Health

Health
11:40 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Pittsburgh Under Code Orange Air Quality Alert

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is warning children, the elderly and those with respiratory issues to limit outdoor activities in the Pittsburgh area Thursday.

The DEP issued a code orange air pollution alert for five Pennsylvania regions.

The pollution comes from an overabundance of ground-level ozone, a fundamental element of smog. The ozone forms during hot, sunny days when pollution from cars, factories, homes and power plants mix with nitrogen oxides in the air, causing people to breathe in the volatile organic compounds.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:24 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Research

A recent study with lab mice could reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer's Disease
Credit Rick / Flickr

Millions of Americans suffer from Alzheimer's Disease and the number is expected to increase. Researchers at Pitt have recently confirmed a cancer drug that improves brain function in mice. Could this be a breakthrough in helping humans?

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Health
3:30 am
Tue May 28, 2013

New Drug Explored at Pitt Could Stomp Out Asthma

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh may have found a way to treat asthma in patients that were not responding well to any other form of treatment.

“This is perhaps the most remarkable efficacy study in asthma in the last 20 years,” said the study’s senior author and University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute Director, Sally Wenzel.

The study used the injectable drug dupilumab, which blocks part of the immune system. For 12 weeks, 100 patients were randomized to either take the drug or a placebo.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Could Drug Treatment Before Diabetes Slow the Disease?

A researcher at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh is hoping to slow the progression of Type 2 diabetes by treating children before they get sick. The hospital will serve as one of six sites in a study that looks to be more proactive in the treatment of the illness.

“Give them medications to see if we can rest the pancreas and preserve the beta cell function and prevent the progression to full-blown or severe diabetes,” said principal investigator and University of Pittsburgh Pediatric Endocrinologist Silva Arslanian. 

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Hiking Week
3:30 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Hikers Trek the Trails for Hiking Week

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants you to slip on your hiking boots and trek the trails of Pennsylvania.

The department hopes Hiking Week 2013 will showcase Pennsylvania’s many trails and walkways.

Through June 2, DCNR and the Keystone Trails Association will offer outdoors adventurers more than 70 organized hikes, and they hope to make that number grow to 100 organized hikes by the end of the week.

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Health
3:30 am
Sun May 26, 2013

Hospitals and Health Care Providers Switch to Electronic Records

Doctors, hospitals and patients are now more connected than ever as the majority of health care providers in the United States are making the switch to electronic health records.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that it already exceeded its goal for 50 percent of doctor’s offices and 80 percent of eligible hospitals to use EHRs by the end of 2013.

According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 17 percent of physicians and 9 percent of hospitals were using EHRs in 2008.

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Legionnaire's Disease
2:46 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Legionnaire's Bacteria Found at Pittsburgh-Area VA Clinic

A Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs clinic in a suburban mall has been closed so crews can superheat its tap water to kill bacteria that cause Legionnaire's disease.

Officials don't believe anyone has become ill from water at the clinic in the Washington Crown Center mall in North Franklin Township, about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in Washington County.

That's according to Brandon Blatt, a vice president of Sterling Medical Corp. of Cincinnati, which leases and runs the clinic under a contract with the VA.

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Health Finances
6:22 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Hospital Income Slips in PA, But Most Are in the Black

The average hospital in Pennsylvania made money in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, but not as much as they did the year before and not enough to make the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) confident about the future.

The PHC4 released its annual study Wednesday, which found the 171 General Acute Care hospitals in the state realized on average a 5.82 percent operating margin in 2011-2012. That was down from 7.04 percent the year before but above the industry benchmark of 4 percent for a healthy hospital.

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Veterans Affairs
2:19 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

VA Research Week Highlights Local Robotic Technology

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is celebrating “VA Research Week,” highlighting the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Bakery Square, where robotic technology is being used to improve the mobility and function of people with disabilities.  

The KitchenBot can be programmed to make an entire meal; the Cueing Kitchen is a cabinet layout with appliances that gives audio prompts to those with cognitive disabilities so they can function in the kitchen.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon May 13, 2013

PA Lt. Gov. Calls on Pennsylvanians to Become Organ Donors

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is hoping that a two-year concentrated effort on organ donation education will help to swell the rolls of organ and tissue donors in the state. The focus of the campaign is that it takes just 30 seconds to register to become an organ donor. 

“In the time it takes you to tie your shoes, you can change your life,” said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.  “You can become a hero and become an organ donor. It takes a half minute ... so do it.”

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Health
3:30 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Bill Calls for Insurance Reimbursements for Diabetes Pain Treatment

State Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington) is introducing legislation that would mandate insurance companies reimburse people with diabetes for pain management. 

Smith noted that while patients are reimbursed for other diabetes-related costs, treatment for neuropathy is not one of them.

"Patients who have it experience intense aching, tingling, burning and numbness," he said. "What's really problematic about it is if it's left unmanaged, the condition can worsen to the point where the individual will need hospitalization or further treatment by way of an operation."

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Air Quality
4:29 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Summit Assesses Overall Health Effects of Pittsburgh Air Quality

Air quality in Pittsburgh is getting cleaner, but it continues to negatively affect the health and well-being of city residents.

The Breathe Project and Allegheny General Hospital convened a summit Tuesday — World Asthma Day — to examine the overall effects of poor air quality, from increased instances of asthmatic attacks, higher mortality rates and cancer.

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Emergency Medicine
12:53 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Can Plasma on MedEvac Helicopters Save Lives?

It is well known that uncontrolled bleeding can cause multiple organ failure and death.  It is also known that plasma reduces bleeding, so some are wondering if administering it early--while a patient is being transported to a hospital would lower mortality. 

That thought has prompted The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC to organize a four-year multi-center study of whether administering plasma to trauma victims on emergency helicopters will improve outcomes and save lives.

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Malaria
3:30 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Teams Up To Quash Malaria

The World Health Organization reports that more than 600,000 people die of malaria every year around the world.

In order to help combat that, a local supercomputing center is partnering with the University of Notre Dame and James Cook University in Australia.

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Health
9:49 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Southwest PA Kennel a 'Blessing' for Those in Crisis

Jamie Cochran, Vocational Supervisor at Caritas House, pictured with one of the cats at the facility.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In rural Lawrence County, part way between Slippery Rock and New Castle, there's a repurposed farm building sitting on 42 acres of land.

Eleven people call it home, and on site there are mental health workers, a director and other staff.

There's also close to a dozen dogs and cats.

That's because the facility, known as the Caritas House, is not just an enhanced personal care home for those with serious mental illness. It's also a crisis center for pets.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:18 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System to Become Allegheny Health Network

A partnership between Highmark and other major health systems has been approved
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Highmark Inc. has finalized its partnership with a long list of healthcare providers including the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Now that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department has approved the deal, what happens on Dec. 31, 2014 when the UPMC-Highmark contract expires? Diane Denis, Katz Alumni Chair in Finance and Pitt Professor of Business Administration, dissects the deal.

Health
4:35 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Highmark Deal with WPAHS Creates Allegheny Health Network

More than two years in the making, Highmark Inc. has finalized a partnership with a long list of healthcare providers, including the West Penn Allegheny Health System.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Just moments after the Pennsylvania Insurance Department gave its approval to the deal, Highmark Inc. finalized its partnership with a long list of healthcare providers, including the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and a group of West Penn physicians that will be known as the Allegheny Clinic.

The deal was more than two years in the making, and Highmark Board Chairman Bob Baum said it shows all of those involved have the will and the determination to build the new integrated delivery system, dubbed the Allegheny Health Network.

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Health
1:34 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

New Fitness Center Opens at Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services

Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh has opened the Michael A. Romano Fitness Center in its facility at 1800 West St. in Homestead.   

In the new and larger space are instructors to help people use the new equipment. It meets a need identified by BVRS president Erika Arbogast when she started working there eight years ago.  

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Health
10:54 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Highmark, West Penn Get State Approval on Merger

The deal to merge Highmark and the West Penn Allegheny Health System has cleared another hurdle, but with a few warnings.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has given approval to the transactional filing that would bring together the nonprofit organizations and create an "integrated delivery network."

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Health
1:57 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Commonwealth Court Denies Injunction to Stop State Health Centers from Closing

The Commonwealth Court has denied an injunction to not close state health centers, according to the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, which represents public health nurses.

The Corbett administration is planning on closing or consolidating 26 state health centers. The Department of Health has said that closing centers would allow services to be streamlined and for staff to work in a more mobile capacity. State health centers provide services such as vaccinations and STD testing.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Limiting Reproductive Healthcare in Pennsylvania

A bill passed this week in the State capitol will add to increased inspections and restrictions on health care providers who offer abortion services
Credit 90.5 WESA

Under a  Pennsylvania House passed bill, women who want an abortion have to buy coverage separate from the affordable care act. This is one of the latest challenges for organizations like Planned Parenthood in providing access to reproductive health care. Joining us to talk about these challenges is Kim Evert, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Empowering Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa

 This topic is of a mature nature and may not be suitable for all listeners

It's a sad and troubling fact that women young and old are being raped in Africa by men who believe it will cure them of AIDS. Rape, along with a lack of hygiene products, is causing many women to miss school on a regular basis. We'll talk with Linda Ambroso and Kathy Surma, two Pittsburgh women who, through their volunteer work with the Girl Child Network, are helping the young women in this region live safer and healthier lives.

Tapestries of Hope is a film that documents the experiences of some of the young women they've worked with in Zimbabwe.

To make a local donation to GCN, contact Kathy Surma ksurma2008@gmail.com

Pollution
2:49 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Pittsburgh Air Is Getting Cleaner, But It's Still Dirty

Pittsburgh’s air has gotten cleaner, but the city still ranks as one of the most polluted in the country.

That's according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report released Wednesday. According to the report, Pittsburgh ranks eighth in year-round particle pollution, the mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air. These particles can increase the risk of heart and lung disease and adverse birth outcomes.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:50 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Living with Autism and Revising the DSM

Dorene Ciletti and her autistic high school aged daughter Sabrina Filipek.
Credit Alexis Eperjesi / 90.5 WESA

April is Autism Awareness Month and if you or your child has autism you've likely heard of the DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association. DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and the main purpose of the manual is to provide standard guidelines for clinicians to use when diagnosing psychological disorders and conditions. The manual outlines criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, as well as labeling and coding sometimes used by insurance companies to identify the diagnosis. The DSM is periodically revised and this spring new revisions to the manual will be published.  

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VA Legionnaires' Outbreak
12:26 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Investigation Reveals Failures of Pittsburgh VA Hospital in Legionnaires' Outbreak

Southwestern Pennsylvania officials are expressing outrage after learning the details of a Veterans Affairs investigation into the deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the VA’s Pittsburgh facilities.

According to VA Office of Inspector General, the VA Pittsburgh Health System failed to follow its own rules during an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that left five veterans dead from early 2011 to late 2012.

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