Health

Essential Pittsburgh
8:02 am
Thu June 20, 2013

My Market: An Essay by Bob Batz Jr.

Credit Keana / flickr.com

Pittsburgh has farmers markets in virtually every neighborhood, making it possible to visit a different market every day of the week. But being a city of neighborhoods, is it any wonder that many Pittsburghers prefer their local farmer's market? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette food editor, Bob Batz Jr. loves the atmosphere of his farmer's market in Mt. Lebanon and shares the sounds of opening day in an essay.

Essential Pittsburgh
8:01 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Enon Valley Farm's Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes at Enon Valley Farm
Rhonda Schuldt LocalGoodness.com

Rhonda Schuldt, food writer for LocalGoodness.com has a little known seasonal item from her local market. Garlic scapes. Find out about the family behind Enon Valley Farm's garlic scapes. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:02 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Legionnaire's Disease in the VA Hospital system

Credit John C. Schisler / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In a series of articles in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reporter Adam Smeltz has investigated on the prevalence of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaire's disease, in Pittsburgh's VA hospital in Oakland.  His findings indicate that there may have been reason to fear an outbreak in the hospital prior to the one that occurred in 2011.

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Health
7:26 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Study Finds Similar Abnormalities in the Brains of Concussion, Alzheimer's Patients

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh has found similar brain abnormalities in concussion and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Saaed Fakran, an assistant professor of neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study, said it's too early to make any conclusions based on this research, but he hopes to follow up on it.

The study looked at concussion patients ranging in age from 12 to 28 who have had some sort of trauma, persistent abnormality but have a conventional CT and MRI.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:33 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Allegheny General Hospital researcher find genetic markers predict response to treatment.
Credit Tips Times / Flickr

 

A New York Times op-ed by Angelina Jolie disclosed her decision to have a double mastectomy after learning she carries a mutation of a gene that increases her risk of breast cancer.

Last week, researchers at Allegheny General Hospital, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic published important findings regarding breast cancer.

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UPMC
3:15 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

City Councilman Lavelle Calls UPMC's Use of 14th Amendment in Lawsuit 'Offensive'

A few dozen union members, civil rights activists, elected officials and others gathered at Freedom Corner in the Hill District  Wednesday morning to protest UPMC’s use of the 14th Amendment in its lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh.

The lawsuit says it is unconstitutional for the city to challenge its tax-exempt status because of its due process and equal protection under the law.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle said he felt shocked and bewildered at UPMC’s legal technique.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Allegheny Co. Health Department to Add Pesticide to Water Basins to Combat Mosquitoes

The Allegheny County Health Department will start treating storm water catch basins in Pittsburgh Monday with pesticide to combat mosquito breeding.

The pesticide, which is nontoxic to humans, pets and aquatic life, does not kill mosquitoes directly, but stops their maturation process. The mosquito eggs become stuck in a larvae stage and are eaten by other organisms.

Dr. Ronald Voorhees, acting director of the health department, said treating the water catch basins makes a serious impact on the mosquito population.

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Child Abuse
3:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Calls of Suspected Child Abuse Up Over 2,000 in the Last Year

An annual report from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare showed a record-breaking number of calls of suspected child abuse or neglect, but this might not be all bad news.

Department spokeswoman Anne Bale said officials think the increase in calls might not be because there are more cases of actual abuse happening.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Collaborative Effort Helps Seniors Avoid Nursing Homes, ERs

Joe Finkelpearl, 81, makes a call to a fellow senior as part of the Agewell Pittsburgh program.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

A few days a week, Joe Finkelpearl goes to the Jewish Community Center and makes phone calls.

He calls a few dozen fellow seniors from an office and chats them up, talking about sports and books, but also ensuring their meals are delivered and their furnaces are working in the winter.

An 81-year-old retired widower, he is a volunteer for Agewell Pittsburgh, a one-stop referral system that provides coordinated access to services for seniors who are living independently.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:41 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Prosopagnosia: When The Face Just Isn't Familiar

What if you couldn't regnize the faces of people closest to you?
Credit Bernard Farrell / Flickr

At one time or another you’ll see someone and say, “the face is familiar but I can’t remember the name.” For people with prosopagnosia, known as “face blindness,” the face isn’t familiar. Actor Brad Pitt, in a recent interview with Esquire magazine reported having the condition.  Dr. Marlene Behrmann of Carnegie-Mellon University is one of the leading researchers on this condition

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Breast Cancer
5:58 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Doctors Confirm Effectiveness of Less Invasive Procedure for Early Stage Breast Cancer

Each year more than 200,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer, and now doctors in Pittsburgh have confirmed that a less-invasive surgical procedure for women with early stage breast cancer is as effective as traditional surgery.

According to Dr. Thomas Julian, associate director of the Breast Care Center at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), a 10-year follow up on a clinical trial involving 5,611 women with invasive breast cancer showed no significant difference in overall survival or disease-free survival.

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Nutrition
3:48 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Free Meals Available to Children on Summer Vacation

Many students rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year and still need help over the summer.

In 2012, the Department of Agriculture served 2.3 million children at 38,800 sites on a typical summer day through the Summer Food Service Program. 

Free meals are available at sites all over the country to anyone 18 and under, or 21 and under if disabled, according to Cindy Moore of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. People can go to any location — no registration or documentation is necessary.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon June 3, 2013

West Nile Virus Found in 2 Pennsylvania Counties

The infected blood suckers are back.

The first two West Nile virus-carrying mosquitos of the season were detected last week in Erie and Adams counties, signaling the start of what could be a long summer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are advising people to take steps toward mosquito prevention.

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Health
4:48 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Allegheny County Names Karen Hacker New Health Department Director

After a national search, Allegheny County officials announced Friday that Dr. Karen Hacker has been chosen as the new director of the Allegheny County Department of Health.

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The Sequester & You
7:32 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Community Health Centers Spared Sequester Cuts, But Worries Persist

At the Squirrel Hill Health Center, Medical Director Andrea Fox treats patient Vladzimir Shein while Medical Office Assistant Rita Bidrat translates from Russian to English.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When you walk into the Squirrel Hill Health Center, you hear something you don’t hear very often in Pittsburgh: the sounds of people talking in seemingly every language but English.

The patients at this federally qualified health center, or FQHC, are mostly seniors, immigrants and refugees and speak Spanish, Nepali, Russian, Arabic and a few dozen other languages. It’s a community not easily serviced everywhere. It's also one that's grown to depend on FQHCs.

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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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