Health

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

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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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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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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Essential Pittsburgh
9:30 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

National Healthcare Decision Day

Planning for your end of life care does not have to be daunting
Credit Paul Moody / Flickr

  The only sure things in life are death and taxes. Now that tax day has passed its time to consider advance care planning and health care decisions. We'll begin the dialogue with Nancy Zionts, chief operating officer and chief program officer for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. Have you mapped out your end of life plans? How do you talk about it with your loved ones?

Visit Closure.org for information about Living Wills

Health
9:54 am
Mon April 15, 2013

1 Sickened by Legionnaire's at Pittsburgh Building

The Allegheny County Health Department says one person has been treated for Legionnaire's disease-related pneumonia at a Pittsburgh senior-citizens apartment building.

Officials at York Commons say crews have flushed water lines, shower head and faucets with hot water meant to kill the bacteria that health department officials have determined sickened an unidentified female resident last month.

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Health Insurance
8:44 am
Sun April 14, 2013

New Highmark Insurance Plan Channels Patients to Specific Hospitals

A new insurance plan from Highmark allows employers to nudge their employees toward particular hospitals when they need risky surgeries.

Employers using the "Blue Distinction" program can give incentives, such as waived deductibles and co-pays, to employees who choose hospitals that have proven track records for certain surgeries.

The company can also choose to increase co-pays or even “carve out” coverage for any other hospital when the specialty surgery is needed, according to Highmark Vice President of Regional Sales Eric Hays.

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Health
4:05 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Cancer Plan For Pennsylvania Built During Pittsburgh Meeting

State administrators, health care providers and researchers gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday to work on building a comprehensive plan to do battle with cancer in Pennsylvania. 

The five-year plan is required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Nancy Davidson said the plan is being built with the center’s input. 

Davidson said the group is using the standards put forward by the CDC to set the tone, but she stressed that it is Pennsylvania’s plan, not the CDC’s plan.

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Health Insurance
3:30 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Got Insurance Questions? New Website Tries to Provide Answers

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has unveiled a new website aimed at helping Pennsylvanians with questions about their health insurance.

Department spokeswoman Rosanne Placey said the site was born out of questions being asked by callers.

“We were getting considerable calls on health insurance,” Placey said. “And so what we did is we recapped every question that we got from consumers and basically answered via this website.”

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Physical Therapy
3:37 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Electrical Stimulation Could Zap the Need for Some Physical Therapy

A study completed at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville could lead to physical therapy sessions being replaced with a device you would use in your home.

The study was done to see if electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, is as effective as standard physical therapy in helping patients recover from joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Michael Levine, the principal investigator, said he wanted to have an alternative treatment for patients.

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Veterans Affairs
6:45 am
Thu April 4, 2013

At a House Inside the VA, Injured Vets Prepare to Return Home

Ron Dambrosia, 68, of East McKeesport, was in the Army for 11 years. Dambrosia developed a subdural hematoma, or a brain lesion, a few months ago and underwent surgery twice. While at MyHome, he worked with therapists to practice daily living tasks like making coffee.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

There is a house inside a building at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affair’s Aspinwall campus.

The house has everything one would expect – a doorbell, cable, flatware, a bedroom. There’s even a garage (but with half of a car).

The 1,100 square foot house, called MyHome, is a part of the VA’s Community Living Center, and it's designed to help patients recovering from physical or mental injuries transition safely back to their homes.

But that transition takes practice, according to VA Pittsburgh Rehab Site Supervisor Jason Fay.

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Medical Technology
5:20 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

UPMC Officer Discusses Disparities Created by New Medical Tech

Some patients prefer a certain type of doctor. Others don’t understand how to find their medical information via the internet.

Advances in medical technology, specifically in how medical information is given to patients, create a new medical disparity, especially for the elderly, according to Candi Castleberry-Singleton, the chief inclusion and diversity officer at UPMC.

Castleberry-Singleton, who spoke at the University of Pittsburgh today, doesn’t see new technology as a problem, but as an opportunity to be proactive. 

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Medicine
3:29 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Pitt Research Finds New Protein, Could Lead to New Drug to Fight Inflammation

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered a new biological pathway, or protein, that ramps up inflammation. They also have identified agents that can block it.

This could be effective in fighting the damaging inflammation that results from conditions such and pneumonia.

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Affordable Care Act
3:30 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Backers of Medicaid Expansion Want Corbett to 'Stop Fooling Around'

Labor and healthcare advocacy groups are using this April Fool's Day to make a point: that Gov. Tom Corbett's decision to forego a federally funded expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania is, well, foolish.

Members of three groups — Working America, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network and the Consumer Health Coalition — plan to deliver 9,000 petitions to Corbett's office urging the administration to lower eligibility requirements for the federal program.

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Heart Disease
3:30 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Take a Walk to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke

Wednesday is National Walking Day, and organizers in Pittsburgh are hoping to get people in the good habit of taking a daily constitutional as warmer spring weather begins in the region.

Sandy McCurdy, board member of the American Heart Association, said walking is the easiest way to reduce one's risk for heart disease and stroke — two diseases that account for a combined 870,000 deaths in the United States each year.

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Sequestration
2:59 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

As Sequester Cuts Kick In, Hospitals to See Less Revenue from Medicare Payments

Starting April 1, Medicare payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care providers will be reduced by 2 percent as sequestration cuts kick in.

These cuts come after a slew of other cuts and subsidy reductions for under- and un-compensated care in preparation for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will implement the cut, reimbursing Medicare claims at 98 cents on the dollar. Medicare already reimburses less than most private health insurance plans.

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Health
6:24 am
Thu March 28, 2013

In Pittsburgh, an Effort to Bring Down the Black Community's Infant Mortality Rate

Dorretta Lemon, a registered nurse, visits at-risk, pregnant first-time mothers every month at their homes. She maintains her relationship with the mother and her infant until the child is 2 years old.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

When Sarah Murphy found out she was pregnant, she was initially shocked.

"I didn’t think I would have kids, and then I ended up having him when I was 39," she said. 

Her advanced age led to a medically complicated pregnancy. Her income wasn’t as high as she thought it should be to cover the associated costs.

And as the child of a black woman living in Allegheny County, Murphy’s baby was three times more likely than a white woman’s child to die before reaching his first birthday.

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