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

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate's Nominations committee confirmed Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Dr. Kyle Janek as the head of the state’s largest healthcare service provider for low-income and aging Texans – the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Janek spoke to Sen. Jane Nelson about the future of funding and providing Medicaid services for Texans, asserting that the state should take a more streamlined approach to providing and funding healthcare.

The University of Texas at Austin is now officially, 100 percent smoke free. 

The policy takes full-effect today. But it started last year when the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas announced it would not fund research for any institution that allowed smoking on-site. In April, UT set up 15 temporary smoking locations. But those go away today.

Daniel Reese, KUT News

New Jersey’s Chris Christie is the latest Republican Governor to change his mind and accept the federal Medicaid expansion in his state. The move is emboldening groups in Texas who would like to see Governor Perry also accept the provision of the Affordable Care Act.

John Hawkins is a policy analyst with the Texas Hospital Association. He says hospitals in the state provide $5 billion annually in uncompensated care.

It's a moment many parents dread — sitting down to talk with their kid about drugs. What should they say? Will the conversation have any effect? And should they mention their own youthful indiscretions?

Parents can get advice from the family doctor or pediatrician and places like the Partnership at (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), though there's not been much evidence to back up the recommendations.

Call at Capitol for More Money for Texas Women's Health

Feb 21, 2013

Women’s Health programs may be getting more funding this legislative session.

A group of senators led by Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson is recommending a spending boost of $100 million.

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

For the 11th year running, deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S in 2010.

Pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of the 38,329 overdose deaths that year.

Opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone, or Vicodin, were the most common prescription drugs implicated. They were cited in 16,651 fatalities, or 44 percent of the total.

Ann Choi, KUT News

A new poll finds support for state-funded family planning from Texans across race, religion and party affiliation.

The survey by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found more than 70 percent of registered Texas voters support family planning funding such as birth control. The finding includes groups thought to be more socially conservative, like Republican women, Hispanics and Catholics.

A new report finds serious breakdowns in procedures and safeguards by state-run hospitals across Texas.

The year-long investigation was by Disability Rights Texas—an organization designated by federal law to protect people with disabilities.

The report is titled “Turning a Blind Eye" and is focused on systemic failures within the state agencies that Disability Rights Texas says dismissed patient safety.

If your Valentine goes into cardiac arrest during dinner, Austin-Travis County EMS wants you to know how to help.

Austin-Travis County EMS is hosting free, hands-only CPR training sessions at Barton Creek Square mall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. 

KUT News

Calls to the area’s health and human services hotline asking for information about food pantries were up 55 percent over the past year, according to a report released this week by United Way for Greater Austin.

The nonprofit group says the jump represents calls from people who can’t provide food for their families that day or within the week.

Cans of the popular flavored malt beverage Four Loko will soon sport an "Alcohol Facts" label to make it plain they pack a potent punch.

The changes are part of a final settlement announced Tuesday between the Federal Trade Commission and Phusion Projects, whose products have been blamed for hospitalizations and deaths among young people.

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.