Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

In a report released today, Texas Care for Children is recommending lawmakers restore funding in public services to improve children’s well-being and save money.

The report says Texas is spending up to $20 billion annually because the state does less to respond to the well-being of its children. The report points to the state’s rates of children living in poverty and teen pregnancies. The rate of children are living in poverty, 27 percent, is seven percent higher than the national average. And there are 52.2 teen births per 1000 teenagers — 20 births more than the national average.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Two state lawmakers who led the charge to create the now-embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) unveiled legislation today that they say will fix the $3 billion agency. A state audit found major problems with how CPRIT doled out grants, and the taxpayer-funded organization is under criminal investigation.

State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) said today that CPRIT officials interpreted policies in ways that no "reasonable person would."

Michael Thomas/AP Images for Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation announced a ten year commitment to turn Austin in a center of health care excellence. The foundation is donating $50 million to the University of Texas’s new medical school. It will be called the Dell Medical School.

The foundation also pledged $10 million to Austin and Travis County community health quality and access programs over the next decade.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A state audit has revealed that transparency problems at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas extend beyond the improper review of an $11 million commercialization grant that sparked criminal and civil investigations.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Washington’s health care law has prompted some hospitals to change how they care for patients who are at the greatest risk of being readmitted. One program at the Seton Healthcare Family aims to spend a little to save a lot.

Carla Herber has worked in hospitals since she was a teenager. In her senior year of high school, she completed her EMT training.

OB-GYNs Told to Look For 'Reproductive Coercion'

Jan 24, 2013

Womens' doctors should be on the lookout for patients whose partners are unduly pressuring them to become pregnant — or even sabotaging their efforts to use contraception.

That's the advice from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which just published recommendations for doctors about reproductive and sexual coercion.

Lance McCord/Flickr

University of Texas at Austin is trying to boost efforts to protect students and staff from catching the flu. The University Health Service Office will provide flu shots Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Students Service Building’s Glenn Maloney Room.   

"Because of the increase in flu cases, huge demand and the telephone calls we were getting about folks wanting flu shots, we scheduled an additional flu shots clinic," Sherry Bell, senior program coordinator for University Health Service said.

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. But in some states, access to facilities that perform abortions remains limited.

In part, that stems from another Supreme Court ruling from 20 years ago that let states impose regulations that don't cause an "undue burden" on a woman's abortion rights.

The cedar fever season might have arrived a little late this year, but it is packing a punch now that it is here.

The Allergy and Asthma Center in Georgetown reported a pollen count of 6,646 grains per liter of air on Monday, a new high for the season. Caused by the pollen of mountain cedar (or ashe juniper) trees, cedar fever plagues Central Texas every winter, leaving its victims with a cough, sore throat, and a runny nose.


Fewer than 1 in 5 Austinites identifies as a smoker, according to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. And those who smoke are finding it harder to do so -- Austin bars, restaurants and parks ban smoking. Major employers like UT and Samsung prohibit smoking on their campuses.

Now there’s a push to ban smoking at bar and restaurant patios as well.

The familiar orange water coolers are poised to return to Austin’s hike and bike trail, after the city council agreed today to waive permitting fees for the businesses that operate the watering stations.

RunTex has been bringing water to Lady Bird Lake since 1990, but the coolers were removed last November after concerns about their security and sanitation. 

Paul Carrozza of RunTex estimates that his store spends $100,000 a year transporting water and ice to the trails. The store spends $3,000 a month in paper cups alone.

UT researchers have developed 61 new strains of genetically-engineered bacteria, which they say could improve and transform vaccines.

The strains of E. Coli are part of a new class of adjuvants, which are substances mixed in with vaccines that stimulate and improve the human body’s immune response to vaccinations. M. Stephen Trent, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at UT who worked on the research, said these new strains gives the medical field more options for vaccine development.

An early, widespread flu outbreak in Texas is putting a strain on the supply of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, a Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson said Wednesday.

Tamiflu is a prescription drug that both fights flu symptoms and prevents the spread of the flu to the rest of the body. But because of Texas’ flu outbreak, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said there are small spot shortages of the drug.

Flickr user edolnx,

The Commissioners Court didn’t renew an Austin/Travis County EMS contract last night. They’ll wait until next week to do that. But county commissioners did show some love for a new proposal that would create a unit of paramedics roaming the city in trucks tending to those sick and injured Austinites in need of assistance.

Sounds familiar right? Strangely enough, they’re not ambulances.

Today President Obama is expected to release details of proposals from a gun violence task force convened in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

In the days following Sandy Hook, many experts and pundits spoke of the need for better mental health care and screening.

 Audio FileSafePlace and Austin Children's Shelter form LIFT AllianceEdit | Remove

Family violence affects more than 18,000 Austin women and children each year. Now two local non-profit groups are joining forces to address the problem.

SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter are coming together to form LIFT Alliance. The alliance will allow kids at the Austin Children’s Shelter to attend a school operated by SafePlace. In return, clients at SafePlace can take part in the teen parenting program at the children’s shelter.

The number of suicide deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year — more than the 295 Americans who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2012. The numbers were first reported by the AP; NPR has confirmed them.

CDC/ Judy Schmidt

Hospitals and clinics in Austin and Travis County are reporting high levels of flu activity. Across Texas, six kids have died so far this year from flu-related illnesses.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Hispanics are 10 percent less likely to get vaccinated than non-Hispanic whites. According to a CDC survey, in March of 2012, less than 40 percent of Hispanic adults had been vaccinated. That's compared to around 50 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.

Tamir Kalifa/Texas Tribune

Updated, Friday, 4:55 p.m.:

Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Friday refused to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction to be included in the Texas Women’s Health Program. 

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.