Allegheny County Health Department

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

This week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a series of bills aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic in the state but the legislature let several bills expire without a vote.

Allegheny County Department of Health Director Karen Hacker said she supports the actions of the state in general, but she would like to see more done to combat the opioid epidemic.

Among the laws passed, Hacker said she is most interested in a bill calling for more education for medical professionals on safe opioid prescribing.

Richard Pedroncelli / ap

The Allegheny County Board of Health has placed e-cigarettes under nearly all of the same regulations as traditional cigarettes when it comes to use indoors. The vote Wednesday came after a series of speakers asked for the policy to be rejected.

Former smoker Dale Ray spoke in opposition to the regulations. He said he had diminished lung function due to his smoking habit. He said tried to quit smoking several times but it never stuck until he tried e-cigarettes.

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.  

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public officials have installed between three and six water bottle filling stations in each the district's 54 schools after finding 141 water fixtures texted positive for elevated levels of lead.

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.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department heard public testimony Monday on proposed e-cigarette regulations.

The ban would apply to places where smoking is also currently prohibited under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

This includes schools, hospitals, restaurants, public transportation, sports facilities and theaters.

Flickr user Ecig Click

The Allegheny County Health Department is seeking public input on a proposed rule that would ban e-cigarettes and vaping from many indoor spaces. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m.

The ban would apply to places where smoking is also currently prohibited under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

Justin Wier / 90.5 WESA

McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania is just 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. It has a rich history. The first American Eagle Outfitters opened there in 1912. A native American burial mound in the borough is the earliest place of human habitation in the region. But while Pittsburgh is experiencing a renaissance, the blue-collar borough is still struggling to get back on track. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County needs more resources to battle the opioid epidemic gripping southwestern Pennsylvania, Human Services and Health department representatives said at a state legislative hearing Tuesday.

Allegheny County Health Department

The Allegheny County Health Department will use new placards designed to make it easier to check restaurant and food facilities' inspection histories. 

A green, yellow or red sticker will adorn food establishments throughout the county, after undergoing an inspection. Each one will have a QR code, which patrons can scan with their smartphones to access a facility’s inspection report.

Food Safety Program Director Donna Scharding said the signs allow consumers to make educated decisions conveniently.

Hydro / flickr

Gun violence is the leading cause of mortality among young black men and the county needs to treat it as a public health issue, according to Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

How do we help to prevent this?” Hacker asked. “And how do we help communities to heal because the impact of this kind of violence is really like post-traumatic stress in many of our communities.”

She found an ally in the local Christian community.

CDC

The number of Pennsylvanians infected with acute hepatitis C more than doubled from 2009 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report shows that after the infection rate leveled off for a few years, it jumped from 39 cases per every 100,000 Pennsylvanians in 2009 to 81 in 2013, the latest year data is available. That translates to about 10,000 Pennsylvanians currently living with the liver disease.

John Amis / AP

School nurses in Allegheny County will soon begin reporting HPV vaccination rates to the county Health Department.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Peggy Glatch spends all day on her feet. She’s constantly moving while cutting her customers' hair.

She’s worked as a hair stylist for more than 40 years, the last 15 at Izzazu Salon downtown.

The salon was recognized as the first Live Well Workplace by the Allegheny County Health Department. Workplace is the fourth installment in the county’s push for healthier lifestyles, Live Well Allegheny.

University of Wisconsin

Premature deaths and infant mortality rates are dropping as Allegheny County continues to improve in health rankings statewide.

That’s according to an annual study conducted by the University of Wisconsin looking at the overall health of all U.S. counties.

Allegheny County ranked 26th among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and has climbed steadily for the last five years. Philadelphia County ranked last, though nearby Chester County came in as the healthiest in the state.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Every day, Pine-Richland High School Nurse Susan Leonberg sees 30 to 40 students come through her office door. 

She said the number of students is average, but the number of flu cases she's seen isn't. So far, no confirmed flu cases have been reported.

“Many times, we do not get notified of confirmed cases," Leonberg said. "But as far as clinically, I don’t think we have seen it. We’ve had sick children, but not flu sick. You know, the normal kind of stuff.”

The Challenges Of Repurposing Industrial Sites

Mar 8, 2016
Jon Dawson / flickr

The Waterfront is an example of a former industrial site that has been redeveloped. As developers ponder the future of the Shenango Coke Plant site, what are the challenges involved in redeveloping industrial sites?  We’ll pose that question to Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) and Reid Frazier, environmental reporter for the Allegheny Front. We’ll also ask Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health for the Allegheny County Health Department, what concerns he has and what he’ll be looking for as they tear down the plant.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Health Department officials announced their first group of “Live Well” restaurants on Thursday in a continued effort to provide healthier options to locals.

The list, so far, includes the Bridges Restaurant in the Oakland Wyndham hotel and four UPMC hospital cafeterias and cafes.

Auntie P. / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and area health and services organizations are collaborating on AIDS Free Pittsburgh, a three-pronged public health initiative.

“We’re going to normalize HIV testing," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. "We’re going to make improvements in standardizing our linkages to care for those that are diagnosed, and we’re going to improve access to a variety of prevention tools.” 

Environmental Protection Agency

  Residents driving past the Clack Health Complex in Lawrenceville might notice green, orange and red flags flying over the building -- a visual guide for those concerned about local air quality.  

The Allegheny County Health Department has adopted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s program of flying pennants to signify air quality levels. The color-coded banners went up last week.

A Wilmerding family's exposure to rabies after taking in a pair of stray kittens prompted the Allegheny County Health Department to warn residents not to touch or take in feral animals and wildlife.

“It is well-intentioned efforts by individuals trying to help, and sometimes they unnecessarily get exposed to rabies,” chief public health nurse Sharon Silvestri said.

The family is doing fine, she said, because rabies is not a fast acting virus. The incubation period can take 30 days up to several years before it reaches the nervous system and travel to the brain, she said.

Tom / Flickr

  Mosquitos with West Nile virus are turning up in more city neighborhoods and communities, and that means more spraying.

The Allegheny County Health Department opted to fight West Nile in Bloomfield, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights with a truck-mounted, Ultra Low Volume sprayer between 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday after recent mosquito samples tested positive for the virus. 

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.

Mike McNeil / Flickr

Allegheny County is one of four sites nationwide to be chosen for a new initiative aimed at improving health throughout the county.

The Bridging for Health: Improving Community Health Through Innovations in Financing initiative will have the health department working with the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to simplify and strengthen the links among different health-related areas, according to Karen Hacker, Allegheny County Health Department director.

The Allegheny County Health Department will be conducting a survey with the help of the University of Pittsburgh in the next few weeks to gauge the overall health of the county.

The 25-minute survey will be conducted by phone with about 9,000 county residents in an effort to fill in some big blank spots in the data.

AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File

Cases of Lyme disease are on the rise in Allegheny County, with a more than 40-fold increase in a little over a decade.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACDH) is warning the public of this rise and offering preventive tips.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following more than a year of planning, research and community meetings, Allegheny County has released the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny (PHA), which sets priorities for health officials and partners to work on going forward.

“It’s a five-year plan that sets forth health priorities, measurable goals and strategies to reach those goals,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The plan identifies five key areas to focus on, including access, the environment, maternal and child health, mental health and substance abuse.

Eleven years ago, Tina Gaser moved into a home in Lawrenceville and right away noticed that when the wind blew in just the wrong direction she could smell the McConway & Torley Steel Foundry just a few blocks away.

A few years later, her husband had a stroke that doctors say could have been indirectly caused by high levels of fine particulate matter in the air. Tonight she will speak at a public hearing calling on the plant to live under tighter environmental controls.

You take the good with the bad.

That’s what officials at the Allegheny County Health Department said about the sixth annual County Health Rankings released last week.

According to the report, the county improved from 40th to 34th in health outcomes, but fell from 15th to 19th in health factors, which include measurements of health behaviors, social and economic factors and physical environments.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

With just two weeks left to sign up for health insurance through state and federal online exchanges, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has declared March 17-23, 2014 to be Affordable Care Act Week in Allegheny County.

Fitzgerald said county officials are working with nearly three dozen partner organizations on “one last push to encourage residents to get all the information and be able to enroll in the marketplace.”