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

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.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States. More than three times as many children are obese today compared to a generation ago. 

In Central Texas, some of the highest childhood obesity rates can be found in the Southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs. The area has attracted the attention of social scientists who are looking at everything from the built environment, to the number of parks, to the socio-economic demographics, to the availability of healthy food.

It’s that last item – access to fresh produce in particular – that is the focus of an effort by Austin’s Sustainable Food Center. The non-profit has partnered with other groups to set up a temporary produce stand at the Dove Springs Recreation Center for three hours on Wednesdays for part of the summer.

flickr.com/nagamori

After an unprecedented outbreak of West Nile virus in Texas last year, the state has seen half of the reported cases compared to this time last year.

But, despite the decrease, the Department of State Health Services says environmental factors and the disease's unpredictability don't necessarily guarantee a safe summer for Texans.

ocw.jhsph.edu/

Yesterday was Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates progress and societal advancement of African-Americans in Texas. While there is plenty to celebrate, some advocates in Austin are still trying to promote mental health and overcome treatment barriers for African-Americans in Austin.

And, although African-Americans are just as likely to encounter mental health problems as the rest of the population, there are fewer options when it comes to seeking help.  

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Austin resident Alyshia Foster grew up outside Dallas. When she was nine, she started taking medication to deal with depression.

“There had been this festering ugliness and self-hatred and I felt it was killing everything beautiful about it and I didn’t know what it was," Foster said.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation. About 75 percent of Americans will contract the virus during their lifetime, and younger populations face the greatest risk.

Research indicates that almost three quarters of new HPV infections occur in people between 15 and 24 years old. But a recent study conducted by researchers at Texas State University found that many college students are unaware of or misinformed about the risks posed by HPV.

Todd Wiseman/Blake Thompson

Texas received federal approval in May to begin more than 1,100 experimental projects that could transform the way health care is delivered to the state’s poor and uninsured.

An obviously unhappy Judge Edward Korman has approved the Obama administration's proposal to make just one formulation of the morning-after birth control pill available over the counter without age restrictions.

But in a testily worded six-page memorandum, the federal district judge made it clear he is not particularly pleased with the outcome. He has been overseeing the case in one way or another for more than eight years.

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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. 

Flickr/Shanana Rain Golden-Bear http://www.flickr.com/photos/52283904@N04/7630626680/

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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