Diagnosing Health Care: A North Carolina Voices Series

Credit WUNC

North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care aired Thursday October 4th through Tuesday October 16th, 2007 on Morning Edition, The State of Things, and The Story.  The series explored the connections between health, and health care, in North Carolina.

North Carolina is not healthy. The state is ranked 36th in the nation in terms of health.  One in four North Carolinians is obese, up from 13 percent in 1990, making obesity not just a personal health concern, but a public health epidemic.  Diabetes is on the rise, particularly in rural areas

There are wide disparities in lifespan: A white girl born in North Carolina can expect to live until she is nearly 80 years old, but a black boy, statistically, will only make it to 68 - and he is likely to be sick for 15 years of his life.   More than 16 percent of North Carolinians have no health insurance,  and those who do not have insurance tend to be sicker than those who do.  In addition to the physical and emotional toll, unhealthy lifestyles are costing North Carolina an estimated $24 billion a year.

Why is North Carolina so unhealthy?  What is being done about it? And what are the links between health, and the health care system?

  • What does it mean to be healthy?
  • Who is healthy, who is unhealthy, and why?  
  • What social and environmental factors affect health status, and what role does access to health care play in making people healthy?
  • Does access to health care matter more for some groups of people than others? 
  • Are the people who need health care most getting the help they need?  And does the current health care system actually promote good health?  Why, or why not?

What Do You Think?
You can send an email to ncvoices@wunc.org or leave a comment about the series at 1-877-3VOICES (1-877-386-4237).  Please tell us your name and how to pronounce it, in case we read your comments on the air. And please provide a daytime phone number so we can call you back if we have questions.

Support for "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care" comes from Dominion, Duke University Health System, GlaxoSmithKline, the North Carolina Humanities Council, the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, the Julian Price Family Foundation, the John Rex Endowment and "The Healthy Weight Initiative," and UNC Health Care.  Support also comes from the listeners of North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC.

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Health
10:20 am
Tue October 16, 2007

NC Voices: Health Of Elders

Rose Hoban takes a look at whether the health care system is ready for the coming flood of frail seniors.

People are living longer now than ever before in human history. By the year 2030, more than one-in-five people in the United States will be over the age of 65. The dream is to stay healthy into a ripe old age and die peacefully in your sleep. But the reality is likely to be quite different. Many people go through a long physical and mental decline before they die. As we wrap up our series, "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care," Rose Hoban takes a look at whether the health care system is ready for the coming flood of frail seniors.

Health
10:18 am
Tue October 16, 2007

NC Voices: Diabetes Part 5

Emily Hanford reports for 'North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care.'

As part of our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care" we’ve been reporting on the remarkable rise of Type 2 diabetes. That rise is due mostly to obesity; Emily Hanford traveled to two schools in eastern North Carolina to try to find out why it's such a problem -- and what's being done about it.

Health
10:57 am
Mon October 15, 2007

NC Voices: Gene Testing

Susan Davis considers what people learn from genetic testing and if it’s always helpful.

Since experts mapped the human genome, the continuous flow of new information has affected decisions people are making about their health. As part of our series, "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care," producer Susan Davis considers what people learn from genetic testing and if it’s always helpful. When Susan’s father died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1992 experts were not sure if there was a genetic link to the disease. But now they’re sure. And there’s a test she could take to find out if she has it.

Health
10:54 am
Mon October 15, 2007

NC Voices: Diabetes Part 4

Emily Hanford reports for our series 'North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care.'

Type-2 diabetes may be the plague of this century. Just 20 years ago, about 30 million people in the world had the disease. Today, it’s more than five times that many. It’s a frightening prospect for health, and the health care system. Here in North Carolina, diabetes is already a direct or contributing cause in one out of every five hospitalizations. That’s billions of dollars of every year. Experts say health care providers need more effective ways to treat diabetics so they don’t end up in the hospital. A group of clinics in eastern North Carolina is trying to do it with a new model for treating chronic disease.

Health
2:13 pm
Fri October 12, 2007

NC Voices: Diabetes Part 3

Emily Hanford reports for our series 'North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care.'

This week we're focusing on health care and the rise of diabetes in northeastern North Carolina. Yesterday we met Miranda Cofield, a 50 year old woman who recently lost her health insurance. She's African American, and she's poor. These factors put her at high risk of developing complications from diabetes. Statistically, Sterling Hamilton does not face the same risks.

Health
9:39 am
Thu October 11, 2007

NC Voices: Greener Hospitals

Katy Barron has more for our series `North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care.`

This week we’re examining the health care system and asking whether it actually promotes good health. Today, we look at health care facilities themselves. From toxic chemicals and medical waste, to round-the-clock energy and water use, the way hospitals are built and maintained can have serious effects on the patients inside and on the environment beyond. So as the population ages and hospital construction booms, the health care industry is examining the central creed of medicine "to do no harm" and applying it the environment too.

Health
9:36 am
Thu October 11, 2007

NC Voices: Diabetes Part 2

Emily Hanford reports for our series 'North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Healthcare.'

Today our look at diabetes in eastern North Carolina continues.

"Good morning, how ya doin? My name is Miranda Cofield. I live in Rich Square, NC and I am a 50 year-old patient with diabetes, type 2."

"I’m Sterling Hamilton, I live here in Conway, I’m a retired school teacher and administrator and I found out I had diabetes, Type 2, in 2000."

Sterling Hamilton and Miranda Cofield are both determined to beat their diabetes. But their experience with the disease has been very different. He gets a comfortable retirement income; she works part time as a school tutor. He has health insurance; she does not And he is white; she is black. These distinctions are significant when it comes to diabetes, and health. Emily Hanford reports for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Healthcare." She begins with Miranda Cofield.

Health
9:50 am
Wed October 10, 2007

NC Voices: Health Disparities

Laura Leslie reports for North Carolina Voices.

If you’re a white North Carolinian, you’re statistically likely to be born stronger, live healthier, and die later than your African American or Latino counterpart. You’re also not as likely to suffer from a chronic disease, and if you do, you’re less likely to die of it. Some say that’s because of racial bias within the health care system. But others say the problem’s much bigger than that – and health care alone can’t solve it. Laura Leslie reports for North Carolina Voices.

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Health
9:50 am
Wed October 10, 2007

NC Voices: Diabetes Part 1

Emily Hanford prepared this report on diabetes.

Today, as part of "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care" we begin a series of reports looking at the rise of diabetes and its impact on the state. Our stories focus on northeastern North Carolina where diabetes is taking a particularly harsh toll. We begin in Northampton County, east of Interstate 95 near the Virginia border. Northampton is one of the poorest counties in the state. If you live here, you are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes than if you live in an urban area and you’re more likely to die from it. Emily Hanford prepared this report.

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Health
11:46 am
Tue October 9, 2007

NC Voices: Traditions Converge

Melinda Penkava has this story for our series 'North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care.'

Standard-issue Western health care isn’t delivering what some people want or need. They're looking for more than just another pill or procedure and piecing together medical care from several different traditions. Or, they’re bringing traditions with them from other countries. Melinda Penkava has this story for our series "North Carolina Voices: Diagnosing Health Care."

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