Mark Nootbaar

Special Reporter

Mark Nootbaar is a native of Illinois but moved to Pittsburgh more than 16 years ago to become the Assistant News Director at National Public Radio Charter Member Station WDUQ. As assistant News Director, Mark served as WDUQ’s lead reporter and morning assignment editor. After WDUQ was sold in 2011, Mark moved with the frequency to the new station to become the Senior News Editor. In 2016 he returned to his reporting roots as Special Reporter and in that context oversees such reporting projects as 90.5 WESA Celebrates, Tech Reports, and more.

Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

Ways to Connect

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

On the day she was released from prison, Katy Anke and her parents learned there was an open bed at a private treatment facility near Pittsburgh. She could check herself in at 10 a.m. the following day. After weeks of trying to find a place that would take her, it sounded perfect.  

Gene Puskar / AP

The uninsured rate in the U.S. is at a record low and studies show Pittsburgh is beating the average.

According to research from the personal finance website WalletHub, Pittsburgh ranks 8th in the nation among the 64 largest cities, with a 6.42 percent uninsured rate. That compares to a national average of 8.6 percent.

University of Pittsburgh health economist Lindsay Sabik said having health insurance doesn’t always lead to access to affordable health care.

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

In 1982, when Bobbee Kramer’s husband's heart failed while they were traveling to Texas, she had no choice but to remain in Houston, away from home with no connections, while he got the medical attention he needed to survive.

Kramer said she sat alone in the intensive care waiting room, until a woman approached her one day. She asked Kramer if she lived in Houston, and if she knew someone in the hospital. Kramer explained her situation.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

When then-Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri died from amyloidosis in 1988 not much was known about the disease. Since then, research and awareness has increased and now an endowed chair is being created to further research and treatment at the University of Pittsburgh.

Amyloidosis is a systemic disease that usually attacks the heart but can impact other internal organs.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Law enforcement, public health officials and policy experts are hoping a 64-page report released Wednesday will serve as a model for the rest of the world when it comes to combating the growing opioid crisis.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small start-up in East Liberty is working on an in-home test kit that could help predict the risk of having a heart attack.

Accel Diagnostics is placing a common blood test done in hospitals onto a device no bigger than a credit card.

Vice President of Engineering Greg Lewis said the test could measure B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or troponin, both of which are released when heart muscles are overly stressed.

Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP for College of American Pathologists

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

Sitting in their living room in McCandless, Bob and Dena Masterino struggled to answer what is usually a fairly easy question: who are you voting for?

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you drive into Johnstown from the west, it’s hard to miss the flower boxes that line the streets. The boxes were originally made for a citywide celebration that has been long forgotten — but since 2006, the West End Improvement Group has been keeping them filled for the neighborhood all summer long.

“We started with 13 flower boxes that we had asked businesses in the West End to kind of adopt and take care of,” said Rose Howarth, who runs the all-volunteer organization.

US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland.

This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Liberty Bridge reopened on Monday to vehicles weighing less than nine tons.

“The bridge is good for cars, ambulances and pick-up trucks,” said PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna. “It excludes buses, empty tri-axle trucks and heavier trucks than that.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf brings his message on combating the opioid epidemic to a joint session of the state legislature Wednesday, he will be speaking to a group that for the most part is already aware of the issue.

“They’re all fed up with this,” said State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene, Washington) of her constituents.  “It’s a scourge and they know that we have to all stand together and try every angle we possibly can.”

Last year, more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians died of an opioid overdose including 424 in Allegheny County.

Alan Diaz / AP

Most mental and behavioral health patients first get help through their primary care doctor.  In fact, more prescriptions for antidepressants drugs are written by primary care physicians than by mental health doctors. 

Evan Vucci / AP

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

More than 1,300 energy industry representatives are in downtown Pittsburgh this week for the annual Shale Insight Conference that this year is focusing on getting the gas from the well to the user.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer told a crowd gathered inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center that the Pittsburgh region is lacking when it comes to pipelines and other infrastructure needed to get the gas to market.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A law requiring businesses in Pittsburgh to give workers paid sick leave has been tied up for nearly a year in the courts, so a workers advocacy group is taking the fight directly to restaurant owners.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

The lead acid battery, invented in the mid-1800s, has been the technology of choice when it comes to starting cars for decades. Though small advances over the years have made car batteries more reliable, lead acid batteries are still essentially the same.

Michael Conroy / AP

When the for-profit college ITT Technical Institute ceased operations this month, officials at the Community College of Allegheny County decided to help.

“This is a group of people who are just blindsided by this, they have an interest in moving forward and maybe we can help,” CCAC Provost Stuart Blacklaw said.

Blacklaw said CCAC has several programs similar to ones offered at ITT.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

Navy veteran Ken Haynes stepped off a beefed-up RV, sporting military logos and said he was impressed with the vehicle.

The RV was a Vet Center’s mobile unit, touring the Pittsburgh area this week. Haynes stopped by on Wednesday when it was parked outside the Veterans Leadership Program offices in the Strip District. Later, it parked and opened its doors at the River Hounds Game on the South Side.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Under a tent in a Canonsburg parking lot Wednesday, the free hamburgers and chips flowed like shale gas through Washington County.

The food was there to feed a few hundred supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at his new volunteer center, located in an office building.  

Many of them held hand-made signs reading, “Deplorables for Trump.”

Katie Meyer / WITF

This year, state legislators determined that the Department of Health would be responsible for reducing the backlog of untested rape kits. So far, department of health officials said that effort has not been successful.

Part of that agreement also stipulated that the Department of Health would ensure that local police departments submitted all of the untested kits.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Alisa Grishman has dealt with the effects of Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, for 15 years. And though the Americans with Disabilities Act aims to make life easier for those with disabilities, she can find it frustrating.

“In my opinion, one of the failings of how the ADA was written is that it’s a complaint-driven law and you have to complain all the time,” said Grishman.

Studio Roosegaarde / Flickr

People cannot be defined by their mental health symptoms and should be treated as complex people, according to Familylinks Senior Director of Behavioral Health Paul Tedesco.

Russell Lee (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons

Roughly 100,000 retired coal miners across the U.S. are collecting pensions, but there isn’t enough money left in the system.

Some coal miners are planning to rally in Washington D.C. Thursday in an effort to convince lawmakers to release nearly $300 million in federal funds needed to shore up deleted pension programs. About 12,000 retired miners in Pennsylvania stand to benefit from it.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s auditor general is painting a no-win picture with his most recent audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

While Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the turnpike is doing well when it comes to controlling spending and managing its money, he said there are structural problems in place that could eventually lead to the collapse not only of the turnpike, but also of much of the state’s transportation system.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration said it will save $214 million over the next three years by changing health benefits and long-term non-paid leave rules for government employees.

“This is the first health plan design change in over 12 years for the state and the changes represent the most significant health plan savings in Pennsylvania in recent history,” said Spokesman Jeff Sheridan.

Much of the savings will be generated through having employees and retirees in PPO plans cover deductibles and make co-pays for some in-network services and prescriptions.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When Chico Ficerai’s son admitted he was addicted to heroin, she turned to her church. The prayer and support helped, but she needed more guidance.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate Katie McGinty rolled out her jobs creating package Wednesday during a stop in Pittsburgh.

She said manufacturing jobs are a part of Pittsburgh’s past, but also need to be a part of its future.

“The cutting edge of manufacturing is not about cheap labor,” McGinty said while standing in front of the “Industry” mural at the Allegheny County Courthouse. “It’s about skilled labor, plus technology, plus speed to market.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It’s not always easy for a person to find basic services when they are homeless, according to Bob Firth.

“For example, Google, ‘free dental care Pittsburgh,’ and you will get 10,000 hits for a free dental evaluation, followed by $5,000 in work,” Firth said.

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