Health

Health news from 90.5 WESA.

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"The  majority of what makes the disease difficult is the emotional toll. It’s a 24hr job," says Suzanne Weessies.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can take an emotional, physical and financial toll on caregivers. We’ll address the services available and particular concerns of caregivers with Karen Schaeffer, founder of Age and Dignity, which provides education and guidance for families. Also taking part in the conversation is Suzanne Weessies Family Services Coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater PA Chapter.

For caregivers or for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's who need support or information, contact the 24/7 Alzheimer's Association hotline. 1.800.272.3900

The cost of hiring an interpreter or sign language specialist to communicate with hospital patients can reach up to $70 per hour, but suburban Pittsburgh hospital might have found a cheaper and more effective alternative.

Forbes Hospital in Monroeville recently starting utilizing iPad-based software called “Language You See,” which provides interpretational and sign language services at the touch of a button.

There are four automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in the Pittsburgh City-County Building, and more than 70 on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, but how many are in Allegheny County? That’s what the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine wants to know.

The school is hosting the region’s first HeartMap Challenge, a public scavenger hunt to locate all of the county’s AEDs, which are small briefcase-sized electronic devices that can be used to help someone in cardiac arrest.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (and Lungs Too!)

Oct 7, 2014
Brett Ciccotelli / Flickr

They are invisible to the naked eye, but atmospheric particles are a critical factor in the climate equation and are responsible for many of the leading causes of death. We’ll talk about the dangers surrounding particulate pollution with Dr. Neil Donahue, professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget / Flickr

Former Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden is the latest celebrity to go public with her diagnosis of breast cancer. 

This comes at the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. In this week’s business segment contributor Rebecca Harris turns her attention to the business of pink.

Harris explains that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was organized to increase awareness of the disease and and raise funds for research.

The Pink Ribbon was introduced by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and then it became adopted by many other organizations and companies. Harris also talks about a term called, “pink washing” and what that means in the business of breast cancer today.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $11.8 million over five years to the University of Pittsburgh to study the hereditary roots of cleft lips and palates.

Orofacial clefts are small gaps in the lip or palate that form in a baby’s mouth when the child doesn’t develop properly in the womb. These occur in one of every 700 births around the world, according to Mary Marazita, a Pitt professor and director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics.

A new piece of legislation aims to take a bite out of the burden placed on the “sandwich generation” – a group of adults usually in their 40s or 50s who are wedged between caring for their parents as well as their own children.

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to fire the Director of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System. 

A statement from the VA says the department proposed the removal of the director  “following an investigation by the Office of Accountability Review (OAR) in which allegations of conduct unbecoming a Senior Executive were substantiated.”

Terry Gerigk Wolf had been placed on paid administrative leave June 13 pending a review of the Legionella outbreak at which caused the deaths of at least six veterans sickened more than 20 others at the Pittsburgh VA Hospital.

The federal government has awarded nearly $3.4 million to be doled out over the next four years to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to establish one of 10 public health training centers across the nation with the hopes of improving national health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected Pitt to create the Region 3 Center, which will provide free training sessions to public health professionals in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Talking to your baby could be one of the best things a parent can do developmentally, and to help get that idea across Allegheny County the Department of Human Services has launched what it is calling the “Use Your Words” campaign.

The campaign encourages parents to talk to their infant about things that they are doing. For instance “I am cutting up orange carrots” in an expressive manner is the best way to help children develop.

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health may shed light on some of the risk factors heart disease – namely that race and ethnicity may place a role in a man’s likelihood of accumulating fat around the heart.

“This is important because fat around the heart has been shown to be a risk factor of cardiovascular disease,” said Samar El Khoudary, an assistant professor of epidemiology and the study's lead author.

UPMC Voice Center Takes Steps to Conserve A Variety of Voices

Sep 26, 2014
Dara Bailey

The UPMC Voice Center is a unique place in Pittsburgh for more than just vocalists. They often work with those who, knowingly or not, use their voice on a regular basis and are susceptible to injury; teachers, clergy, even people in customer service.

The center's mission is to prevent injury and rehabilitate patients through therapy and cutting edge research. Dr. Jackie Gartner-Schmidt, Director of Speech Language Pathology, and patient Karl Bailey of the Homestead Waterfront Dueling Piano Bar, Sing Sing join us to talk about what it takes to conserve one's voice into old age.

With the hope of being able to help epilepsy patients who have not responded to other treatments, Allegheny General Hospital Friday opened a unit designed to monitor and evaluate those who suffer from the condition.

The division includes four private rooms, each equipped with a video camera and an EEG (electroencephalography) device, which, combined, allows physicians to record patient behavior and their neurological activity.

UPMC Wants Your Unused Medications

Sep 25, 2014

As part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, UPMC is hosting multiple drop-off zones Sept. 26 where people can safely dispose of their unused medications.

There are 11 locations participating across the city, including Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside, UPMC Mercy South Side and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  

Highmark Unveils Healthcare Center in Wexford

Sep 23, 2014
Julian Routh / 90.5 WESA

Rather than having to go from doctor to doctor for health care, Highmark patients will soon be able to get the care they need all under one roof.

Officials from Highmark Health and the Allegheny Health Network unveiled the new Health + Wellness Pavilion in Wexford Tuesday afternoon, less than two weeks before its opening to the public.

The 175,000 square foot facility, deemed a "medical mall," will house an array of retail, diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic healthcare services.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students at Duquesne Elementary School in the Mon Valley spent Tuesday running, jumping and playing, all in the name of health.

“It was really exciting to be going through the school, going through the play area, the gym, seeing the Move-a-thon, seeing the kids doing yoga, and relay races and the dancing and the nutrition, having meals with fruits and vegetables,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who joined the kids for a couple of yoga poses during Tuesday’s event.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has developed a 91 percent accurate genetic test to identify those patients whose prostate cancer is likely to recur. The new knowledge may lead to a clinical test, as well as future drugs and therapies.

“I think we are not as unhealthy as we could be, but I think there’s lots of room for improvement,” says Dr. Karen Hacker, Allegheny County Health Department Director. 

On Monday the department begins a series of 13 public meetings over the next seven weeks to discuss health concerns throughout the county.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a refrain that U.S Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) has been repeating as he fights to get black lung benefits into the hands of coal miners in a more timely manner.

After working for several months to break up the backlog in black lung benefits claims, Casey announced plans Thursday to introduce legislation aiming to reduce fraud in miners’ cases.

According to Casey, the case backlog is in the thousands now and grows by substantial numbers each year.

With an eye on examining both the negative influences and positive capabilities of today’s media and technology on health, the University of Pittsburgh has created the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health (CRMTH).  

Director Dr. Brian Primack said although every generation tends to think its innovations will have dire negative effects, there are reasons to think today’s larger-than-life media portrayals do  have a significant impact on sleep and cognition.

New helmets, devices and regulations are coming out increasingly as people learn more about the severity of concussions, and as part of the trend UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh have been working together to study the effectiveness of a new concussion screening tool. 

West Penn Hospital Offers Free Lung Cancer Screening

Sep 15, 2014

With the hopes of catching lung cancer in its earlier, more curable stages, West Penn Hospital, is offering a free screening program for those at risk.

“If you find a patient and there at stage one they’re potentially curative the five year survivor rates are significantly higher, and it’s at almost 90 percent, so it places a huge impact on healthcare cost if you’re diagnosing patients at stage one versus stage four,”  said Dr. Lana Schumacher, Allegheny Health Network Esophageal and Thoracic Institute Co-Director.

As the cooler weather moves in so do the heavier jackets and sniffles, and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)  is gearing up for the coming flu season by offering vaccinations.

Starting Monday (9/15) the ACHD’s vaccine clinic in Oakland will provide flu shots for $25.

“The single best way to protect against the flu is to vaccinate people, and it’s recommended for everyone six months of age and older,” said Sharon Silvestri, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Allegheny Health Department.

A Closer Look at the Physical Therapy Industry

Sep 9, 2014

Whether it’s an athlete, injured soldier or senior citizen people needing physical therapy cover a broad spectrum. In addition, as the population ages the need for people trained health professions, such as physical therapy increases. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of physical therapy

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

State and local elected officials joined UPMC officials for a ribbon cutting Tuesday on the new Children’s Hospital of UPMC of Pittsburgh South Hills location.

The outpatient facility in South Fayette Township is replacing the current Children’s South in Bethel Park. The new location, with easy access off I-79, is expected to expand access to care.

Shattered Image: A Story of Struggle and Recovery

Sep 8, 2014
Brian Cuban

Bulimia is often thought of as a woman’s disorder. However, men can suffer from it as well. In his memoir Shattered Image, our guest Brian Cuban chronicles his battles with Body Dysmorphic Disorder as well as his addictions to alcohol, cocaine and steroids. He joins us in Studio A to discuss his struggles and recovery.

With nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths and more than 3,700 cases in West Africa in the last eight months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Ebola virus spreads rapidly from one human host to another.

But Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at UPMC specializing in emerging pathogens, said that is not the case.

“Right now Ebola is not a human pathogen,” said Adalja. “Humans are dead-end hosts. It can’t really spread very well between humans, other than through exposure to their blood or bodily fluids.”

Flickr user Mike Licht

The Allegheny County Health Department wants you to help set its priorities as it attempts to become the healthiest county in the nation.

That’s according to department director Dr. Karen Hacker, who said the county is now moving into the second phase of its community health assessment process. The first phase was an online comment period, which Hacker said garnered more than 1,000 responses.

Coalition Assembled to Prevent Misuse of ADHD Meds

Sep 3, 2014

Classes are in session at college campuses across the country and that means late-night study sessions in the library, no sleep and in some cases, the abuse of ADHD medications.

But the misuse of such medications is not only dangerous, it is also illegal.

The newly-formed Pennsylvania-based Coalition to Prevent ADHD Medication Misuse (CPAMM) is trying to spread the word on campuses across the nation.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department Tuesday announced it has received and publicly posted the final transition plan for consumers affected by the separation of Highmark and UPMC at the end of 2014.

“We’re excited, because now we can bring clarity to the transition plan, we can help members make choices they need to make, and we think it’s an important part of the roadmap for us as we move forward,” said Deborah Rice Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan.

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