health

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

Mercy Children’s Hospital and Clinics in the Des Moines metro are the first in the state to offer something called Cinemavision for young patients undergoing MRIs. The children can now watch movies to distract them from the medical procedure they’re experiencing.

Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Christy of Johnston has been inside an MRI machine plenty of times since being diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was ten. Up until now, she’s relied on general anesthesia to ease her anxiety. The last 90-minute-long scan was different. She watched the movie “Pitch Perfect.”

Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program's logo
Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program / University of Iowa Health Care

The Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) is one of ten programs to recently lose all of its state funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health. For RAP, the $384,552 cut is about 70 percent of its budget.

Advocates worry the budget cut could lead to the loss of the program’s family navigators. They’re stationed throughout the state and connect families to services when children are diagnosed with autism.

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows per-capita opioid prescriptions decreased in the U.S. from 2010 to 2015. But in one-third of Iowa's counties, prescriptions increased over the same time period.

The CDC encourages doctors to reduce opioid prescribing when treating pain because these medications are associated with abuse and overdose rates. The opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths in Iowa have been on the rise. 

Flickr / Raymond Clack

A cut in state funding may cause a nonprofit to end its program of training lay people on how to screen children's vision.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is eliminating $96,000 in annual funding to Prevent Blindness Iowa. In a letter to the organization, IDPH's Bureau Chief of Family Health Marcus Johnson-Miller writes this move is the result of a budget shortfall and is "in no way an indication of poor performance or lack of contract compliance."

telemedicine
NEC Corporation of America / flickr

A new telehealth initiative will expand HIV prevention efforts in rural Iowa.

TelePrEP will use at-home video calls and the postal system to administer HIV prevention medication to rural residents at risk for acquiring the disease. University of Iowa Health Care, The Signal Center for Health Innovation and the Iowa Department of Public Health are collaborating on TelePrEP, which they believe is the only program of its kind in the country.

Angie Hoth is the coordinator for TelePrEP. She says in other Midwestern states, HIV cases are mostly concentrated in big cities.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Four of Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics are ending operations today. This is a result of state Republican lawmakers successfully blocking federal funding to medical providers that perform abortions.

No public dollars are used to pay for abortions in Iowa. The funding went to health care services like IUD insertions and cancer screenings. But anti-abortion legislators say any public funding to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports abortion.

Sanofi Pasteur / Patrick Boulen

Chikungunya is a debilitating inflammatory virus carried by mosquitoes. The University of Iowa is one of three sites in the U.S. that is enrolling participants for a clinical trial of an experimental vaccine for chikungunya. The illness has been found in the U.S.

UnityPoint Health

Heart surgeons at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids are beginning to use a revolutionary device in one of the most common heart procedures. The new technology is known as the “world’s smallest pacemaker.” Previously, pacemakers were inserted in the shoulder and required a long incision and wires leading to the heart. This device is put into the leg and carried to the heart by a vein. The director of the Arrhythmic Center at St. Luke’s, Dr. Mohit Chawla, says it makes a huge difference in how fast patients recover.

syringe
WerbeFabrik / Pixabay

Two eastern Iowa nonprofits will offer free naloxone —a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose—starting June 1. It's the first time the overdose reversal drug will be available for free in Iowa.

The Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition and Quad Cities Harm Reduction will distribute naloxone each week in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Iowa City.

The drug has been available at pharmacies, but the cost can prevent people from obtaining it. One dose costs about $150 with insurance.  

Flickr / Ted Eytan

A record 136 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV in 2016. The Iowa Department of Public Health says this is probably not due to an increased rate in transmissions, but rather likely an outcome of additional funding and social media efforts to encourage Iowans to get tested.

The department admits it doesn’t know how many Iowans were tested for HIV last year. But data shows a larger percentage of people diagnosed were in an early stage of the disease, meaning more HIV-positive individuals aren’t waiting until they became sick to find out if they’ve contracted the virus.

naloxone
Tom Wolf / flickr

Hy-Vee announced Wednesday it is now offering over-the-counter naloxone—a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose—in Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray or an injection to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. A state order allows Iowa pharmacies to go through training to be able to sell the drug to a customer without a prescription.

pills
Be.Futureproof/flickr

The Iowa Department of Public Health has received a federal grant to expand treatment for opioid abuse across the state.

About $5.4 million will go to different communities over two years to improve treatment through medication and counseling.

Monica Wilke-Brown is project director for the grant. She says previous opportunities for providers to learn more about treating opioid abuse disorders were concentrated in just a few areas.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reported cases of gonorrhea infections in Iowa are up more than 75 percent in the last three years, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The department says while Iowa's overall infection rate isn't unusual, the sudden increase in infections from 2013 is unique. 

IDPH STD program manager George Walton says part of the reason for this increase is that providers are conducting more comprehensive testing, which has identified cases that would have otherwise gone undetected. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

On almost every college campus, there are dining halls and cafeterias filled to the brim with food. Students have their pick of practically anything they want. And yet, a surprisingly high percentage of these young people are hungry.

Grand View University senior Shannon Kaster is not your typical undergraduate college student. To begin, the Boone-native is 33-years-old.

“I’m married, I have a four-year-old son at home and I’m pregnant with another one due in July,” she says.

But she is experiencing something that is becoming all too common on campuses nationwide.

wellington heights intersection
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Carletta Knox-Seymour says gun violence came to the forefront in Cedar Rapids in 2015 after a 14-year-old boy shot and killed a 15-year-old. 

"Many facets of the city came together recognizing, at that point, how devastating things must have become in order for this to happen," she says. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Breast cancer survivors and their supporters were at the capitol Thursday for a bill-signing of legislation known as Patty’s Law, named for a West Des Moines cancer patient.  

The new law directs mammogram providers to let a woman know if she has dense breast tissue, so she can get an ultrasound in addition to a mammogram.  

Advocates say dense tissue can prevent tumors from showing up.      

Fifty-nine year old Patty Bernard is suffering from stage four breast cancer.

University of Iowa College of Public Health

A new report from the State Health Registry of Iowa shows the rate of new liver cancer cases has tripled in the state since the 1970s.

According to the "Cancer in Iowa" report released Wednesday, new cases of liver cancer were detected in six of 100,000 Iowans in the period from 2010 to 2014. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Piercing your ears would be exempt, but advancing to the nose or lips or beyond should require parental consent. 

That’s according to a bill considered at the Iowa Statehouse today.  

Backers say the measure would bring body piercing into better alignment with tattooing, which is banned altogether in Iowa for people under age 18, with or without parental consent.   

Daniel Zeno with the ACLU of Iowa says freedom of expression is at stake.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Public health experts and medical professionals crowded into a committee room at the statehouse today, presenting a united front against a bill to allow more Iowans to avoid getting their children vaccinated for preventable diseases.    

Currently, families can claim a religious exemption.   The bill would extend that to anyone with a personal conviction against vaccines.   

Mr. Atoz/Wikimedia Commons

When Mike McGinn was 11 months old, his parents had him taken to be tested for a peanut allergy. They didn't expect what happened next.

"I was clinically dead for over a minute," he says. "I had the food challenge done, which is giving your child a suspected allergen and seeing what happens. They put a Ritz sandwich cracker in my mouth, and I had an anaphylactic reaction immediately." 

McGinn isn't alone in having a severe peanut allergy. Food sensitivities among children are on the rise. The most common are wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, seafood, soy and eggs. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

Thirty opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline were arrested Wednesday and charged with trespassing for blocking construction vehicles from entering a construction site in Boone County.

La Homa Simmonds of Boone was one of the protestors arrested.

“It was really kind of surreal,” she says. “You’re looking out, and you’re seeing Dakota access workers standing there. You see the state patrol. You’re seeing the fields that are being torn up not even three miles away.”

Schools across Iowa are beginning classes this week amid concerns from public health officials about the drop in vaccination rates. At many schools, the percentage of students fully vaccinated is below 90 percent, and at a few around the state, it's below 50 percent. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says more families are seeking exemptions from vaccinations for a variety of reasons. 

"One of the reasons is that people no longer have seen these diseases and therefore don't realize how bad they can be," she explains. 

Courtesy of Derek Gunn

It's an easy punch line when someone makes a strange noise or makes a random body movement to joke about Tourette syndrome. But for some Iowans, it isn't funny.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that affects body movement, and one out of every 360 children in the United States is diagnosed each year. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Samuel Kuperman of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who treats patients with TS and two Iowans who live with the syndrome. 

Flickr / Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission says more than $700,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 healthcare professionals who work in rural Iowa. The grants will be matched by the communities where the recipients are employed.

Danielle Weber is a physical therapist who lives and works in Jefferson, the seat of Greene County. With more than $80,000 in debt she says the grant is like winning the lottery.

She explains that while her tuition at Des Moines University was “not cheap,” salaries in rural communities tend to skew lower.

Pat Blank/IPR

Eagle Lake in Evansdale is home to the nationally-ranked competitive water ski team known as the Water Hawks.  The lake is small, only 15 feet deep. It’s usually buzzing with skiers practicing for their next show, but one day each July it’s transformed into a playground for people with mobility limitations.  

Fourteen-year-old Suzanne Shoemaker has cerebral palsy and earlier this week, was here at the adaptive ski clinic near Waterloo for the second time.

Kevin Schuchmann/Wikimedia Commons

Many of us turn to nature for peace, recreation, and inspiration, and research is starting to support how interaction with the natural world can improve health and decrease stress.

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett is an Integrative Medicine Specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. When she started practicing medicine, she worked as an obstetrician. Today, she’s incorporating what she calls nature therapy into her new integrative medicine practice.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called "superbugs."

Researchers found E. coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin in a pig at an Illinois slaughterhouse, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said earlier this week. Colistin is often used against bacteria that fail to respond to more common antibiotics.

Some Blood Types Running Low in Iowa

Jun 16, 2016

Blood supplies often decline during the summer months, and a regional blood center says it has only a one-day supply of several blood types on hand. LifeServe blood center in Des Moines says it tries to keep more than a three-day supply on hand for the more than 100 hospitals it serves in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

The blood types with less than a two-day supply are: O positive and negative, AB positive and negative, and A negative.  Life Serve has about a two-to-three day supply of A positive and B negative.

Dean Borg/IPR

Jason Schroeder is praising a new prosthetic leg with a motorized, flexing ankle that distinguishes it from others that he has used.

“I have quite the collection,” explains the 45-year-old Schroeder, of Colona, Illinois. “One for every occasion. Water skiing, snow skiing, running."

Schroeder had to make the amputation decision in 2005 after a rail car crushed his left foot.

“So we went in,” he said, “decided to amputate the leg, about nine inches below the knee.”

Credit Zach Bouden-Holmes / The Des Moines Register

Just over a year ago, Daniel Finney, metro columnist for the Des Moines Register, made a big decision--to try to lose 300 pounds. Shortly after that decision, he made an even braver choice--to share the journey publicly in the state capital's paper of record. 

Pages