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health

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

It’s hard to get basic health care like shots and x-rays in rural Oklahoma. The federal government considers all but one of the state’s 77 counties to have a primary care shortage. The problem is driving a legislative effort to allow highly educated nurses to fill that gap — but doctors and nurse practitioners are butting heads on who is qualified to help.

Lindsi Walker sits behind a glossy wooden desk at Cordell Memorial, a hospital on Oklahoma’s western plains. She’s surrounded by pictures of her family — a stethoscope hangs around her neck.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The victims number in the hundreds across Oklahoma every year, each one a casualty of the state’s epidemic of suicide by firearms.

The youngest last year was a 12-year-old Spiro boy.  The oldest was a 97-year-old Bartlesville man.  Both died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, state data show.

ALEX DODD / FLICKR - CREATIVE COMMONS

Oklahoma had the second highest rate of certain drug overdose deaths between 2015 and 2016, a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Overdose deaths from a class of drugs known as psychostimulants increased in 14 states. Oklahoma and New Mexico shared the second highest rate behind Nevada. These drugs include methamphetamine, ecstasy and drugs like Ritalin used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Oklahoma’s heroin, illicit opioid and cocaine death rates also ticked up slightly.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

New research suggests people with intellectual disabilities are being turned down for organ transplants because of their disability. A growing effort to take human bias out of the decision highlights a little-known area of medicine.

Thomas Kienzle / AP Images

Decimal point errors, switching the numerator and denominator in fractions, or even just plain typos—scientists aren’t immune to these mistakes when publishing their research. Oklahoma scientist Jonathan Wren is trying to fix that.

 


Oklahoma Opioid Deaths Continue To Rise

Mar 7, 2018
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests drug overdose deaths declined in some states — but not in Oklahoma.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A dispute between Oklahoma and federal agencies over relatively high payments for hundreds of doctors who treat Medicaid patients is a key reason state taxpayers are on the hook for $140 million in emergency funds for the state’s two medical schools, records obtained by Oklahoma Watch show.

Every new male inmate in the Oklahoma prison system arrives through this gate at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center in Cleveland County. Blood is drawn from inmates for testing and certain results can lead to further tests for hepatitis C.
Oklahoma Watch

Inmates in Oklahoma prisons must have advanced liver disease before becoming eligible for treatment of hepatitis C, a potentially deadly and growing disease.

The situation in prisons pits the enormous cost of treatment against the public health gains of curing one of the populations most at risk for the viral infection.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma increased 91 percent over the last decade and a half, prompting the state to form a task force charged with a daunting goal: Brainstorm a plan to guide the state out of an opioid epidemic that kills three Oklahomans nearly every day.


Oklahoma Watch

Update from Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars: “The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirms the resignation of CFO Mike Romero. The agency will not have any additional comment at this time.”

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

It’s hard to tell when this year’s flu season will end, but a vaccine remains the best way to prevent the virus, according to a panel of University of Oklahoma medical experts.

“I think the one predictable thing about influenza season is that it will be unpredictable.  Every year is different,” said Dr. Cynthia McCloskey, director of microbiology and virology laboratories at OU Medical Center, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jacob is just a few hours old when registered nurse Amy Burnett begins one of the simplest measurements to tell if a newborn is healthy — their weight.

Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Seven years ago, with Oklahoma stuck near the bottom in key public health rankings, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Gov. Mary Fallin set out to reshape the strategy for markedly improving health outcomes for Oklahomans.

The approach would involve new health department initiatives, partnerships, educational efforts and other programs.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

On June 26, voters will decide if Oklahoma will become the 30th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. But regulating the new industry could prove difficult.

If State Question 788 passes, licenses will be required for each stage of marijuana cultivation, including dispensaries, commercial growers, processors, and individual medical marijuana cards.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that black infants in Oklahoma are twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white or Hispanic babies, making Oklahoma one of the worst states for black infant mortality.

StateImpact Oklahoma: A Look at 2018

Dec 28, 2017
StateImpact reporters preview the key health, education, energy and environment issues they'll be tracking in 2018.
StateImpact Oklahoma

2017 is wrapping up, but the growing group of reporters at StateImpact is following important  policy issues that will carry on into the new year.

Senior Reporter and Managing Editor Joe Wertz brought the StateImpact team into the studio for a preview of their coverage in the year to come. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

Health

Joe Wertz: Give me the big picture for the new year.

Cuts announced at the state health department suggest leaner services for years to come.
Oklahoma Watch

At community health centers across Oklahoma, new patients typically have to wait more than two months for a dentist appointment. Those waits may get even longer.

And throughout swaths of rural Oklahoma, nonprofits that provide child-abuse prevention services for hundreds of families have halted their programs. Others are looking for alternative funding sources to stay afloat.

And The Rest / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

When Moore Public School Superintendent Robert Romines asked some of his high school students what the district could do better, they told him they needed more help with mental health.

“I was a bit shocked,” Romines says.

More and more of Oklahoma’s teenagers are dealing with mental illness, and the increase has caught a few school administrators off guard.

Oklahoma Watch

Documents released Friday by the state Department of Health include a summary of alleged deceptions within the agency that include fraudulent budget reports to state finance officials and omissions in reporting the agency’s financial position to the Legislature and the State Board of Health.

Lori Taylor reads the second letter she received from the state Department of Human Services informing her that her Medicaid waiver program will be funded temporarily.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

After her divorce, Lori Taylor wanted a home all her own. She moved back to Oklahoma to be near her aging parents, but she had a problem. For years her personal caregiver had been her now ex-husband.

“I have cerebral palsy and that’s brain damage that I incurred at birth, and it affects my motor skills. I’m confined to an electric wheelchair. I can stand but I can’t walk, I have very limited use of my arms,” Taylor says, sitting in the living room of her Norman apartment.

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