Health Desk

Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers?

Need a gift for a 20-something kid about to age out of the family's health plan? Juana Rivera (left) discusses insurance options with Fabrizzio Russi, an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of the Americas in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 4:06 pm

California's health insurance marketplace, Covered California, has supported the development of more than 200 new storefronts at or near shopping centers across the state this year, each tasked with explaining the ins and outs of different health plans to holiday (and everyday) shoppers.

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Code Switch
8:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 7:46 am

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Obama Administration Downplays Court Challenge To Health Law

Elisa Carrero assists Julian Gauiria, of Paterson, N.J., with enrollment in the health insurance exchange in November. Signups continue to be brisk, health officials say.
Tyson Trish North Jersey/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:24 am

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

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Goats and Soda
2:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Christmas In Liberia: Ebola Fears, No Snow, Holiday Spirit

A man peddles plastic Christmas trees and lights in downtown Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 7:43 am

Ebola has cast a shadow over Liberia, but it can't stop Christmas.

Despite the trauma of the past year, Liberians are trying to have a happy holiday season. Carols are playing on the radio and there's lots of decorating — and painting — going on.

"At a certain time of the year we want our homes to look good," says journalist Siatta Scott Johnson. "It's like a competition in Liberia when it comes to the festive season."

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Shots - Health News
2:18 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Costly Hepatitis C Drugs Threaten To Bust Prison Budgets

Dr. Michael Poshkus treats inmates with hepatitis C at the John J. Moran Medium Security facility in Cranston, R.I. Some 12 to 35 percent of inmates nationwide are afflicted with the chronic liver disease.
Kristin Gourlay RIPR

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 2:45 pm

Every week, Dr. Michael Poshkus visits the John J. Moran Medium Security prison in Cranston, R.I., to see patients infected with hepatitis C.

Until recently, their only treatment option was a weekly injection in the stomach for at least a year. It worked less than half the time and caused debilitating side effects. But everything has changed.

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Goats and Soda
12:47 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Floating Toilets That Clean Themselves Grow On A Lake

During the dry season, human waste makes the water putrid along the floating village of Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake.
Courtesy of Taber Hand

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 10:03 am

Imagine you live on a floating lake house. Open air. Chirping crickets. Clear, starry nights. Everything seems great until you need to use the bathroom.

The natural instinct might be to make a deposit in the water. But that wouldn't be safe. Microbes in your feces would contaminate the water and could cause outbreaks of deadly diseases, like cholera.

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Shots - Health News
10:07 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Being Thin Doesn't Spare Asian-Americans From Diabetes Risk

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:19 am

We know that you can be fat while still fit, but how about skinny and unhealthy? This may be the case for many Asian-Americans who look slim, but actually face a higher risk of diabetes than people belonging to other ethnic groups.

As a result, Asian-Americans should consider getting tested for diabetes at a lower body mass index than previously recommended, according to new guidelines published Tuesday by the American Diabetes Association.

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Shots - Health News
9:31 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Can I Keep My Marketplace Insurance If I Enroll In Medicare?

Sally Elford Getty Images/Ikon Images

We have received a bunch of questions about enrolling in Medicare lately. Here are answers to two that came up recently.

My wife has been automatically re-enrolled in a silver policy on the Oklahoma health insurance marketplace. She will turn 65 and be enrolled in Medicare on May 1, 2015. Can she keep her silver policy when she is enrolled in Medicare? And, if she does, will she automatically lose her premium subsidy? Do we have to cancel the policy or will the insurer do it automatically?

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Health Desk
6:26 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Keurig Recalls "Mini Plus" Coffee Makers

Credit consumer product safety commission

Keurig is recalling some 7 million of single-serve coffee brewing machines because of reported burns.
 
 Keurig says its Mini Plus Brewing Systems, with model number K10, can overheat and spray water during brewing. Keurig says it had received about 200 reports of hot liquid escaping from the brewer, including 90 reports of burn-related injuries.
 

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Shots - Health News
2:29 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Baby Thrives Once 3-D-Printed Windpipe Helps Him Breathe

Jake and Natalie Peterson and their son Garrett in October 2014.
Courtesy of Brittany Jacox

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 3:20 pm

Garrett Peterson was born in 2012 with a defective windpipe. It would periodically just collapse, because the cartilage was so soft, and he'd stop breathing. This would happen every day — sometimes multiple times a day.

"It was really awful to have to watch him go through his episodes," says his father, Jake Peterson of Layton, Utah. "He'd be fine and then all of a sudden start turning blue. It was just like watching your child suffocate over and over again."

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On Aging
4:50 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Services Offer A Means To Foil Widespread 'Elder Fraud'

More than a quarter of the victims of financial fraud are over 60.
iStockphoto.com

This is the season for generosity — and for con artists who take advantage of it.

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to scams; more than a quarter of the victims of financial fraud are over 60, according to the FTC. But now there are products on the market designed to protect seniors' nest eggs.

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Your Health
3:44 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

To Patients With Heart Conditions, It's OK For Your Cardiologist To Take Time Off

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 2:08 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Health Desk
3:35 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Flu Cases Are Ahead Of Schedule In Illinois

Washing your hands is a good way to help prevent the spread of the flu.
Credit Peapod Labs/flickr

Illinois is reporting widespread flu activity earlier than most years.  Widespread means the flu is showing up statewide.  Illinois tracks people hospitalized for the flu. That number is above 200 with nearly half the cases in the week that ended December 13th. 

Of course, that fails to count those who have the symptoms but are recuperating at home.  

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Is Your Heart Doctor In? If Not, You Might Not Be Any Worse Off

Gary Waters Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 9:15 am

If your cardiologist is away at a conference when you're having a stabbing feeling in your chest, don't fret. You may be more likely to live.

A study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found frail patients admitted to teaching hospitals with two common types of heart problems were more likely to survive on days when national cardiology conferences were going on.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

When Humans Quit Hunting And Gathering, Their Bones Got Wimpy

Farming helped fuel the rise of civilizations, but it may also have given us less robust bones.
Leemage/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 2:07 pm

Compared with other primates and our early human ancestors, we modern humans have skeletons that are relatively lightweight — and scientists say that basically may be because we got lazy.

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Shots - Health News
2:43 am
Mon December 22, 2014

A Family's Long Search For Fragile X Drug Finds Frustration, Hope

Katie Clapp shares a laugh with her son Andy Tranfaglia, 25, at their home in West Newbury, Mass. Andy has a rare genetic condition called fragile X syndrome.
Ellen Webber for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:17 pm

For a few weeks last year, Michael Tranfaglia and Katie Clapp saw a remarkable change in their son, Andy, who'd been left autistic and intellectually disabled by fragile X syndrome. Andy, who is 25, became more social, more talkative and happier. "He was just doing incredibly well," his father says.

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Health
7:15 am
Sun December 21, 2014

For Those Suffering Chronic Pain, The Hardest Part Is Convincing Others

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 5:52 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
3:40 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Why Does It Take A Movie Robot To Show What Nurses Really Do?

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 2:13 pm

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Sat December 20, 2014

U.N. Reports More Than 7,000 Ebola Deaths Since March

Health workers rest outside a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Kono district in Eastern Sierra Leone on Friday. The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola deaths in the current outbreak has exceeded 7,000.
Baz Ratner Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 12:58 pm

The number of people who have died from the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has crossed the 7,000 mark, the World Health Organization reports, after it recorded another 392 deaths from its previous total of 6,900 earlier this week.

The total number of infected, nearly all of them in West Africa, is at 19,031, up from 18,569 in the previous report. More than 99 percent of all infections and deaths have occurred in three countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sat December 20, 2014

The Africa I Know Isn't The Africa In The Headlines Today

Todd Moss on a 1992 visit to Tanzania.
Courtesy of Todd Moss

Stepping off the plane in Zimbabwe a quarter century ago was a huge shock. A college student on my very first visit to Africa, I was surprised how familiar everything felt.

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Around the Nation
4:27 am
Sat December 20, 2014

At One Retirement Home, Residents Run A TV Channel

On the set of Behind the Silver Screen, a Channel 22 series that profiles life stories of Hollywood veterans who are Motion Picture and Television Fund residents.
Jennifer Clymer MPTF

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 1:21 pm

For many people, being retired means playing golf in Florida or baking in the sunshine in Palm Springs. But at one retirement community in Los Angeles, the most popular activity isn't shuffleboard. It's producing TV shows.

The Wasserman Campus of the Motion Picture and Television Fund is a retirement home for people who worked in the entertainment industry. These actors, producers, editors and other showbiz veterans have credits dating back to the days of live television.

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Global Health
4:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

CDC Head: Key Interventions Have Slowed Ebola's Spread

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:58 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
1:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

At Last, I Meet My Microbes

Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is one variety of the genus Lactobacillus is one of the common active cultures found in yogurt and in the human gut.
Scimat Scimat Getty Images/Photo Researchers

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 2:13 pm

A veritable jungle of organisms is helping keep each of us alive. But we've been rather negligent hosts. For starters, we don't even know who has shown up for the party.

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Goats and Soda
10:30 am
Fri December 19, 2014

A Nurse's Desperate Plea: Show Me The Ebola Money

A body bag and some wooden sticks were used to fashion this stretcher.
Courtesy of Karin Huster

I found her curled up in the fetal position on the ground, under a piece of cardboard wet from the rain, breathing quietly. Dried blood all around her mouth. Naked. Most likely she had stumbled from her ward in the middle of the night, making it past the gates meant to separate the area where patients live from the triage area, where ambulances pull in — gates that frustratingly still won't close.

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Shots - Health News
9:47 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Some Early Childhood Experiences Shape Adult Life, But Which Ones?

Having warm, supportive parents early on correlates with success in adulthood.
Agent Illustrateur/Ikon Images

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 6:48 am

Most of us don't remember our first two or three years of life — but our earliest experiences may stick with us for years and continue to influence us well into adulthood.

Just how they influence us and how much is a question that researchers are still trying to answer. Two studies look at how parents' behavior in those first years affects life decades later, and how differences in children's temperament play a role.

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Shots - Health News
8:51 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Teaching Hospitals Hit Hardest By Medicare Fines For Patient Safety

NYU Langone Medical Center is one of the teaching hospitals being penalized by Medicare for its rate of medical errors.
Joshua Bright AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:18 pm

Medicare has begun punishing 721 hospitals with high rates of infections and other medical errors, cutting payments to half of the nation's major teaching hospitals and many institutions that are marquee names.

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Your Money
4:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:13 am

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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Goats and Soda
2:56 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

And The Award For Most Offensive Fundraising Video Goes To ...

The "Rusty Radiator" award for most offensive or stereotypical portrayal of the developing world in a fundraising video went to Feed a Child South Africa.
Feed a Child South Africa

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:34 pm

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Shots - Health News
1:25 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
NIAID

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 2:26 pm

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

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Shots - Health News
10:50 am
Thu December 18, 2014

California Whooping Cough Infections Run High Among Latino Babies

Nurse Julietta Losoyo gives Derek Lucero a whooping cough vaccination at the San Diego Public Health Center on Dec. 10.
Chris Carlson AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 11:22 am

California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years.

Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.

Six of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. There's no conclusive explanation, but there are a few theories that range from Latino cultural factors to a lack of health insurance.

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