up and we're getting significant number of deaths," says Dr. Patrick Schlievert, professor and chair in the Department of Microbiology at the UI Carver College of Medicine. "The funding and the understanding that goes with that has not kept up with it."

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Suicide rates in the United States are the highest they’ve been in 30 years, but no matter what statistics show us, each individual loss to suicide is devastating. Survivors are left with grief, anger, questions and often a sense of guilt. Cheri Jenkins, whose father and mother both died by suicide, said one of the hardest emotions for her to reconcile was anger.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

West Des Moines is becoming the first city in Iowa to sign on to the national program known as Stop the Bleed. The effort is meant to train citizens to become first responders in cases of mass injuries.

The White House launched the project in partial response to the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Stop the Bleed is designed to train and equip people to save lives in emergency situations involving serious bleeding. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Republican-controlled Iowa statehouse aims to limit abortion access by cutting off public funding to Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a reported 26,000 patients.

Lawmakers say they’ll fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided by organizations other than Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But the healthcare organization said in a conference call this morning this will create a vacuum for critical services.

Andrea Mahoney / Briarwood Healthcare Center

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America says music, when used appropriately, can shift a patient's mood, help with managing stress and agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and help with motor movements. Now, researchers at the University of Iowa are studying the extent of that effect. Alaine Reschke-Hernandez, a music therapist, and Dr.

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

Opponents of the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system say recent revelations show the program should not be run by for-profit companies. A Des Moines Register report this week revealed the three companies in charge of Iowa Medicaid say they are facing dramatic losses.

When private companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid system in April, many wondered if they could make a profit. The companies claimed profits would come as a result of better management, but now they say underfunding is threatening the program’s stability and that state payments are insufficient.

scion_cho / Flickr

Never go to bed angry, the old saying goes, or that bad feeling will harden into resentment. Now scientists have found evidence to support the idea that negative emotional memories are harder to reverse after a night’s sleep.

The study published recently in the journal Nature Communications found a link between sleep and the consolidation of emotional memories. Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center explains:

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Low-income pregnant women in the Des Moines area will for the first time have access to a computer app to help monitor their health. It’s designed to keep them in close contact with their doctors during various stages of pregnancy.

The app is called Baby Blocks. It’s being offered by UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Iowa, one of the three managed care organizations serving the state’s Medicaid patients. The chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, KellyAnn Light-McGroary, says the app will help keep expectant mothers on track with their doctor’s appointments.

FLICKR / JENNIFER MORROW

All three of the for-profit healthcare companies that have been managing Iowa’s Medicaid system are falling short of a contract requirement intended to protect segments of the Medicaid population from having to travel out-of-county for services. 

University of Iowa

There’s been a delay in opening the new children’s hospital at the University of Iowa. The planned opening has been pushed back a couple of months.

Construction on the $360 million Stead Family Children’s Hospital began in 2014. At 14-stories, it will be the tallest building in Iowa City. A spokesman for the university, Tom Moore, says in November officials received word from the contractor.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A number of health organizations are joining the push to fund the dormant Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. They contend it will lead Iowans to more active lifestyles.

Iowa voters approved the fund by 63 percent in 2010. It has never held any money. Supporters are calling on the Legislature to approve a three-eighths cent sales tax increase to fill its coffers. A campaign coordinator with the American Heart Association, Seth Johnson, says his group is joining Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy coalition to draw support for hiking trails and other outdoor activities.

Practicing Gratitude

Dec 6, 2016
Courtesy of Brad Anderson

Whether you’re grateful for the warm cup of coffee in your hands or for another day of life, the act of being grateful can be powerful. Many question whether the act of being grateful can have physical benefits as well.

Santiago Alvarez

While young woman are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to eating disorders, eating disorders affect women and men of all ages.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Iowans with family members who are addicted to heroin or narcotic painkillers now have an easy way to acquire a potentially life-saving antidote, after action by the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.   

Patricia Quinlisk has issued a standing order so that any family member who demonstrates a need can go to a local pharmacy and purchase naloxone which can reverse the effects of an overdose. 

In an overdose situation, naloxone reverses the drug-induced slowing of the respiratory system.   

Joyce Russell/IPR

A new program to get severely ill psychiatric patients into a hospital in a timely manner is working, according to a new report by the Iowa Department of Human Services.  

Officials say the 29 hospitals in Iowa that serve psychiatric patients are now reporting available beds into a statewide database, so law enforcement officers and others can know where there’s an opening in an emergency situation. 

“We now have 100% involvement of all the hospitals,” said DHS director Charles Palmer.  

The DHS director briefed Governor Branstad’s budget panel on the program.

Wellcome Images

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and producer Emily Woodbury talk with medical providers about how different medical robots work, as well as the pros and cons of working side-by-side with machines to provide patient care.

Robots at the bedside: Telemedicine and the stroke robot

Ian Freimuth / Flickr

RAYGUN, the snarky clothing company based out of Des Moines, has made hand towels emblazoned with a donkey, elephant and the words ‘Thank You For Not Discussing the Election” encircled and crossed through, just in time for Thanksgiving. After one of the most divisive elections in modern American history, Thanksgiving dinner will be undoubtedly dicey conversational territory for many Iowans.

Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines is opening the state’s first obstetrics emergency department.  It will be staffed around-the-clock by OB-GYN doctors.

julep67 / Flickr

Tuesday marked the first day of open enrollment for Obamacare health insurance. It comes just a week after the Department of Health and Human Services announced the prices of policies sold on the exchanges would rise an average 22 percent for 2017.  Pete Damiano, Director of the Public Policy Center and of the Health Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa, says that number may be scarier in theory than it is in reality.

Living Longer, But With More Pain

Oct 25, 2016
Tony Hall / Flickr

People are living longer. But that doesn’t always mean they’re living well longer. One of the reasons for the diminished quality of later life is back pain, which the latest Global Burden of Disease study recently named the second most common ailment affecting aging people across the globe. According to Dr. Joseph Chen, Director of the University of Iowa Spine Center, the prevalence of back pain is not surprising.

Flickr / Johnny_Spasm

A post office in Des Moines has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after two employees developed heat-related illnesses while delivering mail this summer.

In one incident a mail carrier ended up in the emergency room, and in another case, a carrier became so sick she was home from work, recovering for three days. OSHA says the supervisor of the latter employee had initially told the carrier to keep delivering mail on her 11-mile route in 93-degree heat, despite the fact she felt ill.  

John Finn / Flickr

Recent research funded by a grant from National Institute of Mental Health at the University of Houston reveals children who experience inadequate or disrupted sleep are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders later in life. To pinpoint these cognitive, behavioral and physiological patterns of emotional risk, the researchers are temporarily restricting sleep in 50 pre-adolescent children between the ages of 7 and 11.

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