Health

Affordable Care Act enrollment has increased in North Carolina.
U.S. Health and Human Services

Beginning this week, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians will again shop for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Entering 2017, however, shoppers in this state will see fewer options than in previous years.

An image of a bottle of OxyContin
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Deaths by opioid overdose are on the rise nationwide, and North Carolina remains hit hard by the epidemic.  In 2014, opioids killed more than 28,000 people, more than any years on record.  At least half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. 

LEARN NC, UNC School of Education.

Photographer Jon Crispin spent five years shooting a collection of more than 400 suitcases discovered in an attic at the Willard Psychiatric Center in upstate New York. The intimate portraits are widely acclaimed for adding a layer of humanity to patients who might otherwise only be remembered by their hollow medical records.

An image of a memorial to Ash Haffner, who died by suicide in 2015
EdNC

The youth suicide rate has increased in North Carolina since the start of the decade. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults between ages 15 and 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

Meanwhile, LGBT youth are twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers. Organizations including the Child Fatality Task Force and the Wake County Public School System have offered policy recommendations and programs to prevent the rising teenage suicide rate.

An image of an empty hospital bed
Public domain

Thousands of Medicaid recipients across North Carolina are being denied government-assisted funding for personal-care services. In April 2015, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Medical Assistance changed the requirements for personal-care eligibility.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it might remove some of its health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Jed Record / Flickr Creative Commons

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced Thursday it would continue to offer Affordable Care Act health insurance plans in all 100 North Carolina counties.

The announcement comes after months of internal debate at the state’s largest insurer. In May, BCBSNC announced heavy financial losses it incurred from individuals who buy these “Obamacare” plans.

UNC Hospital
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Across North Carolina, health systems will again face penalties because too many patients returned to hospitals shortly after being discharged.

In fact, hospitals will pay higher penalties in 2017 than any year in history.

NC State Study Finds Tailgating A Hot Spot For Pollution

Aug 29, 2016
Photo of a smoking grill
Jack Bunds

Football season is right around the corner. But according to an NC State study, you might want to reconsider your tailgating plans.

A team of NC State professors, led by Kyle Bunds, Jonathan Casper and Chris Frey measured air quality at football games, before, during and after the game. They found several sources of potentially harmful pollution.

LaVare Leith Foundation

 

An organization in Durham is running what is believed to be the only sober living center for LGBT people in the South. 

LaVare's House, which was established by the LaVare Leith Foundation in 2014, has nine beds for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

a photo of an aedes aegypi mosquito
James Gathany / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers say practicing safe sex is now even more important, as the Zika virus continues to spread.

Thirty-three people in North Carolina have been infected with Zika as of August 12 after traveling to high-risk areas, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

raw peanuts
Pixabay / Creative Commons

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine may be one step closer to treating life-threatening peanut allergies in children.

As part of a study to test the effectiveness of oral immunotherapy, researchers fed preschoolers allergic to peanuts increasing doses of peanut protein for two years. Eighty percent of participants reported no reaction to peanuts by the end of the test period.

a photo of an aedes aegypi mosquito
James Gathany / Flickr Creative Commons

Scientists investigating the Zika virus are asking people who have been exposed to mosquito-borne illnesses while visiting tropical regions to donate blood for research.

Travelers to parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and Central and South America may be eligible to participate.

headshot of Whitney Way Thore
Deborah Feingold

This is a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on June 27, 2016.

Whitney Way Thore knows how much she has weighed at every point in her life.

And for decades, deconstructing the size and shape of her body consumed much of her mental and emotional energy. She struggled with an eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and eventually was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  

Skin of a person after 3 days of measles infection.
Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An unvaccinated Wake County teen has survived a case of the measles. He contracted the potentially lethal disease after traveling in Europe, according to health officials.

Keri Caffrey / American Bicycling Education Association

North Carolina lawmakers recently approved changes to a traffic law intended to protect bike commuters.

House Bill 959 will soon require cyclists to add taillights or wear reflector vests at night. It also increases penalties for aggressive drivers.

UNC Health Care

UNC Health Care announced plans to add a new surgical tower on the Chapel Hill campus.

The addition will replace aging operating rooms that are a tight fit for modern surgical teams, according to Chief Operating Officer Brian Goldstein.

Photo from "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory"
Records of Samarcand Manor, Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Safety, Samarcand Manor School, Eagle Springs, North Carolina

More than 2,000 women and girls were forcibly sterilized in the first two decades of North Carolina's state eugenics program from 1929-1950.

While many governmental institutions and scientists propelled the movement forward, the new book "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory" (LSUP/2016) traces the story of one reformatory's unexpected role in the process.

A picture of a competition swimming pool.
ruurmo / flickr.com/photos/rufino_uribe/178577542/

Wake County is encouraging its 1,600 public pools to shock treat their water to kill a diarrhea-causing parasite.

Twenty cases of cryptosporidiosis have been reported to the county health department. The diarrhea disease is caused by a parasite that can spread if contaminated water gets in a person's mouth. Other symptoms can include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever and can last one to two weeks.

Screenshot of interactive infant mortality rate map of NC
NC Child

Check out this interactive map to explore where your county stands on infant mortality rate.

North Carolina’s infant mortality rate is one of the worst in the country—only eight states have worse rates.

Food Research & Action Center

North Carolina has more trouble putting food on the table than most other states, according to a nonprofit anti-hunger organization.

A report from the Food Research and Action Center shows 17 percent of North Carolinians face food insecurity, making the state the 13th worst in the country.

Image of tools in doctor's office
Morgan / Flickr/Creative Commons

Contrary to popular belief, statistics show that North Carolina does not have a doctor shortage problem; it has a doctor distribution problem.

Experts say the lack of funding for graduate medical education (GME) in rural areas is one reason that those communities have worse health outcomes.

Spending on high-price specialty drugs has risen dramatically in the past thirteen years, according to new research from UNC-Chapel Hill.

New Guide Helps Local Anglers Avoid Polluted Waterways

Jul 2, 2016
eatfishwisely.org

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are helping local fishermen identify which fish are most likely to be contaminated by chemical pollutants, and where it’s safer to eat what they catch.

The new website, Eat Fish, Choose Wisely, maps out waterways and fish species with lower levels of contamination, along with some that should be avoided entirely.

Dr. Douglas Miyazaki of Novant Health's new Pelvic Health Center in Winston-Salem
Patti Friend / Novant Health

Novant Health opened a comprehensive pelvic health clinic in Winston-Salem this week. It's one of only a few in the state that offers a wide range of treatment and conducts research on organ prolapse and incontinence. 

Frank Taylor / Carolina Public Press

A private company that owns mental health care facilities in western North Carolina is coming under fire for its treatment record and its insensitive corporation name: Nutz R Us.

One family tells the Carolina Public Press that it had little control over their son's placement in a Nutz R Us facility because a private guardianship company was making his treatment decisions. The CPP investigation found the state has little oversight of the industry.

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