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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.

Tamiko Cabatic prepares blood samples for blood typing and screening at the Oklahoma Blood Institute in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

 

Oklahoma City’s biotech industry is budding, but politics, investment and education are hampering its growth.

The Journal Record’s Catherine Sweeney reports the industry attracts billions of dollars annually. However, some pieces of legislation have branded the state as “anti-research,” poor education funding limits the number of students who can work in STEM field, and investors are leery of the state.

Emergency Department director Dr. Robin Mantooth and Chief Operating Officer John Manfredo lead a tour of the department at Norman Regional Health System’s new hospital building in Moore on January 17, 2017.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

One of Oklahoma’s health information exchanges will close. Coordinated Care Oklahoma announced on Monday that the non-profit organization plans to fold.

Health information exchanges let healthcare providers share and access records across hospitals. Journal Record reporter Sarah Terry Cobo writes that Coordinated Care  as in the process of merging with a competitor called MyHealth Access Network before making its sudden decision.

Shanna Burge begins a patient’s radiology test at Southern Plains Medical Group in Chickasha.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A provider in Chickasha wants to cut out the middle man when it comes to a discount health plan. The Southern Plains Medical Group has a new service where local employers pay a one-time fee per worker, and then a monthly fee.

Provided

Early results from nationwide study indicates a new artificial heart pump could lead to fewer complications and better health outcomes.

Two local cardiologists at Integris co-authored research published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, according to The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo:

State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, on the Senate floor Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, plans to explore vaccination issues during the 2017 legislative session.

In an interview Friday morning, the Oklahoma City Republican told eCapitol’s Tyler Talley vaccination rates have plummeted over the last decade, and he said it’s his duty as a physician to advocate for vaccinations:

He explained that there was once a 95 percent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination rate among kindergartners in Oklahoma.

Leah Thompson Carter, of Bartlesville, lost her son to a prescription drug overdose and is afraid she will lose another. Here, she speaks at the Suicide Awareness Summit in Bartlesville in September.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

For many Oklahomans, the tug of war between drug addiction and the wait time for treatment can be a one-sided competition: The power of addiction often wins.

Those who lack insurance or cannot pay out of pocket often find themselves on a long waiting list that prioritizes the most severe drug addiction cases. If the person isn’t pregnant or injecting drugs, he or she will not receive state-funded treatment or will be forced to wait, sometimes weeks, until a spot opens up.

Jamie Gerrard and Michael Ling prepare blood samples for testing at Oklahoma Blood Institute in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

New federal recommendations could have a ripple effect on blood donation centers across the country. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday all blood donation centers should test for the Zika virus.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute is one of many donation centers changing its testing practices to screen for the pathogen.

Oklahoma has until mid-November to get new testing procedures in place, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

A resident sits outside Hennessey Care Center. The nursing home is one of six in the state that will be transferred into receivership while the landlord finds a new operator.
The Hennessey Clipper

A company that bought six nursing homes across rural Oklahoma this month also acquired more than $500,000 in overdue lease payments from the homes’ operator, and the homes can’t pay their rent.

Trinik Holdings wants to bring in a new tenant, but said in court filings that simply evicting the operator would be harmful to the residents who need specialized care.

Dr. Scott Dellinger talks with a patient at Willowood at Mustang senior living center in Mustang.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Last week the insurance industry group Genworth released an annual report that showed returns for home health care in Oklahoma fell in 2015 compared to previous years. But the costs for all healthcare segments in Oklahoma are going up, and the price of home healthcare rose 2.5 percent over last year.

That’s related to a nationwide trend of rising home care costs as Medicare providers try to keep chronically ill patients out of hospitals, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

Christmas lights still wrap the entrance to Sayre Memorial Hospital, which has been closed for five months. The nearest emergency room is now in Elk City, 14 miles away.
Dale Denwalt / The Journal Record

The hospital in the small town of Sayre closed its doors in February after municipal trust authority members weren't able to renegotiate bond payments.

jfcherry / Flickr.com

Five county health department locations in Oklahoma will close July 1 due to the state’s projected $1.3 billion budget shortfall. Deborah Nichols, chief operating officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told The Oklahoman’s Jaclyn Cosgrove the closings are only a portion of the department’s cuts.

Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma
Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority says it is ending its contracts with two Planned Parenthood organizations that provide health care services to low-income women and families in the state.

OHCA Chief Executive Officer Nico Gomez confirmed in a statement Wednesday the contracts will be terminated effective June 29.

Gomez says the agency in February notified Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma of its intent to terminate the provider agreements.

Mike and Mary Ann Johnson, and her daughter Deanie  Neugebauer, bought this home in Frederick, Oklahoma in the summer of 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Mary Ann Johnson and her husband bought a spacious 1970s-era ranch home in Frederick last summer. The remodeled kitchen is wide and open with a brand-new island juxtaposed by a retro cooking stove.

The couple grew up in Frederick, and they still have lots of friends and family here. It’s quiet and peaceful and they love the slow pace of life after years of living in Oklahoma City. It was an easy decision to buy the house and retire in this small, southwestern Oklahoma town.

But now, Johnson is worried about her daughter, Deanie.

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