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Oklahoma Watch

The cash crisis at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which was years in the making, raises questions about which agencies and state officials could have caught the agency’s reported financial mismanagement.

At first glance, state government appears to have the powers and expertise to detect  financial irregularities occurring at the health department from 2011 to 2017.

Oklahoma Watch

The state’s multicounty grand jury is looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health as top officers continue to resign or get forced out in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.

Sam Ward / Reveal

In Texas, women with limited access to abortions are traveling across the border to find a drug that will induce miscarriages. In Mississippi, anti-abortion groups are opening crisis pregnancy centers across from abortion clinics to persuade women to keep their babies. And one company offers permanent birth control through the insertion of a simple device – that’s ended up causing health complications for thousands of women. This week, we look into pregnancy and the ways people try to prevent it, end it and save it.

Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma State Department of Health went more than a year without a chief financial officer, and questions later arose about whether the agency overestimated revenues and used restricted federal funds to fill the gaps, sources told Oklahoma Watch.

However, a former chief financial officer at the agency said he had no knowledge of restricted funds being used to cover shortfalls.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

A cash crunch that emerged over the summer at the state Health Department goes beyond the state’s current budget shortfall and caused the department to reach out to public health agencies in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties for help in shoring up its finances.

Reveal: Too Many Pills

Oct 23, 2017
Photo illustration by Michael I Schiller for Reveal. Photo of pill bottle and hands by Frankie Leon via Flickr

Drug overdoses now are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, largely thanks to a surge in opioid use. Although heroin and fentanyl have dominated the headlines in recent years, the problem started with a flood of prescription painkillers, distributed by some of the country’s biggest corporations.

Audiologist Jillian Detwiler reviews a patient’s hearing aid function at the John W. Keys Speech and Hearing Center in Oklahoma City. Detwiler oversees the Cabaret Hearing For Seniors Program, which provides high-quality hearing aids for $100 a pair.
Warren Vieth / Oklahoma Watch

When the government began providing health coverage to millions of older Americans five decades ago, it specifically excluded hearing aids.

Hearing loss among the aged was not a life-endangering medical condition, the reasoning went. Good hearing was not considered essential to good health.

That view has changed. Hearing specialists say the consequences of untreated hearing loss can be substantial, from impaired job performance and damaged relationships to social withdrawal, anxiety, depression and possibly even accelerated dementia.

Rehab Work Camps Were About To Be Regulated. Then A Friend Stepped In

Oct 18, 2017
Oklahoma House of Representatives

This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, here.

Elizabeth Sims / Oklahoma Watch

At least nine student athletes in Putnam City Public Schools suffered a concussion playing sports last school year.

More than a dozen sustained one in Norman Public Schools.

In Tulsa Public Schools, 38 students suffered a concussion in the 2016-2017 school year, with the district reporting 13 more in the first six weeks of this year. Edmond Public Schools’ three high schools recorded 62 concussions.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma is blaming the Trump administration for failing to approve an expedited plan that was projected to lower health insurance premiums and entice thousands of uninsured Oklahomans to sign up for coverage.

Reports Of Drug-Exposed Newborns Surge

Sep 28, 2017
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services logged 517 reports last year of newborn infants who tested positive for controlled drugs or alcohol. The number of reported exposures has risen steadily, but it's unclear how much is due to rising drug use and how
Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma health-care professionals reported to the state a record 517 cases of newborn infants who tested positive for dangerous drugs or alcohol last year, up from 320 when officials began compiling statistics in 2013.

State officials said they couldn’t determine how much of the 62 percent increase was attributable to rising drug use among pregnant women and how much to improved reporting and testing by health care personnel.

In Search of New Ways To Tame Opioid Crisis

Sep 18, 2017
Images Money / Flickr

Oklahoma is among the nation’s leaders in combating the opioid epidemic in some ways, but lags in others.

The question of what more Oklahoma can do to reduce the hundreds of fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers each year will hover over the 2018 legislative session. A commission chaired by Attorney General Mike Hunter plans to recommend by Dec. 1 new strategies for attacking the problem. Some or all of its proposals will be folded into legislation.

Autopsies Reveal A March Of Infant Deaths Tied To Unsafe Sleeping

Aug 25, 2017
Taffy Henderson, a maternal and child health promotion specialist with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, puts a doll into a crib that is meant to show what a safe-sleeping environment looks like. Henderson uses the crib to demonstrate safe-sleep
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

In October of last year, a 2-month-old infant from Kiowa County died after co-sleeping with her parents.

Her mother woke up to find her father’s arm partially obscuring her face, according to an autopsy report, which attributed her death to probable asphyxiation due to “overlay.”

In May of last year, a 6-month-old Tulsa County infant died from suffocation after co-sleeping with an adult and a sibling on an adult bed. The baby was found unresponsive between the mattress and wall with his face in a pillow.

The day of the long-awaited coast-to-coast solar eclipse has arrived — and if history is any guide, it's likely that somebody's eyes are going to get hurt.

a stack of dollar bills with a stethoscope and bottle of pills
James Martin / Flickr

Oklahoma is preparing to unveil a $350 million plan designed to reduce health insurance premiums and avert a scenario where the state is left with no provider offering plans on the federally run marketplace.

But the effort comes with a catch:  The more than 1.7 million Oklahomans who receive health insurance outside of the marketplace, including from employers, would pay more – a per-person fee of up to $60 a year.

The fee is part of a federal waiver the state is seeking to begin a reinsurance program through the Affordable Care Act or the GOP’s proposed replacement plan.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

For some low-income children in Oklahoma, summer does not mean vacation and playtime — It means being hungry. The lunch and breakfast these kids receive at school is no longer readily available, so they often go without — or they eat junk food. And while Oklahoma has summer food programs to combat this, there are roadblocks for many children.

Susan Holmes stands on the front porch of her home in Bokoshe, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny community of Bokoshe is flanked by old mines, which companies are filling with thousands of tons of waste produced by the coal-fired power plant down the road.

A woman pulls a suitcase along NE 23rd Street near N. Spencer Road in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Oklahoma City residents’ life expectancies vary greatly across the city. Among all ZIP codes, the difference between the highest life expectancy and the lowest is 18 years.

According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s new wellness report, residents in the  73131 ZIP code have a life expectancy of 82 years, while their neighbors in the next door 73141 ZIP code live for an average of less than 68 years - a similar expectancy as developing countries such as Cambodia and Iraq.

Children eat a meal at an orphanage.
Marina Kroupina / Center for Neurobehavioral Development, University of Minnesota

Making sure people across the globe have access to proper nutrition is a goal of international organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

But sometimes, simply acquiring the right nutrients isn’t enough, especially if outside factors get in the way of allowing the body to process nutrients correctly.

Oklahoma Attorney General's Office

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the formation of a state task force to combat opioid addiction on Wednesday.  

The Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse will consist of nine members, including lawmakers, law enforcement, a dentist, a pharmacist, a nurse and a doctor. It will consider policy changes to prevent, treat and intervene in opioid addiction.

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