Health

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

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Texas and its capitol city are increasingly touted as great retirement destinations. But according to a recent study, the state ranks 48th in money spent on senior healthcare and 39th overall, in a national survey by United Health Foundation.

The study from the health care giant found that 820,000 Texas seniors were physically inactive, which led to nearly 20 percent of seniors spending at least a week in intensive care in the final six months of their lives.

Courtesy Austin Food For Life

Austin's food scene is booming, but how are its workers faring?

The city has long had HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) as a stopgap for musicians without health care. As Austin’s food scene rises to national prominence, Karla Loeb and her partner Brian Stubbs have seen a similar need for the city's chefs, busboys, servers and even farmers.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Health care protestors who interrupted Gov. Rick Perry during a speech yesterday afternoon were surprised that he offered to meet with them in exchange for letting him continue his talk.   

Gov. Perry has called Medicaid “broken” and a “fool’s errand.” Despite his adamant stance against expanding the entitlement program, at least 20 protesters with the Texas Organizing Project wanted to discuss it with him.

Great Britain is in the midst of a measles epidemic, one that public health officials say is the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children after a safety scare that was later proved to be fraudulent.

More than 1,200 people have come down with measles so far this year, following nearly 2,000 cases in 2012. Many of the cases have been in Wales.

http://facebook.com/mealsonwheelsaustin

A non-profit organization that provides food to elderly and homebound people is asking Travis County for money to help deal with the sequester. Those across-the-board federal spending cuts include about $120,000 that would have gone to a local Meals on Wheels program that pays for food to be delivered to senior centers run by the city or the county. 

The organization is requesting $61,000 from Travis County to pay for the "Congregate Meals Program." 

Flickr/Camilla Nilsson http://www.flickr.com/photos/49365126@N07/5489383908/

Victims of spousal abuse in Austin have a new option if their children are to receive supervised visits with the other parent. Travis County has opened PlanetSafe at 11th and Nueces, a supervised visitation and safe exchange center.  Its grand opening is today. 

The facility is operated by the local non-profit Safe Place, and was established with the help of $600,000 in federal grants from the Office of Violence Against Women. Travis County supplied the use of the building for a nominal rent and is paying for staffing. 

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The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on states to toughen drunk driving laws, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving says there are better ways to fight drinking and driving.

The NTSB recommends lowering the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05 percent from the current 0.08 percent.

Flickr, Jim Mullhaupt http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimpic/7808892188/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Texas health authorities are expanding their warning that some people should not eat certain fish from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says high levels of mercury mean women of childbearing age and children 12 and younger should eat no amount of species, including Blackfin tuna, blue marlin, king mackerel, wahoo, shark or swordfish.

So you know all that talk about how the boatload of money going to health care will bankrupt the nation if something isn't done soon?

Well, it turns out that while politicians were bickering, the problem started taking care of itself. Well, a little bit.

Bobby Blanchard/KUT News

The City of Austin is offering a free, easy and anonymous way to dispose of expired prescription drugs.

The city will host its annual drug take-back day this Saturday at three locations around town, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The three take-back locations in Austin are Cornerstone Church, City of Austin Household Hazardous Waste Facility and Barton Creek Square Mall. At these locations, residents can anonymously drop of drugs and syringes in a way that is environmentally safe.

The toll from a new flu strain is mounting in China.

Forty-three people have been sickened and 11 have died from the virus, the World Health Organization said Friday.

The pace of infections has quickened over the past few days, with three to five cases reported daily.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Almost once every hour a U.S. military veteran takes his or her life. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, on average.

Austin veteran Andrew O’Brien almost become one of them. He survived a suicide attempt in 2010, after returning from a 12-month deployment to Iraq. Now he’s telling his story to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and military suicides. 

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Update: The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is holding a meeting this afternoon to present and outline key goals and objectives of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).  The action-oriented plan is designed to improve the health of Austin and Travis County residents. It will highlight community health issues like obesity and access to primary care.

The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. at City Hall.

University of Texas at Austin

Imagine this scenario: your throat aches; you're sneezing; and you feel chilly and fatigued. A cold? Maybe. The flu? Possibly. You sneeze into a specially formulated tissue, and the resulting color transformation in the tissue gives you your answer.

KUT News

The number of women served by a state family planning program in Travis County dropped 90 percent over two years, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

That happened as funding dropped by about the same amount, which contributed to the closure of seven family planning clinics.

UT’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project released a web app today that measures the impact of cuts to the Department of State Health Services' family planning programs.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate unanimously approved two bills Wednesday to reform the beleaguered Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas amid continuing controversy over grant awards.

Texas Tribune

  The private foundation that’s given financial support to the state’s troubled cancer-fighting agency says it’s shutting down.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – known as CPRIT – has its own problems. The agency is being investigated for its handling of some taxpayer-funded grants.

On Tuesday, though, it was the private foundation formed to supplement the salaries of CPRIT’s top executives that brought the wrath of state lawmakers.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The biggest Republicans in Texas stood side-by-side today and argued against expanding Texas Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said it doesn’t matter if the federal government has offered to cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

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Texas is trying to help some Medicaid recipients with behavioral disorders improve their health. 

The state’s health department has embarked on a $10 million dollar project aimed at preventing people with mental health or substance abuse issues from developing chronic diseases.

Last summer Bill Gates and his foundation held a competition to reinvent the toilet. Now he's hoping to do the same for condoms.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting up $100,000 to the best proposal for a more fun and pleasurable condom.

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