Health Desk

The week she turned 15, Rosi got an amazing birthday present. She was in a government shelter in New York.

And then her father walked in. It was the first time she'd seen him in almost four years.

"He brought me a big cake as a present. It was vanilla," she says.

"She was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and this little collared blouse," her father remembers, laughing.

Think for a moment about what would happen if you upended the whole system of financial incentives for hospitals.

What if you said goodbye to what's known as fee-for-service, where hospitals are paid for each procedure, each visit to the emergency room, each overnight stay? What if, instead, hospitals got a fixed pot of money for the whole year, no matter how many people came through the door?

It's a good thing for him that Mitt Romney isn't running for president again.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee — who has still been bandied about as a potential candidate — just embraced everything that made many conservatives skeptical of him. He admitted that the health care plan he instituted as governor of Massachusetts was the precursor to Obamacare.

The developing world can take a lesson from Peru.

A Milwaukee hospital is trying a new approach to get newly insured residents to stop using emergency rooms as their main source of medical care and develop relationships with doctors instead.

The pilot project at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, the only hospital left in a mostly poor, black area of downtown Milwaukee, is labor intensive. But it's showing promise in getting patients connected with primary care doctors and in cutting ER costs.

Tons of money has been poured into digital health technologies, from electronic health records to a smartphone case capable of taking an electrocardiogram. But not everyone may benefit, and e-health interventions may widen, not shrink, health disparities.

When I was 15, I hated math.

I still remember the day my 7th grade teacher called me up to the front of the entire class to solve an equation. She drew a huge triangle on the blackboard and wrote an "X" on the left side and "Y" on its base. She then looked at me sternly and said, "Miss Mistry, I want you to find X for me and you better make this quick."

An estimated 7.9 million kids in the U.S. live in "food-insecure" households. This means there's not always enough to eat at home.

But when these kids go to the doctor for a checkup, or a well-child visit, the signs of malnutrition are not always apparent. So pediatricians say it's time to start asking about it.

Employers have long known that one way to employees' hearts is through their stomachs.

For a few days this week, a convention center in Chicago became the global epicenter of brain science.

Nearly 30,000 scientists swarmed through the vast hallways of the McCormick Place convention center as part of the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. Among them were Nobel Prize winners, the director of the National Institutes of Health, and scores of researchers regarded as the international rock stars of neuroscience.

Pharmacist Narender Dhallan winces as he looks at a computer screen in his drugstore on a recent morning. For the second time in two hours, he has to decide whether to fill a prescription and lose money or send his customer away.

This time it's for a generic antifungal cream that cost him $180 wholesale. The customer's insurance, however, will pay Dhallan only $60 to fill it.

"This used to be something that would happen once in a rare, rare while," Dhallan says. "Now it's becoming routine."

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We've been reporting on the Napa State Hospital in California. Five years ago this week, an employee there was killed by a psychiatric patient. It's still a dangerous place. Steve Seager is a psychiatrist there.

Updated 5:08 p.m. ET

Nearly one year after Kaci Hickox was quarantined in New Jersey upon her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, she is suing Gov. Chris Christie and state health department officials. She says they unlawfully detained her.

Represented by the ACLU of New Jersey and two New York law firms, Hickox claims that she was held against her will for three days, even after she tested negative for Ebola.

The muppet Julia has not yet made her TV debut, but the wide-eyed little girl with a big smile is the star of her own "digital storybook" called "We're Amazing, 1,2,3."

Sarah Silverman is best-known for her comedy. But the new film I Smile Back is a drama, in which she plays a woman who suffers from profound depression.

It's a subject with which the comedian is intimately familiar.

Silverman tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that she first experienced depression as a young teen. "The depression I experienced [felt] like a chemical change," she says. "It was like my perspective of the world changed about three degrees, and everything I saw was different."

Vaccination rates against human papillomavirus have remained far lower than rates for other routine childhood and teen immunizations. But a big reason for those low rates comes from a surprising source.

It's not hesitant parents refusing the vaccine. Rather, primary care doctors treat the HPV vaccine differently from other routinely recommended immunizations, hesitating to recommend it fully and on time and approaching their discussions with parents differently, a study finds.

A woman finds a lump in her breast.

And for a long time, she doesn't tell anybody. Not her family. And not her doctor.

That happens all too often in low- and lower-middle-income countries, says Dr. Ben Anderson, a surgical oncologist who is the director of the Breast Health Global Initiative at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Miners in South Africa have some of the highest rates of silicosis in the world. Silicosis is an incurable and degenerative lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which is created in gold mining during blasting. Now, thousands of current and former South African miners are asking the country's highest court for the right to proceed with a lawsuit against the gold mining industry. They argue that mining companies failed to protect their health.

Christine Ha made quite an entrance on season three of the Fox television show Master Chef.

Now, that's a lousy day in the market.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals, already under fire for its drug-pricing policies, was accused on Wednesday of creating phantom sales to falsely inflate revenues.

The allegations were made by Citron Research, a short-selling firm, in a report entitled, "Could this be the Pharmaceutical Enron?"

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



In 2010, Rodney Bock was arrested for carrying a loaded gun into a restaurant in Yuba City, Calif., north of Sacramento. Bock had severe mental illness and was later found incompetent to stand trial. He was released on bail, but was rearrested after he failed to appear at a court hearing.

Bock, 56, was placed in the Sutter County jail, awaiting transfer to a state hospital. While there, he began suffering hallucinations. After more than two weeks in jail, Bock hanged himself.

SIU Healthcare Expands Services In Decatur

Oct 21, 2015
Decatur Memorial Hospital

An expanded healthcare collaboration will save more Decatur residents from having to travel out of town to get specialized care.

This month, NPR is shining a spotlight on 15-year-old girls — and we've invited our audience members to share their own stories about being 15.

The girls in our #15Girls series face big challenges and have big dreams. We've met girls so intimidated by the gang violence in El Salvador that they're afraid to leave home — and one girl who became a paramedic to help victims.

This week, Kathmandu is a city of goats.

People are walking goats on leashes on the sidewalk. On motorcycles, goats are sandwiched between the driver and the passenger. They teeter precariously on bus roof racks.

And Nepalis are eviscerating freshly butchered goats by the roadside in the suburbs, while the goat head boils nearby on an impromptu wood fire.

The Right Medicare Drug Plan Can Help Control Price Shocks

Oct 21, 2015

When Mildred Fine received the annual notice informing her about changes to her Medicare prescription drug plan for 2016, she was shocked. If she stayed with the same plan, her monthly premium would more than triple, from $33.90 to $121.10, and her annual deductible would rise from $320 to $360.

Stephanie Nichols is a stay-at-home mom in Boston. She's 44 now and says she first thought about getting a mammogram when she turned 40.

"I had heard from a number of friends all around the same age that they're all getting mammograms," she says. So it came as no surprise when her doctor brought up the topic at her next routine exam.

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Here's a troubling statistic about drug abuse. In West Virginia, the number of heroin overdoses has increased almost fivefold in the last five years. President Obama heads there today. Here's West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Roxy Todd.