Deanna Garcia

Assistant News Director and Chief Assignment Editor

Deanna fell in love with public radio in 2001, when she landed her first job at an NPR station: KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, where she also attended college. After graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communications, she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern at NPR's Morning Edition. Following that, she was a reporter/All Things Considered Host at WXXI in Rochester, NY. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Deanna was the local All Things Considered host for KUNC in northern Colorado. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys watching movies and TV shows on DVD (the Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie are among her favorites), bicycling, yard work, and reading.

 

Ways To Connect

Eric Molina/Flickr

Lawmakers and public health officials say local heroin use shows no signs of slowing.

“I’ve been in health care for over 30 years and it is the worst public health crisis I’ve ever seen,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy. “That is what drives us, that is what gives us our passion, and I can assure you, we will not stop.”

Espensorvik/Flickr

Analysis of peoples’ television watching habits and other life factors over the last 15 years has shown those who watch more television are at a greater risk of injury, particularly among people who are considered to have a “high-hostility” personality, according to a study published online by University of Pittsburgh researchers.

Lead author of the study, Anthony Fabio, assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said this could come down to messaging.

Summer Dreamers Academy

Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy is one of four programs in the U.S. to win the 2015 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award. Given by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the awards aim to highlight best practices in educational summer programs.

“Research suggests that high quality summer learning programs can really make an impact socially, emotionally and academically in the lives of low-income students,” said Dara Murray, manager of program quality with NSLA.

Ginny/Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying, once again, to change the state’s anti-discrimination law.

A pair of bills have been introduced that would update the Human Relations Act, making it illegal for someone to be fired from a job, turned away from a business and evicted from or denied housing because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act currently provides those protections for people on the basis of age, race, gender, disability, among others,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), “but we believe that it is a glaring omission to not include people from the LGBT community.”

Rebecca Pollard / Flickr

Allegheny County teens, on the whole, look fairly healthy in comparison to teens around the nation, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Of the 1,600 teens surveyed, 96 percent said they have health insurance and 62 percent reported getting one hour or more of moderate or vigorous exercise every day. Other areas raised red flags for health officials.

Hillary H / Flickr

As temperatures creep back into the 90s next week, one state lawmaker says he's looking ahead to protect dogs and other pets from being left in vehicles unattended.

The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act would “prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and wellbeing of the animal.” The violation would be a summary offense, which is the most minor criminal offense in the state and generally comes with a fine.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Tuesday the facility dropped its membership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums willingly and won’t lose its famed sea turtle rehabilitation program.

The zoo has participated in the Sea Turtle Second Chance program since 2009, taking in several turtles a year and, ideally, releasing them all back into the wild again, according to Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker. Of the 17 treated in 2015, 13 have been returned, including two newly slated for the North Carolina shore.

Matt York / Associated Press

With the back-to-school season upon us, many are starting to mourn the end of summer, but there are at least a couple months of warm and mild weather ahead – which is perfect motorcycle weather.

“Summer riding season for motorcyclists runs roughly from April to October.” This is when we see the majority of motorcyclists on our roadways,” said Juliann Sheldon, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

UPMC

Each year between 1.7 and 3 million people end up with a sports- and recreation-related concussion in the U.S. That’s according to statistics gathered by the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, which see more than 17,000 patients a year.

This fall, concussion experts from around the country will come to Pittsburgh to discuss the treatment of the mild traumatic brain injury.

“Thirty to 35 of the greatest scientific minds around the country will be meeting as a group to hopefully achieve an understanding and consensus on outlining active approaches to treating this injury,” said Micky Collins, executive and clinical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

90.5 WESA

It’s back-to-school time in the region, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, better known as ALCOSAN, is highlighting its role in the classroom.

The sewage and water treatment facility isn’t something automatically linked with schools, but for more than a decade, the authority has done educational outreach.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Once a futuristic pipe dream, video calls are now so commonplace they not only help family and friends feel more connected, but allow medical professionals reach patients that in the past either would not have been seen or would have had to travel hundreds of miles for treatment.

One of the largest users of telemedicine is the VA Pittsburgh Health System.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Now seven weeks late, state budget negotiations have prompted rallies and protests by community groups, non-profit organizations, service providers and citizens all imploring Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to come to a consensus.

The Grandparents Support Group added their voice to the mix Tuesday at a gathering outside East Hills-based A Second Chance Inc., an agency that serves children being cared for by relatives or family friends.

“We cannot do anything, not unless the budget is passed. Our children are our future – no budget, no future,” said Shirley Pinnock, a grandmother from Wilkinsburg.

Prolonged seizures can happen to anyone, at any age and depending on the severity, can affect the ability to think and remember, function normally and live independently. A clinical trial at 39 medical centers across the U.S. aims to determine what the best emergency room treatment is.

Currently, there is no standardized protocol for emergency treatment of a seizure or recurrent seizure lasting longer than five minutes. There are three commonly used medications given in emergency departments to treat the seizures, but which one is given depends on a number of factors, including physician preference.

For the last several years, a nationwide effort to connect veterans with a multitude of services has been growing; in September Stand Down Pittsburgh is holding its 8th annual event.

“What Stand Down is is the community’s attempt to work with the homeless veteran population, in this case within Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and really try to provide respite services as well as connections to potential services that veterans who are homeless or near homeless may not be aware of,” said Jesse Rodriguez, chief development and finance officer with the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania.

State Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) is urging the Senate to take action before a program that provides a financial benefit to Gulf War veterans expires at the end of August.

State legislature isn’t scheduled to officially reconvene until Sept. 21. 

“[I’m] asking the Senate to come back prior to Aug. 31 and pass this no-brainer of a bill so that the veterans don’t have a lapse in benefits,” Sabatina said.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File

Kraft Heinz has announced it is cutting about 2,500 jobs in the U.S. and Canada. The move comes as the company seeks to cut costs following the Kraft and Heinz merger earlier this year. The impact on Pittsburgh will be minimal, according to Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen.

“As part of the integration, some employees will move from Pittsburgh to Chicago and likewise, some employees will move from Chicago to Pittsburgh,” said Mullen. “Heinz will continue to have a significant presence in the Pittsburgh area.”

Animal Friends Facebook page

A new litter of 32 rescued cats and kittens has put Pittsburgh's Animal Friends over its tipping point, spokeswoman Shannon Tremblay said Tuesday.

The Ohio Township-based shelter is hosting a “Twice as Nice” event through Sunday, offering a free second adoption if you pay for the first.

AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka

As Pennsylvania lawmakers continue a long-standing debate over legalizing medicinal marijuana, one University of Pittsburgh study shows officials shouldn't overlook the importance of where those future clinics could crop up.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians continues to make daily headlines. But in one of Israel’s oldest cities, Arabs and Jews are coming together to start a project that has its origin in Pittsburgh — Manchester Bidwell Corporation arts and jobs training model.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council got an earful at a public hearing Thursday on paid sick days legislation. The measure was put on hold by council last week to allow for amendments and a public hearing. 

The most visible attendees were pro-sick days legislation, though several came to represent the other side.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Latino Family Center is in a new Hazelwood space this month, their third since the unit first opened in 2009.

“It’s affordable to live here, and they have services like the Latino Family Center that can at least give them a sense of community and they know they have advocates in us and even if they’re trying to access something and can’t,” site director Rosamaria Cristello said. “They’ll come to us. They have that support.”

Better Bikeways Plan / BikePgh

Pittsburgh may not yet be a mecca for bicyclists and walkers, but local officials are trying to change that and make area roadways accessible for a mixture of transportation options. Efforts are not going unnoticed.

TransitCenter, a group that advocates for public transit and comprehensive transportation policies, released a report this week profiling Pittsburgh among six innovative U.S. cities for transportation policy planning. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

More than 50 pro-life advocates held signs and balloons outside Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue urging state lawmakers to investigate the organization and federal lawmakers to take action as part of a national “Women Betrayed” rally that marched on 50 cities Tuesday.

“We are out here to call for a defunding of Planned Parenthood,” said Amee Murphy, rally captain and executive director of Life Matters Journal. “The organization takes over 300,000 of unborn children every year and takes over $500 million of taxpayer funding every year, $7 million of which comes from Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) has been rated “outstanding” by the National Cancer Institute and has been designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Each five years we have to go through a process of self-assessment and an evaluation by outside colleagues and we’re really please this year we were labeled as ‘outstanding’ among the most elite, and of course we’re extremely excited about the funding that this brings to help to support our important research and care missions,” said Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Center.

Current and former workers in the nuclear weapons industry are eligible for compensation due to illnesses caused by their job, but some may not know how to go about getting that compensation.

The U.S. Department of Labor is hoping to help by deploying its traveling resource center around the country. Wednesday it will make a stop in southwestern Pennsylvania outlining benefits available under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

When someone is victimized in a crime, the court can order the offender to pay the victim restitution. But according to the Office of Pennsylvania Courts, many victims never receive that restitution.

“Only 12 percent of mandated restitution is dispersed to the victims, only 12 percent which is ridiculous because these people are owed their money. A lot of people just evade; they try to avoid their restitution and this is two more bills aimed at trying to collect it for victims,” said Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County).

The next 15 years of continued technological advances and planned investment in American energy infrastructure will create some 1.5 million new energy jobs, according to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who was in Pittsburgh on Friday to launch a partnership aimed at filling some of those positions with local veterans.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

City Council is slated on Wednesday to consider Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak's plain language resolution, which aims to do away with forms and other documents filled with legalese that may be hard for some people to understand.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

The Indoor Tanning Regulation Act turned one year old this month, but compliance has been slow. There are an estimated 150,000 tanning facilities in the state, and so far about 178 have registered under the act.

But advocates aren’t too worried at this point.

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