Health

For more than 20 years, studying guns and health has been a challenge for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Entangled in the messy world of gun politics, researchers have struggled to study violent deaths. But a nationwide program that recently expanded to all 50 states is changing that.

Photo of Nora McInerny with her hand up over one eye, with a hand-drawn crying eye on the back of her hand.
Courtesy of Nora McInerny

When something bad happens people often hear the same advice: “everything happens for a reason” or “time heals all wounds.” But Nora McInerny says that advice is useless and that grief is a chronic condition that you can’t just “get over.” She should know.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Skepticism grew on Wednesday that a massive change in administering North Carolina Medicaid's program will start as scheduled early next year as a state budget stalemate continues and doctors and hospitals worry whether details are ready.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
N.C. Attorney General's Office / Twitter

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has backed a proposed $48 billion settlement with five companies over the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Portrait photo of Wind and her daughter.
Denise Bardsley Photography

Susan Wind’s daughter was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer at 16 years old. Soon after the family shared the news, Wind started hearing from her neighbors and other community members about their own families’ cancer battles.

Graphic of a bed.
WikiHow

A solid eight hours can be hard to come by in our non-stop, tech-saturated world. But the modern science of sleep shows that shut-eye is just as critical as diet and exercise in shaping both mental and physical health.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria at a very high magnification of 90,000X.
CDC/ Dr. Francis Chandler

North Carolina health officials say a third person has died from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease linked to a hot tub display at a fair.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria at a very high magnification of 90,000X.
CDC/Dr. Francis Chandler

North Carolina health officials have confirmed a second death from Legionnaires' disease linked to a hot tub display at a fair.

10/3 Update:  4 p.m.

State Health officials have released preliminary findings of their investigation into the source of the Legionnaires' outbreak at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, September 6-15. 128 cases of the severe lung infection have now been confirmed. One person has died. State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore told reporters during a phone conference that fairgoers who were diagnosed were much more likely to report being in the Davis Event Center - an indoor facility.

"The second thing that has come out of the data so far is that people who were diagnosed were much more likely to be walking by hot tub displays when in the Davis Event Center, " says Dr. Moore, "Then a third finding we think is relevant is that people who developed Legionnaires disease attended fair in latter half of fair compared to people who didn’t get sick."

Courtesy of Dr. Chris Kelly

When did you last look up your symptoms online? Medical tomes and doctors visits were once necessary for diagnosis; now the internet makes medical knowledge — both amateur and professional — available to the masses.

People playing a game at the state fair
Brianna Ladd / WUNC

A North Carolina fair is banning the use of hand-held mist fans to guard against an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease like the one that happened at another fair last month.

Bacteria
CDC/ Dr. Francis Chandler

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services continues to investigate an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease believed to be contracted at the Mountain State Fair held in Fletcher, North Carolina last month.

BCBS President and CEO Dr. Patrick Conway
Courtesy of BCBSNC

Updated Sept. 26 at 9:23 a.m.

The chief executive officer of Blue Cross North Carolina has resigned amid pressure from the state's top insurance regulator after the executive's DWI charge.

Illustration of someone surrounded by life stressors.
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

The World Health Organization now officially lists workplace burnout as an occupational syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases manual.

Ballen and his son.
Courtesy of Dwayne Ballen

Dwayne Ballen spent the early years of his childrens’ lives jetting between the East and West Coasts. He worked as a sportscaster in Los Angeles, but his family lived in the Triangle. When his eldest son Julian was diagnosed with autism, everything changed.

A doctor holding a stethoscope.
Pxhere

North Carolina did not expand the number of adults eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but the state is pursuing other avenues of healthcare reform. The state Department of Health and Human Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina have teamed up to work on a program to shift how healthcare is paid for.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services headquarters at Dorothea Dix in Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A portion of North Carolina's Medicaid population won't shift to managed care coverage this fall due to the extended state budget stalemate, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday.

One of the vape juice's packaging looks like a juice box, others have unicorns.
Courtesy of the North Carolina Attorney General's Office

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced lawsuits against eight electronic cigarette companies earlier this week. He alleges that their marketing practices and flavor selection specifically target kids and teens.

a doctor
Hamza Butt / flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/VQGLoP

North Carolina's Democratic governor said Sunday that a bipartisan health insurance measure will become law without his signature.

Wikimedia

Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, wrote “all diseases begin in the gut.” He continued the line with the famous advice: “let medicine be thy food and food thy medicine.” New research confirms Hippocrates’ thinking, showing the human gut does much more than just process food.

A tan hand holding an IUD.
Sarah Mirk / Creative Commons

Planned Parenthood pulled out of the Title X program Monday after the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that clinics receiving Title X funding may not refer patients to abortion providers. After months of threats, Planned Parenthood refused to abide by the ruling and opted to give up federal money in favor of maintaining abortion services.  In North Carolina, Planned Parenthood affiliates were stripped of federal funding in May.

Pickett measures her patient's height.
Courtesy of UNC Greensboro

When Stephanie Pickett was a nurse at Duke University Medical Center, more than 90% of the patients she saw with kidney failure were black. This shocking racial health disparity both bewildered her and inspired her to take action.

A picture of a man using an e-cigarette.
www.vaping360.com / Vaping3650/Flickr

State health officials are investigating a series of hospitalizations possibly related to vaping. Three patients in North Carolina have been treated for a severe lung illness since July.

Volunteers in blue vests escort women into a clinic in the face of protestors.
Lindsay Beyerstein & Martyna Starosta / ReWire.News

In their budget, Republican state lawmakers proposed $2.6 million in funding for crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion organizations. This funding would quadruple the amount given to one particular nonprofit, despite a report from the state Department of Health and Human Services that does not recommend expanding the program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a campaign to educate parents about vaccinations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fresh-faced Kindergartners entering school this year will almost certainly be surrounded by a higher percentage of peers whose parents have actively avoided obtaining their vaccinations.

Across the state, numbers of unvaccinated children have been creeping up. While numbers for the 2019-20 school year won't be available for months, looking at data for the past eight years suggests the trend is not likely to reverse.

Image of hydrocodone pills.
USDA

The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the past few decades. A newly-released Drug Enforcement Administration database provides insight into how and why this might be happening. The database tracks 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills distributed from 2006 through 2012, and new analysis from The Washington Post draws connections between the number of pills shipped to a particular area and opioid overdose deaths.

Kim Pollard

My mom was at home when the gunfire started.

"It was so hard," my mom recalls. "It was so hard as a mom to be strong because all I wanted to do was scream."

Image of Ralph Snyderman with the Dalai Lama.
Courtesy of Ralph Snyderman

Ralph Snyderman is known as “The Father of Personalized Medicine.” He used to oversee the selection of medical students at Duke University in his role as chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and Dean of the Duke School of Medicine. He focused on admitting students who showed a clear desire for empathy and to serve the needs of others.

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell relented in his fight with the state's major hospitals to lower costs and increase transparency.

The sign of the Ocracoke Health Center.
Erin O'Neal

Ocracoke Health Center CEO Cheryl Ballance estimates that anywhere from 8,000-10,000 people visit Ocracoke Island on any given summer weekend. Many visitors catch a ferry back to Cape Hatteras after less than a day, but hundreds of vacation rentals and hotel rooms are consistently filled from late spring to early fall. During those months, the staff of the tiny clinic are stretched to their limits.

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