Health

Dank Depot / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries may eventually be permitted to sell the product in plant form for vaping, after a vote by the state's medical marijuana advisory board recommended a change in the regulations. 

Screenshot / Google Maps

A new University of Pittsburgh study asks whether a revenue model set to be introduced in six rural Pennsylvania hospitals next year can both reduce patient admissions and increase profits.

The program is expected to be implemented in 30 rural hospitals by 2023. Data from Pennsylvania's Department of Health Innovation shows that in 2015, 47 percent of all rural hospitals in Pennsylvania had negative operating profit margins

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At the offices of Pittsburgh’s Creative Nonfiction Foundation in Garfield, high schoolers experiment with writing in the style of a storied American literary institution—The Onion, a satirical online newspaper.

Marijuana-Friendly States, Including PA, Want Meeting With Sessions

Mar 30, 2018
David Goldman / AP

Pennsylvania, California and other marijuana-friendly states are seeking a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hopes of resolving the conflict between federal and state laws that has left the nation's cannabis industry in legal limbo.

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, even as 29 states have legalized pot in some form.

State treasurers from California, Oregon, Illinois and Pennsylvania told Sessions in a letter Thursday that businesses and banks need greater clarity on how federal law enforcement will respond to the growing legalization trend.

The Health Risks Of Fracking From A To Z

Mar 29, 2018
Alex Brandon / AP

Over the last 4 years, the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility have compiled a list of studies and reports which outline what they call “the risks and harms of fracking” to public health.

SalFalko / Flickr

Social Security numbers are used for just about everything--financial records, medical information, legal documents.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Shouts of surprise and joy erupted Friday at noon from graduating students at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Garisha Peoples stands in the kitchen of her first floor Rankin apartment while preparing a Russet potato for lunch. She cuts off the ends of the fist-sized tuber and then pops it in the microwave.

Subconsci Productions / Flickr

People who retire early may be tempted to purchase so-called “skinny” health insurance plans before Medicare kicks in because they’re less expensive, but Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman told an AARP audience in Penn Hills on Wednesday that they should be careful when considering this type of insurance, as it’s not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

People marched through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon, holding signs and chanting slogans in support of paid sick leave.

Keith Srakocic / AP

After less than a month of medical marijuana being sold in Pennsylvania dispensaries are running out of product.

“I would almost call it like a ‘growing pain,'” said Rocco Levine, the general manager of Solevo Wellness in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s sole dispensary, which sold the last of its marijuana over the weekend.

A Surge Of Black Lung Disease In Appalachia

Feb 22, 2018
Timothy D. Easly / AP

An ugly legacy of the coal mining industry is making a comeback in Appalachia. Despite regulations meant to protect workers from toxic coal dust, a whole new generation of miners is being diagnosed with the most severe form of black lung disease. 

NorthWest EMS

It’s about a quarter to midnight on a Sunday at the NorthWest EMS Helen Street station in McKees Rocks. EMT Edd Keisling just clocked out after working a 40-hour shift.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At about 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, the door at the Solevo Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Squirrel Hill opened, allowing in a line of patients that wrapped around the building.

Legal Medical Marijuana Sales Begin At Pennsylvania Facility

Feb 15, 2018
Ryan Kang / AP

The first legal medical marijuana sales under a 2-year-old state law began Thursday at a dispensary in western Pennsylvania, with the first purchase by a woman who lobbied for passage of the law.

A line of about a dozen people greeted employees as they opened the doors of the Cresco Yeltrah dispensary in Butler. Five other dispensaries are expected to start sales in the coming days.

Diana Briggs of Export, Pennsylvania, said the $178 purchase she made should easily be enough to treat her 17-year-old son Ryan for a month.

University of Pittsburgh

A new biotech incubator specializing in immunology will open in around two years at the site of a former Ford auto plant on Baum Boulevard.

 

Updated on Feb. 6 at 3:49 p.m. ET

Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they've identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The first medical marijuana dispensary in southwest Pennsylvania opened its doors Thursday.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Nicole Steele, clad in a face mask and thin plastic protective cover over her shirt, strung a ukulele while 14-year-old Yaheim Young played alongside her. The two had a jam session on the ninth floor of the UPMC Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville. 

Phalinn Ooi / Flickr

Suburban Pittsburgh high school students will not be getting extra sleep, for now.

The North Allegheny School Board on Wednesday tabled a proposal on whether to change the start of the high school from 7:25 a.m. to 8 a.m. The board says it needs to study the costs associated with bus routes that would be affected by the change.

Philadelphia Wants Safe Injection Sites To Help Opioid Fight

Jan 24, 2018
Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Philadelphia wants to become the first U.S. city to allow supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic, officials announced Tuesday, saying they are seeking outside operators to establish one or more in the city.

Could babies be at higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes from drinking formula made from cow's milk? That idea has been circulating for some time but the evidence has been scant and contradictory. A study published Tuesday makes it seem less likely.

There are two types of diabetes, and both are on the rise. It's clear that a major driving force behind the increase of Type 2 diabetes, which mainly affects adults, is the eating habits that are also driving the rise of obesity.

Feds Employ Data-Driven Early Warning System In Opioid Fight

Jan 2, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The pain clinic tucked into the corner of a low-slung suburban strip mall was an open secret.

Googlemaps

After a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania closed, early-life health outcomes improved for babies across the border, in New Jersey.

The Portland Generating Station sits on the Delaware River, about two hours north of Philadelphia and right across the border from New Jersey. While in operation, it was one of the most prodigious emitters of sulfur dioxide in the nation, primarily affecting Jersey’s Warren, Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon Counties. It stopped burning coal in 2014, after the Environmental Protection Agency demanded it reduce its pollution levels.

marcus eubanks/Flickr

Many people find it difficult to work, exercise and socialize this time of year due to a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

UPMC/Pitt Health Sciences

Prosthetics researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have landed a $5.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a lower limb prosthesis that mimics the feeling of a leg or foot.

Current prosthetics lack sensory feedback, so people who have lost a leg often struggle to walk. To recreate the sensations of balance and pressure, researchers are experimenting with an implant that transmits electronic signals to a simulator worn on the belt. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The open enrollment period for people buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace ends next Friday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At least 49 genes contribute to whether one’s earlobes are attached or detached.

That's what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found in a new study. Lead author John R. Shaffer says this work could help shed light on serious genetic syndromes.

"Some of these conditions, like an example is Mowat-Wilson syndrome, the ear involves earlobe malformations," said Shaffer. "In the same genes that affect normal variation in the morphology, when they're disrupted, they lead to genetic syndromes."

Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

A public health researcher delivered a dire warning on Monday during a panel on the implications of the planned Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County.

"When we allow industry to get way out in front of public health and environmental oversight, we end up counting bodies,” said Dr. Brian Schwartz of the Geisinger Center for Health Research in Montour County.

Toby Talbot / AP

A southeastern Pennsylvania county sued 11 pharmaceutical companies Thursday for marketing tactics that county officials say misrepresent the dangers of long-term opioid usage while a national overdose crisis continues to kill tens of thousands of people annually.

Delaware County alleged in its complaint that the companies and three consulting physicians engaged in promotional campaigns that encouraged prolonged and widespread use of their powerful painkillers, despite knowing that in doing so consumers risked damaging health effects and addiction.

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