Health

Texas
11:12 am
Mon January 20, 2014

In These Gyms, Nobody Cares How You Look In Yoga Pants

Kendall Schrantz, center, stretches after a class at Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth.
Lauren Silverman for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:46 am

If you want to lift weights or use the treadmill at Downsize Fitness, you have to be at least 50 pounds overweight.

Kendall Schrantz is a fan – and a member.

The 24-year-old has struggled with her weight since she was in the second grade. The looks she got at other gyms made her uncomfortable.

But now she drives more than an hour to Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth three times a week, just to exercise.

"It's worth every single penny I paid for gas," she said. "It's worth the time I spend on the road, the miles."

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Health
8:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Child is Season's 9th Travis County Flu Death

H1N1 virus as seen through an electron microscope
CDC

Nine deaths from influenza in Travis County this flu season represent just one measure of how severe the season has been.

Dr. Phil Huang, Medical Director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, notes that cases started showing up earlier in the season, toward the end of 2013, and that patients under the age of 60 were among the most severely affected. 

"Definitely what we're seeing is worse than what we've seen in some past seasons," Dr. Huang said, "and also the population that's being affected with some of the more severe illness is a younger population than what we were seeing." 

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Health
5:30 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Pregnant Woman Kept On Life Support Despite Family's Wishes

Erick and Marlise Munoz are pictured with their first child, Mateo, who is now 15 months old. (Courtesy of the family)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:13 pm

A 33-year-old Texas woman named Marlise Munoz has been connected to life support machines for more than a month, after she collapsed on the kitchen floor of her home.

Her husband says she would not have wanted to be kept alive this way, but the hospital has refused to follow that wish, citing a Texas law that forbids medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient.

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Health
1:46 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Defibrillators Save Lives, But Experts Say They're Scarce in Austin

Photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/mloberg/

All the holiday stress, dehydration and alcohol consumption at this time of the year can lead to something called “holiday heart syndrome.” It’s an irregular heartbeat that often presents in people who are otherwise healthy.

If someone collapses around you, you might be able to save their lives with an automated external defibrillator, or AED. But public health experts say there aren’t nearly enough of them out there. 

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Health Care
8:11 am
Wed December 11, 2013

14,000 Texans Signed Up for Obamacare Plans

The Obama administration says technical tweaks to the health care website are making it easier for Americans to sign up for insurance.
healthcare.gov

Early technical issues with the new healthcare marketplace, HealthCare.gov, brought serious criticism to an already controversial government initiative. But a new report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services suggests that the tides may be turning for Obamacare.

By the end of November, coverage plan enrollment numbers for Texans had jumped to 14,000 – that’s up from 3,000 the month before.

And many more Texans are on their way to enrolling. According to the same report, nearly a quarter of a million Texans have applied for coverage and are waiting to choose a Marketplace plan. Those numbers are actually the second highest in the nation for states that are supported or fully run by a federal (rather than a state-implemented) healthcare Marketplace.

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Health
7:52 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Heroin In The 'Burbs: Women Moving From Pain Pills To The Hard Stuff

Sara Kendall, 26, lives in Oak Cliff with her son Jaxon. Kendall got hooked on prescription pain pills in high school, and then heroin. She got sober with the help of Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas, which she still visits to share her story.
Lauren Silverman KERA News

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:57 am

When a heroin epidemic swept through North Texas in the 1990s, it left at least two dozen young people dead. Then the drug seemed to go into hibernation.

Now the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it’s seeing an alarming number of women from affluent Dallas suburbs buying heroin. And, for many, the addiction begins with prescription pain pills.

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Childhood Obesity
11:28 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Could a 'Healthy Food Zone' Keep Fast Food Away from Austin Schools?

A “healthy food zone” ordinance on track for 2016 could prohibit new fast food restaurants from opening near schools and parks.
flickr.com/dno1967b

A “healthy food zone” ordinance could be in the works for areas surrounding Austin schools, parks, recreation centers, libraries and child care centers. And that could potentially mean a prohibition on new fast food restaurants in those areas.

In an effort to battle childhood obesity, the City of Austin and Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services have developed a Community Health Improvement Plan. One of the priorities in the plan is creating healthier environments for children. To that end, the plan has an objective of creating “healthy food zones” around specific areas by June 2016.

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Health
2:01 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Maps: Austin Health Disparities at Birth

In areas that are orange and red, the percentage of women with inadequate prenatal care exceeds the Travis County average.

A new study shows how Travis County’s low-income areas are home to inadequate prenatal care and troublesome birth outcomes – including a racial disparity in neonatal intensive care unit admissions.

The study, released at the Birth Outcomes Summit at Dell Children’s Hospital, uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Texas Department of State Health Services.

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Halloween
1:16 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Austin Dentists Will Buy Back Your Kid's Halloween Candy

Don’t get too attached: A national program has dentists buying back Halloween sweets, and shipping the treats to troops overseas.
flickr.com/tifotter

Here’s a new Halloween practice some dentists see as a treat: Halloween candy buybacks.

Once the little ones have finished trick-or-treating this year, Austin pediatric dentists are ready to buy back their Halloween candy –  at a buck a pound.

The buyback program is a part of Operation Gratitude. Annually, Operation Gratitude sends more than 100,000 packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and letters of support – including Halloween candy – to U.S. service members deployed in hostile regions.

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Breast Milk
1:06 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Austin's Nonprofit Breast Milk Bank Needs Donations

Austin's breast milk bank launched a campaign this week to promote donations in the Austin area.
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin

A report this week in the journal Pediatrics on the risks of  unregulated breast milk – covering sharing between friends, but also Internet sales – found three-fourths of the study samples were contaminated with bacteria.

The populations most at risk from such milk are newborns with significant health issues. They’re children like Nina DeGuire. Now a year old, she was born with a serious heart problem that required a series of surgeries and made it hard for her to take formula. Her mother Lani says she had no choice but to find donated breast milk.

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In Black America Podcast
3:09 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

Life Is Sweet for 'Chocolate Heals' Author Marcia L. Williams

Marcia L. Williams, author of “Chocolate Heals: Life Is Sweet.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Marcia L. Williams, author of “Chocolate Heals: Life is Sweet.”   

After being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, Williams decided to help others who may be experiencing tough times. Her love for baking was the perfect vehicle to get her message of hope out to those in need. Determined to provide inspiration to others after her diagnosis, she has pledged to impact the people in her own backyard – other cancer survivors and their families and friends.

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Affordable Care Act
9:02 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Houston Gears Up For Obamacare, Despite GOP Opposition

Enroll America outreach worker Rosy Mota (right) talks about the federal health care law with a CVS customer.
Carrie Feibel

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:26 am

Two high-profile Texans are fighting the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Rick Perry has loudly dismissed the law, and fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor this week to rail against it at length — 21 hours and 19 minutes to be exact.

On the other side of the issue, you have Rosy Mota and her clipboard, standing at the door of a CVS pharmacy in one of Houston's Latino neighborhoods, stopping shoppers.

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Tobacco Tax
12:13 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Smoking Study Suggests Tobacco Tax Could Fund Texas Preschools

A new study suggests a 94-cent tax hike on cigarettes would help fund Texas preschools.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Results of a new study by Gallup suggest smoking causes U.S. employers to lose $278 billion annually. That's due to smokers missing work for smoke breaks and because of additional health care costs compared to employees who don't smoke.

The data comes a day after another study, "Raising Smart, Healthy Kids in Every State" was released. It argues states would benefit from a 94-cent tax hike on cigarettes, as proposed by President Barack Obama. 

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Health
10:25 am
Fri September 13, 2013

E-Cigarettes Taking Off In Texas

In Texas, it really is the Wild West for electronic cigarettes. Without clear guidelines on where you can use them, it’s inhale before inquire.
Shutterstock

You won’t find the Marlboro Man pushing tobacco on TV anymore, but you will find other familiar faces flaunting electronic cigarettes. Celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, Stephen Dorff and Courtney Love have signed on to pitch the devices, and national sales of e-cigarettes have caught fire.

In North Texas, e-cigarettes are big business, even though physicians worry they aren’t as benign as we’re being told. There are very few rules on where you can use them, so usually, it’s inhale before you inquire.

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Texas
8:08 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Texas Has Highest Percentage of People Without Health Insurance

CDC/ Debora Cartagena

Texas continues to lead the country in the percentage of uninsured people under 65. That has been a trend for at least the last five years.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show more than one in four people under 65 did not have health insurance – that was more than 5.7 million people in 2011.

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Austin
2:22 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Over 62,000 New STD Cases Estimated in Travis County

Condoms can drastically reduce the risk of several sexually transmitted diseases.
flickr.com/robertelyov

Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services says sexually transmitted diseases are costing Travis County residents lots of money.

The department says more than 62,000 new cases of STDs were diagnosed in Travis County in 2011 alone. That’s estimated to cost over $83 million in lifetime medical costs.

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Health
8:33 am
Thu August 8, 2013

How Central Health, Seton & UT's Medical School Want to Change Health Care Forever

UT's medical school is one player in a community-wide effort to improve health and health care.
flickr.com/ejmc

Launching a new medical school is a major undertaking. But launching the University of Texas’ new medical school – in tandem with a new model of treating the sick and preventing illness – is even bigger.

When Austin voters approved Proposition 1 last year, increasing the property tax collected by Central Health, the measure was commonly referred to as the medical school initiative. But instead of financing the building of a medical school, taxpayer dollars are going toward a new medical program aiding the uninsured and under-insured. And yes, UT’s Dell Medical School is a part of that.

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Health
12:01 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Closing the Health Gap in East Austin

Community organizations are working to close the gap in public health disparities between ethnic groups in two Austin neighborhoods. They're trying to get sidewalks on streets to create more walkable neighborhoods.
Healthy People, Healthy Places Austin

This month marks the one-year anniversary of a project between the City of Austin and the UT's School of Public Health to reduce the gap in public health between ethnic groups in Austin.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

While Texas Restricts Abortions, Mexico Braces for a Boom

Women and girls cross the U.S. border into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico every day trying to put an end to their pregnancies. The one room clinic of Dr. Celia Gomez is one of the first clinics people find right across the border checkpoint.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

It also increases requirements for clinics and doctors that provide abortions. Clinics have a little over a year to upgrade to ambulatory surgical centers. Several clinics are expected to close, leaving women in poor and rural areas the most affected.

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Health
11:02 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Austin 'Death Cafe' Breathes New Life Into Age Old Subject

Jo Jensen (L) and Brooks Kasson will host Austin's first Death Cafe later this month.
Roy Varney for KUT News

Death Cafe may sound like a new Tim Burton film or goth band. But instead, it’s a growing group of meetings where participants spend hours discussing their hopes and fears surrounding death and dying.

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