health

fetal heartbeat subcommittee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Updated Monday, Feb. 12, 2018:

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a fetal heartbeat abortion bill Monday, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against it. The bill can now be taken up for a vote by the full Iowa Senate.  

Original post from Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018:

A fetal heartbeat bill that would effectively ban almost all abortions advanced in the Iowa Senate Thursday after an hour of public testimony from people on both sides of the issue.

dan dawson and brad zaun
John Pemble / IPR

A three-member Senate panel Wednesday unanimously agreed to move a bill forward that would legalize needle exchange programs for people who inject drugs.

Needle exchange programs have been used in other states to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and help get drug users into treatment. In Iowa, it’s still illegal to distribute needles for drug use.

tom greene
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A three-member Senate panel is delaying a decision on a bill that would require all medical providers to electronically submit drug prescriptions to pharmacies.

Sen. Tom Greene, (R-Burlington), who worked as a pharmacist, says the bill would help curb the abuse of opioids and other controlled substances.

“I’ve so blatantly had people hand me a handwritten prescription the doctor wrote for 10 sleeping pills, and they changed the one to a four,” Greene says. “Easy change.”

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa is receiving mostly failing grades from the American Lung Association for its efforts to curb smoking. The advocacy group is calling for some legislative fixes.

The only area in which the state receives an A from the Lung Association is in providing smoke-free air in many public places. But much of the rest of its report card is filled with Fs. Iowa drew one of the Fs for the level of state tobacco taxes. The senior regional director for the association, Pat McKone, says she’d like to see the tax on a pack of cigarettes go up by at least $1.50.

Gisela Giardino/Flickr

"Wine is to women as duck tape is to men: it fixes everything. " "I make wine disappear, what's your super power?" "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, but if the white runs out, I'll drink red."

These are supposed to be jokes, but they may also be indicative of a growing problem. During this hour on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Ann Dowsett-Johnson, author of "Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol," about women's relationship with drinking culture. 

supplies in parking lot
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

On a below-freezing night in Cedar Rapids, three med school students meet in a parking lot and start unloading boxes from a crammed car trunk.

They sort through condoms, housing paperwork, fentanyl test strips, and vials filled with a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. There are booklets about safe injection practices, test kits for HIV and hepatitis C, and needles, syringes and cookers.

The first person to stop by is Dennis Brown, a former drug user who tries to help people who are still struggling with addiction.

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There are a lot of different tools designed to monitor fitness. From the low tech-scale and body mass index (BMI) calculations, to the high tech dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) body scan, which is designed to measure body fat and more.

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores an aspect of physical health that many people examine this time of year. With new goals for fitness or weight loss, she talks about fitness assessments new and old.

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The winter solstice happens this Thursday morning, which means that each day this week has the least amount of sunshine per day. In Iowa, that means anywhere from just under nine hours of daylight to about nine hours 15 minutes depending on where you are located.

On this River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorders Center to discuss the latest in sleep news and research. There is a new study finding that our personal sleep requirements may be affected by our genes.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical treatment that's been around for thousands of years.  It has become more mainstream over the course of the last twenty years, and in this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Deb van Latenstein who is a licensed acupuncturist at the Acupuncture Wellness Center and Allergy Clinic of Iowa in Des Moines. She says acupuncture isn't magic, and it's easiest to understand if you think about the body about a piece of meat. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A new initiative to combat childhood obesity in Iowa will get underway next month as nearly one-third of Iowa 10 to 17- year- olds remain overweight or obese.      

Communities in Mills, Dubuque, Henry, and Fayette Counties will receive $18,000 grants to promote the program known as “5210-Healthy Choices Count.”

“This is the first statewide effort to provide consistent messaging and programming regarding the subject of childhood obesity,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh.

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

A new federal grant will fund a statewide media campaign to educate teenagers and young adults about the dangers of misusing prescription opioids.

Janet Nelson at the Iowa Department of Public Health says the campaign will work to fill gaps in knowledge about prescription drugs.

"Youth, a lot of times, feel that if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, it can't be harmful," Nelson says. 

The grant will also help three counties—Polk, Jasper and Scott—develop additional strategies to reduce problems with prescription opioid abuse.

Get Better Sleep

Oct 24, 2017
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A seven-year-old Kentucky boy recently slept for eleven days straight. This hour, hear about the medical mystery that has doctors baffled. On this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talk with sleep expert and neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics about the boy's dangerous slumber. 

Dyken says there is limited information about this case, and he does not have the medical records that would allow him to know more.  But he compares this with a case he did see in Iowa which was a case of viral encephalopathy.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she hasn’t received any indication from the White House that it opposes Iowa’s attempt to lower premium rates for health insurance policies on the Obamacare exchange.

WIKICOMMONS / Nevit Dilmen

Iowa has enough money through March to continue providing health care to children from moderate and low income families, while Congress figures out how to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The program provides healthcare to nearly 9 million children nationwide, including 60,000 in Iowa. States structure CHIP programs differently, which means funding will run out in different places at different intervals.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Southeast Iowa’s Des Moines County is considering applying for federal funding, know as the Title X program, to create a clinic to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare to low-income people, including to those who don't qualify for Medicaid services.

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In under three years, Mike Glenn went from needing glasses to complete vision loss. In this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with guests about conditions that can lead to adult vision loss or severe impairment. Glenn lost his vision to diabetic retinopathy. Nebbe also talks with Archie Rodin who has gradually been losing his sight to macular degeneration.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The rate of obesity in Iowa is on the decline. New numbers suggest, however, many Iowans still struggle with weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting the obesity rate in Iowa for 2016 is at 32 percent. That’s down a tick from 32.1 the previous year. A community health consultant with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Erin Olson, is encouraged by the downward movement but says there’s still concern.

Flickr / Takeshi Kuboki

Don’t look at the sun during Monday’s eclipse.

That’s the message from Dr. Michael Abramoff, an ophthalmologist and retinal specialist at the University of Iowa. He warns that during every total solar eclipse, about five or 10 people permanently damage their eyes.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Recently, four Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa ended operations. This comes after the Republican-controlled state legislature blocked federal funding to the organization as a way to restrict abortion access. But in addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland provides birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings.

To see if these closings have affected healthcare access in the state, I visited southeast Iowa, where two of the four clinics that recently closed were located.

Bryan McDonald/flickr

The Iowa Department of Public Health is advising families about a new vaccination requirement for students going back to school next month.  

Under a new state law, meningitis vaccine will be required for students entering 7th and 12th grades for the 2017-2018 school year. 

girl in helmet
Jim Araos / U.S. Air Force

Iowa is rolling out new guidelines for supporting students as they recover from concussions.

Maggie Ferguson is the brain injury and disability program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says past concussion policies were focused on high school student-athletes and how long they should rest before playing sports again.

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.  

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