Health

Where We Live
8:19 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Dementia On the Rise: It's Time to Deal With It

Linda Durst is the Medical Director/Vice Chief, Department of Psychiatry The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital
Chion Wolf WNPR

The Alzheimer’s Association says about five million people in the United States have some form of dementia. They expect that number to increase dramatically as baby boomers age and more people live longer. By 2050, we can expect that number to rise to about a million new diagnoses every year.

Unless things change, many of us will end up in nursing homes.

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Health
8:56 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Connecticut Agency to Hand Out Free Water Testing Kits

Peg Creative Commons

Connecticut's Department of Public Health is providing free private well testing for a limited number of homeowners.

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Hospital Deal
1:25 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Connecticut, Tenet Agree to Renew Talks for Hospital Deal

Credit vichie81/iStock / Thinkstock

Tenet Healthcare said it is open to resuming talks with the state of Connecticut over its failed deal to buy five hospitals. The company pulls no punches in its response to Governor Dannel Malloy’s invitation.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu January 22, 2015

After Connecticut Teen Undergoes Chemotherapy, Questions on Informed Consent for Minors

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a 17-year-old cancer patient must continue chemotherapy treatment.
Linus Ekenstam Creative Commons

The story of Cassandra C, 17, dominated national headlines after she refused treatment for a curable cancer. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with a lower court decision that the Department of Children and Families can retain temporary custody of the girl, and force her to undergo chemotherapy. We hear from Cassandra's attorney about next steps for her.

We also talk with medical experts about informed consent. Should Cassandra and other minor patients like her be forced to undergo treatment?

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Medical Decisions
7:30 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Cassandra C Could Leave Hospital While Waiting for Next Chemo Treatment

Cassandra C, 17, was ordered to continue her chemotherapy treatment despite her objections.
Jackie Fortin

Cassandra C, 17, is being forced by the state to undergo chemotherapy treatment for her Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Under a court order, DCF has had temporary custody of Cassandra since mid-December.

DCF now says it is exploring other options for her while she continues treatment. Cassandra's next chemotherapy treatment won't happen for several weeks, so she may be allowed to leave the hospital and live in a group home. While there, she would continue to receive other treatments DCF says she needs.

Cassandra's attorney, Joshua Michtom, said on WNPR's Where We Live that Cassandra is in her hospital room with someone at guard at all times. For her, he said, being anywhere other than her one room in the hospital would be preferable.

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Health Care
3:34 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Senator 'Astounded' That Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Poorest Patients

Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo., is changing its name to Mosaic Life Care. It was the focus of an NPR and ProPublica investigation into its billing practices.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:11 pm

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

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Homelessness
4:18 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Connecticut Looks to End Homelessness Among Vets and Disabled

Connecticut reporters gather post-press conference for further questions with Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Aundreá Murray

State officials gathered at the capital city on Wednesday to announce a new initiative aimed at ending homelessness among veterans and the disabled within the next two years.

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Health Insurance
2:59 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Tax Preparers Get Ready To Be Bearers Of Bad News About Health Law

Lou Graham prepares taxes in Connecticut and is ready to answer client questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:17 pm

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

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Cities
1:13 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

The City Might Not Be To Blame For High Asthma Rates

Dr. Stephen Teach helps Jeffery Ulmer listen to his daughter Alauna's asthmatic breathing at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Alauna's mother, Farisa, holds her. The District has one of the highest rates of pediatric asthma in the country.
Jahi Chikwendiu Washington Post

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:15 pm

Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.

Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.

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The Faith Middleton Show
1:10 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

'Facts' About Weight Loss That Are Wrong

Credit Mason Masteka/flickr creative commons

With the food-centric holiday season behind us, many of us would like to trim down a bit. Articles and studies about weight control are everywhere. But our returning metabolic specialist, Dr. Reza Yavari, says that most of the top ten weight loss tips are incorrect. You've heard a calorie is a calorie is a calorie? Not so much, according to Yavari.

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Disease
9:47 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Diabetes Takes Disproportionate Toll on Hispanics and Blacks in Connecticut

Diabetes continues to be a disease prevalent within minority, immigrant, and, urban communities.
Oscar Annermarken Creative Commons

Connecticut’s diabetes rate ranks lower than the national average, but Hispanics and African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have the disease compared with their white neighbors, and are at greater risk of dying from diabetes-related causes.

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Rejection Therapy
3:23 am
Fri January 16, 2015

By Making A Game Out Of Rejection, A Man Conquers Fear

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 7:56 am

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

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Access Health CT
2:33 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

As Registration Deadline Looms, New Affordable Care Act Applications Continue

Credit Kaiser Health News

Open enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act ends in one month, but how many people have signed up so far? 

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Food Science
7:15 am
Thu January 15, 2015

We Lie About What We Eat, And It's Messing Up Science

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 4:15 pm

How many peanuts did you snack on last week? If you don't remember, you're not alone. We humans are notoriously bad at remembering exactly what and how much we ate. And if there's one pattern to our errors, it's that we underestimate — unintentionally and otherwise.

And yet, for decades, researchers who want to amass large quantities of data about how much Americans eat and exercise have had to rely on individuals to self-report this information.

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Ebola
9:00 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Massachusetts Doctor Who Survived Ebola Returning To Africa

Dr. Rick Sacra and his wife Debbie discuss his plans to return to Liberia where he was infected with Ebola last August. Sacra was cured and is now immune to the disease

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 6:13 pm

The Massachusetts doctor who was cured of the deadly Ebola virus is going to return later this week to West Africa to work in the missionary hospital where he was infected.             

 Four months after he was declared Ebola-free, and with his strength and stamina now back, Dr. Rick Sacra will leave Thursday for Liberia, where he had spent much of the last two decades working for a missionary organization.

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Cancer Treatment
4:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Chemotherapy Refusal Is at Center of Connecticut Case -- But What Is Chemo?

-aniaostudio-/iStock Thinkstock

The story of a Connecticut girl fighting for the right to choose how to treat her cancer has filled the headlines. Cassandra C's case centers on her refusal of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is one of the more common treatments for cancer.

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Medical Ethics
9:46 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Are Teenagers Capable Of Making Life-Or-Death Decisions?

Cassandra, age 17, is in a Hartford, Conn., hospital where the state is compelling her to undergo cancer treatment.
Cassandra AP

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:53 am

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

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Medical Decisions
7:56 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Can Connecticut Force A Teenage Girl To Undergo Chemotherapy?

Jackie Fortin's daughter, Cassandra, last summer.
Courtesy of Jackie Fortin

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 5:58 pm

Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

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Massachusetts
2:21 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Head Of MA Health Connector Stepping Down

Jean Yang speaking at BMC's Cancer Center in Pittsfield, Mass. in Oct. 2014. Yang is stepping down as executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector Jan. 16.

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:26 pm

The head of the Massachusetts health connector is stepping down after a tumultuous year in which the state's health care exchange failed and was later rebuilt.

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Flu Fighters
10:58 am
Wed January 7, 2015

As Flu Season Ramps Up, Focus Falls on New Vaccine Made in Meriden

A retouched photograph of the H1N1 virus.
Wikimedia Commons

This year's flu shot might not work as well as in previous years, so focus is now on a new vaccine created in Connecticut.

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The Faith Middleton Show
11:25 am
Tue January 6, 2015

How To Avoid Foot Surgery

Credit Josh/flickr creative commons

The congenial New York foot specialist Dr. Rock Positano is known nationally for helping patients avoid foot and ankle surgery. Which explains why he was featured on the front page of The New York Times expressing dismay at those women who choose cosmetic foot surgery to force their feet into high-end designer shoes. It happens regularly, says Positano, and then the same women seek his help to repair the damage done. "Sadly, I can't do a thing for them," he says. "It's too late."

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Hospital Errors
9:07 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Connecticut Hospital Reports Of Surgical, Medication Errors Climb

c-hit.org

Connecticut hospitals reported record numbers of patients killed or seriously injured by hospital errors in 2013, with large increases in the numbers of falls, medication mistakes and perforations during surgical procedures, a new state report shows.

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Access to Water
3:57 am
Tue January 6, 2015

For Many Navajo, A Visit From The 'Water Lady' Is A Refreshing Sight

Darlene Arviso is known as the water lady in Smith Lake, N.M., on the Navajo Nation. She delivers water to 250 people each month. Here, she fills buckets from her water truck.
Laurel Morales KJZZ

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:37 am

The people who live in the northwest corner of New Mexico consider Darlene Arviso to be a living saint.

"Everybody knows me around here. They'll be waving at me," she says from behind the wheel of the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission water truck. "They call me the water lady."

That's because Arviso hauls water for tribe members of the Navajo Nation, where, on average, residents use 7 gallons a day to drink, cook, bathe and clean. The average person in the U.S. uses about 100 gallons a day.

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Grossology
7:04 am
Wed December 31, 2014

The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body at the CT Science Center

Nigel Nose-It-All
Jonathan McNicol/WNPR

At Grossology, a new exhibit at the Connecticut Science Center, one of the first things you see is a nine- or ten-foot-tall model of a human nose with six- or seven-foot-tall nostrils. As you enter, you're surrounded by things like the olfactory epithelium and the conchae, and you learn things like how the Eustachian tubes regulate the pressure around your ear drums and so then a stuffy nose makes your ears feel clogged.

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The Faith Middleton Show
2:06 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

The New Science of Building Brain Power

Credit aJ Gazmen/flickr creative commons

For over a century, IQ scores have been viewed by scientists as placing an upper limit on what a person can ever achieve: a cognitive glass ceiling, a number tattooed on the soul.

Shattering decades of that kind of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training. But is it all just hype?

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Affordable Care Act
11:58 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Hospitals Win In States That Chose To Expand Medicaid

When the Affordable Care Act passed, many people focused on the law's creation of marketplaces to help the uninsured buy coverage, often with the help of federal subsidies.

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Birth Control
11:36 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Ethiopians Seeking Birth Control: Caught Between Church And State

Participants sing during a wedding ceremony at Bole Medhane Alem (Savior of the World) Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It's Africa's largest Orthodox church, and its message on contraceptive devices is clear: not permitted.
Allison Shelley for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 2:16 pm

Her head draped with thin white fabric in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, Konjit walked to the stately entrance to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. But the soft-spoken 26-year-old did not go inside to pray because of her "sin." Days before, she had had an abortion; she had become pregnant after her birth control failed.

Like many women in Ethiopia, Konjit felt caught between two powerful forces when making decisions about reproductive health: the church and the state [note: we are using only her first name to protect her privacy].

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The Faith Middleton Show
10:14 am
Mon December 29, 2014

There Is No Such Thing as Silence

Credit Alberto Ortiz/flickr creative commons

That's what we learned from neuroscientist Dr. Seth Horowitz of Brown University; true silence is non-existent. "In truly quiet areas," he writes in his book, The Universal Sense, "you can even hear the sound of air molecules vibrating inside your ear canals or the fluid in your ears themselves."

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Breastfeeding
9:30 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Breastfeeding Rates on the Rise, as Mother-Baby Support Systems Expand in Connecticut

Amy Devoe breastfeeds Zoe, five months.
Kathleen Schassler

Candid online posts describing the challenges of breastfeeding fill the Facebook page of Breastfeeding USA’s Connecticut chapter. The daily stream of anecdotes, questions and comments alternate in tone from exasperated to celebratory.

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Affordable Care Act
3:34 am
Mon December 29, 2014

A Split View On Obamacare's Past And Future

Kevin Counihan (left) runs HealthCare.gov, and Michael Cannon, of the Cato Institute, is a prominent critic of Obamacare.
Courtesy of Chion Wolf/WNPR ; Courtesy of the Cato Institute

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

Kevin Counihan and Michael Cannon look at the Affordable Care Act and see very different things.

Cannon is part of the brain trust behind a Supreme Court case that could result in the repeal of a part of the exchanges he says is illegal.

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