Karen Hacker

As part of the ongoing Live Well Allegheny Initiative, the county on Friday will encourage employees to take the stairs, rather than the elevators in the workplace.

“It’s a great way to get a little exercise," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Department of Health. "It’s very convenient and very efficient, and does have some real benefits.”

Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

The Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola from a Liberian patient is reported to be in good condition. However, a second person has been diagnosed with the virus. This has heightened concerns about the spread of Ebola in the United States.

Although medical professionals think chances of an outbreak in the area are low, how is the region preparing for the possibility? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students at Duquesne Elementary School in the Mon Valley spent Tuesday running, jumping and playing, all in the name of health.

“It was really exciting to be going through the school, going through the play area, the gym, seeing the Move-a-thon, seeing the kids doing yoga, and relay races and the dancing and the nutrition, having meals with fruits and vegetables,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who joined the kids for a couple of yoga poses during Tuesday’s event.

“I think we are not as unhealthy as we could be, but I think there’s lots of room for improvement,” says Dr. Karen Hacker, Allegheny County Health Department Director. 

On Monday the department begins a series of 13 public meetings over the next seven weeks to discuss health concerns throughout the county.

Flickr user Mike Licht

The Allegheny County Health Department wants you to help set its priorities as it attempts to become the healthiest county in the nation.

That’s according to department director Dr. Karen Hacker, who said the county is now moving into the second phase of its community health assessment process. The first phase was an online comment period, which Hacker said garnered more than 1,000 responses.

Officials say air quality in the county around Pittsburgh met federal standards for fine soot pollution for the first time in 2013.

Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Karen Hacker says in a Friday statement that the news marks "a huge leap forward" in efforts to improve air quality. All eight monitoring sites in the county met standards for fine particulate pollution, which can come from coal-fired power plants, autos and trucks, and plants that produce coke for steel mills.

The Allegheny County Board of Health voted to move forward on crafting a new restaurant grading system that would give eating establishments a letter grade from "A" to "C."

Health officials are warning that an extremely dangerous brand of heroin is making the rounds in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties.

Twenty-two people have died in the past week in western Pennsylvania from a suspected overdose of a mix of heroin and the powerful narcotic fentanyl, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner says they’ve found “stamp bags” labeled with the words “Theraflu,” “Bud Ice” and “Income Tax” at the scenes of the overdoses.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Live Well Allegheny is a new initiative aimed at promoting health and wellness throughout Allegheny County.

The effort was launched Tuesday by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, members of the county Board of Health and Health Department Director Karen Hacker.

Fitzgerald said while the Pittsburgh region ranks high on national lists for things such as livability and academia, it could also be a leader in healthy living.

Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

As new Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker comes into office, she faces a range of public health concerns. From smoking, obesity and air quality to green infrastructure and fracking issues, Dr. Hacker will be tackling a number of community health matters.

Many worry whether the department has the resources it needs to enforce all the state and county regulations under its purview, but Dr. Hacker says she has already received unique support from the public and from advocacy groups.

If you want to know how your neighborhood sandwich shop or your favorite sushi restaurant fared on its last health department inspection, you can find that information online, but those reports can often be full of jargon and difficult to interpret.

Now, the Allegheny County Health Department is working to make that information easier to digest by implementing a four-tiered grading system for restaurant inspections.

Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the county health department, said they’re still figuring out how that grading process would work.

The Allegheny County Health Department is celebrating a legislative victory that will allow them to more effectively monitor air and water pollution.

In December, County Council passed a law that requires companies performing hydraulic fracturing within the county to notify the Health Department as each phase of the process begins.

Allegheny County’s new health department director is setting her sights on obesity prevention.

Dr. Karen Hacker, who joined the department last week, gave a presentation about ways to address obesity during Wednesday’s meeting of the Allegheny County Board of Health.

“I think it’s a national issue," Hacker said. "Somewhere between 30-40 percent of the population is in the overweight category, and I just believe there’s a lot a community can do and a lot a public health department can do.”

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.