health care

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Medical professionals need to be ready to treat patients of all sizes, shapes, and backgrounds.  But there appears to be a gap in their ability to treat LGBTQ people. 

Holly Hinson studies this at Oregon Health & Science University, OHSU.  Dr. Hinson points out that gender identification and sexual orientation can have a bearing on medical care. 

Example: hormone treatments can interact poorly with anti-seizure medication.  These and other findings are published in the journal Neurology. 

Skitterphoto/Pixabay

If you need specialized health care and you live in a rural area, there's a good chance you've got a long drive ahead of you.  Rural areas generally do not have the health amenities of larger cities. 

The situation is about to get some attention in our region: OHSU in Portland and the University of California-Davis are teaming up.  A program called COMPADRE, short for California Oregon Medical Partnership to Address Disparities in Rural Education and Health, got a major grant from the American Medical Association to boost health care quality and physician training. 

Doctors-to-be will serve residencies in rural areas between Sacramento and Portland. 

TeroVesalainen/Pixabay

Public health agencies work to solve our biggest health issues.  And they often take on private partners to do it. 

Case in point: the research to find cures for cancers.  There's a lot of public money in it, but the therapies will likely be owned by private entities. 

Health ethicist Jonathan Marks lays out his concerns in the book The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, and Public Health

sasint/Pixabay

Babies are sometimes born with natural variations in genitalia, or with traits that do not align with one sex.  For most parents, the response has been to assign gender to an intersex baby through surgery, very early in life. 

That practice would stop in California if a bill in the state Senate becomes law.  Senate Bill 201 would ban cosmetic surgery on intersex babies until they grow up enough to make their own decisions. 

InterACT Advocates for Intersex Youth pushed for the bill's introduction. 

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53574398

The quality of health care, and health itself, is different between gay and straight populations in California.  And the Center for Health Policy Research at UCLA is trying to figure out why. 

People in the LGBT community often have health insurance, but don't appear to seek out health care as much as straight people.  Surveys indicate discrimination is among the reasons. 

The health policy center recently put out a brief on the situation. 

Wikimedia/Public Domain

California continues to pass laws--like the recent net neutrality bill--that challenge the rest of the nation to keep up.  With a huge chunk of the country's population, the state is in a position to lead. 

So it could be highly influential in healthcare legislation.  Should the state stick with the battered Affordable Care Act, or could it set up a single-payer system of its own? 

These are questions Richard Scheffler mulls; he is a healthcare economist at the University of California-Berkeley. 

skylakes.org

Rural Oregonians who need specialized health treatments can't always get to Portland.  So Portland, in a sense, is coming to them. 

An ongoing relationship between Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls will create the Sky Lakes Collaborative Health Center. 

Construction started recently, with completion planned for next year. 

NIH/Public Domain

There is a race gap in many things in America, health care among them.  Health outcomes are just generally better for people with white skin. 

But Oregon's ongoing work in expanding Medicaid through the Oregon Health Plan may be closing that gap. 

Recent research shows an improvement in health for members of minority groups, since Oregon began using CCOs--coordinated care organizations--to deliver OHP services.  The study comes from OHSU in Portland. 

Roughly a third of the people who work as nurses in Oregon are approaching retirement age.  So in a few more years, a shortage could result... with perhaps 6,000 nursing positions unfilled by 2025. 

These are figures the Oregon Nurses Association provides and wants to avoid. 

ONA is working on several fronts to address the issue, including providing scholarships and other educational incentives to get more people to train for nursing jobs.  ONA reps walks us through the issues and possible solutions. 

Tuality Healthcare/Jeff Schilling

Oregon's budget is tight enough that keeping all the programs required a new revenue source.  So the legislature narrowly passed a tax on health insurance premiums last summer. 

And it surprised no one when a small group of legislators organized a petition drive to force the measure to a public vote. 

Ballots for Measure 101 will go out the first week of the new year for the January 23rd election, and campaigns are already organized, pro and con.  Yes for Healthcare chose a name that makes its position clear. 

National Institute of Health

Will health care ever be out of the news?  Perhaps someday.  But today is not that day. 

With talk of "repeal and replace" still fresh in Washington and new calls for single-payer national health insurance (from Bernie Sanders et al), the topic is still quite lively. 

The Rogue Valley chapter of the League of Women Voters keeps the discussion going with a free public discussion of universal coverage, Thursday (November 9) in Medford. 

U.S. Navy/Public Domain

It's a familiar story in American health care: people getting their primary medical care from a hospital emergency room instead of a primary care physician. 

The air and ground ambulance service Mercy Flights teamed up with Jackson Care Connect to try a new approach in Jackson County. 

And the pairing got a grant to test the theory.  It worked: people who got regular visits from paramedics in non-emergency situations cut their ER visits in half.  More than half, actually (56%). 

Carol M. Highsmith, https://cdn.loc.gov/master/pnp/highsm/30600/30668a.tifOriginal url: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.30668, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/i

It's an issue now and will become a bigger issue in the future: people need care from other people when they are very old and very young. 

And as the average age in America slides up, more care workers will be needed. 

Family Forward Oregon joined forces with SEIU, the service workers union, to create a project called Oregon CareWorks, examining issues with the care economy--paid and unpaid--in Oregon. 

An initial report finds care workers largely overworked and underpaid.  The report makes the case for more public money to be devoted to caregiving. 

Why People Go To Planned Parenthood

Feb 9, 2017
Rhoda Baer for National Cancer Institute, ID 7496.

What does Planned Parenthood mean to you? We put that question to thousands of people in Southern Oregon and Northern California this week through a social media survey.

Their answers got personal, even as the question is steeped in politics. Last week Republicans in Congress renewed efforts to zero out federal support for the organization.

Planned Parenthood provides health services to people with minimal or no health insurance.

We hear from those who've been inside a PP clinic about why they went, and the care they received.

Shannon Rio is a Nurse Practitioner who provides reproductive health care, and abortions, to women in the Rogue Valley. She joins us with Riah Sadafy and Kendall Bartley from the Women's Resource Center at Southern Oregon University. 

VENTSday: Health Care, The Ballot, And You

Sep 13, 2016

California's hospital fee program and drug prices are both items up for votes on the November ballot. 

We start there and broaden out a discussion of health care on this week's VENTSday... seeking your own story about accessing health care or grading its quality. 

VENTSday removes the guests and puts listener comments front and center on The Exchange. Once a week, it's all about you... we plop a topic on the table, post a survey on our Facebook page, and open the phone lines and email box for live comments.

Got an observation or opinion? Share it with the State of Jefferson on VENTSday. Join by phone at 800-838-3760, email JX@jeffnet.org, or take the survey online. You can ALSO record a phone message in advance, at 541-552-6331.

Health Care In America: "Fix It"

May 26, 2016
NIH/Public Domain

The Affordable Care Act--"Obamacare"--got health insurance for millions more people, but it is far from perfect. 

And that opinion is common even outside the Republicans in Congress who keep voting to kill the program. 

Richard Master got tired of constantly paying higher health insurance premiums for employees of the company he runs, so he went to look for an answer.  What he found ended up a documentary film called "Fix It: Healthcare At The Tipping Point."  Its essence: single-payer health insurance is the way ahead, "Medicare for all." 

Hospital Partnership Forms In Rural Oregon

Apr 25, 2016
skylakes.org

A big city hospital and a small town version will team up to train doctors in Oregon. 

Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland and Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath falls plan a joint venture on the Sky Lakes Campus. 

It will strengthen health care in the Klamath Basin and skills training for physicians planning to go into family practice. 

The Car Accident That Saved A Life

Apr 22, 2016
Penguin Random House

Emily Wing Smith nearly died in a car accident when she was twelve years old. 

And that turned out to be a good thing; because her post-accident health care discovered a brain tumor, a big one.  The presence of the tumor explained a lot of anomalies in her health and behavior before the accident. 

The story of the tumor and its effects and treatment is told in Smith's memoir All Better Now

Bringing Doctors To Rural Areas

Mar 4, 2016
U.S. Army/Public Domain

You can imagine why lots of doctors like to work in urban areas... there are lots of people there, and building a lucrative practice would be fairly easy. 

There's a lot less money to be made in rural areas, and that's why the federal government provides the National Health Service Corps

NHSC brings medical professionals to "underserved" communities in exchange for some commitments. 

Dr. Kelvin Vu at the Open Door Clinics in Humboldt County arrived through NHSC, and is happy sticking around. 

Ambulances From The Sky (And Ground)

Mar 4, 2016
Southern Oregon Historical Society

Another medical drawback of living in a mostly rural area is the time it takes to get critical care. 

The best hospital can be a couple of hours away by car.  And that situation explains how Mercy Flights came to be. 

The country's first private non-profit air ambulance service started in Medford in 1949, and continues today. 

It's more than surviving, it's thriving, too, as Mercy Flights added local ground ambulance service, too. 

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