Health and Wealth

For years, Truman Medical Centers’ chemotherapy unit sat in an open room located in an unrenovated portion of its mid-1970s hospital near downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Only a few feet separated each chemotherapy patient – seated in recliners next to their IV poles – and the ground-floor pharmacy sat several stories below the oncology unit.

The case of Terry Cawthorn and Mission Hospital, in Asheville, N.C., gives a glimpse of how some hospital officials around the country have shrugged off an epidemic.

Cawthorn was a nurse at Mission for more than 20 years. Her supervisor testified under oath that she was "one of my most reliable employees."

hitthatswitch / flickr

A Missouri Republican wants to require preschools and daycare centers to tell parents if there are other children attending who have not been vaccinated against measles or other illnesses. 

If you like a cup of coffee and an egg in the morning, you've got the green light.

A panel of top nutrition experts appointed by the federal government has weighed in with its long-awaited diet advice.

A highly contagious disease was sweeping across the United States. Thousands of children were sick and some were dying. In the midst of this outbreak, health officials did something that experts say had never been done before and hasn't been done since: They forced parents to vaccinate their children.

It sounds like something that would have happened 100 years ago. But this was 1991 — and the disease was measles.

Courtesy of Aaron Banks

Aaron Banks, a Columbia native, spent more than a year investigating crimes by listening to phone calls from prison inmates to their friends, family and children. He said the conversations with children really struck a nerve with him. 

“They would be asking when am I going to see you again? why aren’t you at home? And that kind of stuff. It was just heartbreaking to hear that sort of thing," he said.

Banks said these overheard conversations began to affect his relationship with own children, so he began to spend more time at home and this made his craft beer hobby more difficult.


For 15 years, Carla Price and her husband's sex life was great. But then things began to change.

"Before, I would want to have sex," says Price, who is 50 and lives in central Missouri. "But over the years my sexual desire has just dwindled to nothing."

Price has no idea why. She's healthy. She's not really stressed out about anything. And she's still totally crazy about her husband.

"It's not that our relationship got boring," Price says. "Because it's actually the opposite — we became closer as we got older together."

BPA-free isn't good enough anymore if you're trying to sell plastic sippy cups, water bottles and food containers.

The new standard may be "EA-free," which means free of not only BPA, short for bisphenol A, but also free of other chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen.

The U.S. surgeon general lists 21 deadly diseases that are caused by smoking. Now, a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine points to more than a dozen other diseases that apparently add to the tobacco death toll.

To arrive at this conclusion, scientists from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and several universities tracked nearly a million people for a decade and recorded their causes of death.

Andy Lamb / Flickr

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver, often causing liver cancer or cirrhosis. Although they share a name, it is completely different from hepatitis A or B so current hepatitis vaccines don’t guard against hep C.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 3.2 million people in the United States have hepatitis C. But Bruce Burkett, Founder and Director of the Hep C Alliance, said the disease often goes untreated simply because people don’t know they are infected.

 


The mysterious and complicated illness that has been called chronic fatigue syndrome has a new definition and a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disease, or SEID for short.

The name change is big news because many patients and experts in the field hate the name chronic fatigue syndrome; they feel that it trivializes the condition. Another name, myalgic encephalomyelitis, has been used in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but it doesn't accurately describe the illness, either.

Karoly Arvai/Reuters

For all the families out there still vaccinating their kids maybe what they need is a headdress declaring their stance. Perhaps something that would really stand out and say, "I'm a concerned parent, and I don't want my kids to get sick and die."

Maybe a giant hat or a wig would do the trick? Sounds crazy, but that tactic seemed to work in France in the 18th century during a scourge of smallpox.

When Barbara Marder was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, she had part of her right lung removed, went through a round of chemotherapy and tried to move on with her life.

"I had hoped that everything was fine — that I would not create difficulty for my children, that I would get to see my grandchildren grow up," says Marder, 73, of Arnold, Md.

But a routine scan a year later found bad news: The cancer was back — this time in her other lung.

More than 100 people have contracted measles, most exposed after visits to Disneyland. The resurgence of the illness has given new life to the debate over whether parents should vaccinate their children. This week, that debate became political. While most government leaders are urging people to inoculate their children, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), himself a medical doctor, told CNBC he's known of cases in which vaccines have caused "profound medical disorders." Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry, Mike McKean and Amy Simons discuss the issue on KBIA-FM's media criticism program, "Views of the News.”


Dan Ox / Flickr

Megan Oberg had a rough time after her first two deliveries. One moment she'd be happy, in another, not really. And she said that's pretty typical.

 

“Most women who have given birth can tell you some time during the first two weeks you tend to have some ups and downs as far as mood swings, as the hormones leave the system,” Oberg said.

 

For her third pregnancy she decided she wanted to try something new.

 


The ongoing measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has led to some harsh comments about parents who don't vaccinate their kids. But Juniper Russo, a writer in Chattanooga, Tenn., says she understands those parents because she used to be one of them.

"I know what it's like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions," Russo says.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This story is part of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 1 / Part 2).

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys — causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr. Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

fhcmo.org

  It’s no secret that health insurance can be a confusing topic.

“There's not a ton of health insurance literacy,” said Aaron Swaney, Outreach Enrollment Specialist for the Family Health Center in Columbia. ”But that's true from people who have never had health insurance before to people who work in the healthcare field.”  

  

Nixon plans improvements to veterans' services

Jan 27, 2015
Missouri Veterans Commission

  Governor Jay Nixon told a packed room of Missouri veterans that he's working to make sure the state's veterans’ homes will continue to serve their needs.

The governor said he's not only committed to renovating four of the state's existing veterans homes but also wants to secure funds to build a new home for those still looking for care.

"For every veteran receiving quality medical care and services at one of our veterans' homes, there's a veteran on a waiting list because there's not enough space," Nixon said.

Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.

Now, there's a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.

In his State of the Union speech earlier this week, President Obama pitched a plan to boost what he called "middle-class economics." He asked Congress to help him make community college free, cut taxes for the middle class — and also do this:

"Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave," Obama said. "It's the right thing to do."

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

Sharyn Morrow / Flickr

Prescription drug abuse can start with a routine problem, like lower back pain. A doctor will prescribe medication for the patient, but the pain doesn't go away. So the patient takes more medicine. 

And this behavior could lead to an addiction, said Len Paulozzi, an epidemiologist for the CDC. He finds patterns of drug abuse. 

NEC Corporation of America / Flickr

There is a long list of to-do’s when applying for a medical license in Missouri. Applicants have to provide detailed verification of their degrees, residency and previous work experience. Tack on several months for the state medical board to review all these items, and the whole process can take a lot of time.

Most physicians go through this process when they are first applying for a medical license. But the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) found that many doctors don’t stop at one license.


Today is my 22nd day back from Liberia, which, as any reporter or health worker who has been in this Ebola hot zone will tell you, is a good day. Yesterday was the last day that I had to report my temperature to the CDC. I've passed the 21-day incubation period for the virus. My temperature is 98.6 degrees. I'm in the clear.

But three weeks ago, I wasn't feeling so good.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

When Mary Ratliff moved to Columbia from Mississippi in 1959, she was leaving one of the epicenters of American segregation and the burgeoning civil rights movement. But that doesn’t mean she escaped experiences of racism and segregation in her new home.

“It was subtle here when I first came," Ratliff said. "In fact I've made the comment many times, that Columbia is 'Big Little Dixie.' It wasn’t a whole lot different from Mississippi.”


Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

New research finds that eating an avocado per day, as part of an overall diet rich in healthy fats, may help cut the bad kind cholesterol, known as LDL.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recruited 45 overweight participants who agreed to try three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets. Their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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