Health

Updates on healthcare, nutrition, and medical research in Louisiana.

The closure of Earl K. Long hospital last year with the privatization of Louisiana’s charity hospital system sent a wave of uninsured patients to Baton Rouge General.

Under the strain of their care, the hospital had decided to close its emergency room. But Baton Rouge General’s ER was rescued at the last-minute Wednesday.

Don Gregory, health policy advisor for the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, explains whether that deserves a sigh of relief. 


Baton Rouge General's mid-city emergency room at night.
Sue Lincoln

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has found funds to allow Baton Rouge General Hospital to keep its emergency room open after an imminent threat of closure.

Several local media outlets reported Wednesday morning that the hospital administration had notified staff that the ER would close Nov. 1.

DHH preempted any official closure announcement with a last-minute deal, providing the hospital $18 million in state and federal money to care for the uninsured. Hospital President Mark Slyter called the deal a “hail Mary pass”.

Many parents have pushed for a later start to the school day for teenagers, with limited success. But parents just got a boost from the nation's pediatricians, who say that making middle and high schoolers start classes before 8:30 a.m. threatens children's' health, safety and academic performance.

While your Facebook friends douse themselves with buckets of ice-cold water to raise money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an international team of scientists said they'd taken a small step toward drowning out the deadly disease.

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute and the Mayo Clinic developed a new drug that combats molecular contributors to ALS, which currently afflicts more than 30,000 Americans.

Vicki Hornbuckle used to play the piano at her church. But that was before her liver started failing.

"I had to give it up because I couldn't keep up," says Hornbuckle, 54, of Snellville, Georgia. "I didn't have the energy to do three services on Sunday. You're just too tired to deal with anything. And so, it's not a life that you want to live."

But Hornbuckle hasn't given up. She's fighting to stay alive long enough to get a liver transplant.

The first time Jeremy Wurzburg left a heroin treatment program, he planned to begin Narcotics Anonymous and do all the right things to stay off drugs. But one week later, the skinny, pale young man was hanging out with a guy who was also in early recovery, experiencing what Wurzburg, now 21, has come to realize is a typical turning point for recovering addicts: two guys sitting casually in a car, poised to use drugs again.

Even if you're trying, it's tough to keep score of what's happening with various lawsuits challenging some state abortion laws.

States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain.

About two dozen states enacted 70 such measures in 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Those laws range from imposing waiting periods to requiring ultrasounds to limiting the use of the "abortion pill" mifepristone, or RU486.

Carmen Smith remembers the day about a year ago when she gained Medicaid coverage.

"It was like Christmas Day, it was like getting a gift from Santa Claus!" she says. "People don't realize how important and how special it is to have insurance to be able to go see a doctor on a regular basis when you have an illness like mine."

Smith, 44, has Type 2 diabetes. Before qualifying for Medicaid coverage, she was what policy experts call a "frequent flier." She had used the emergency room at MetroHealth, the public hospital in Cleveland, five times in one year.

We're constantly hearing messages that we're eating too much and not moving around enough. Now researchers suggest that we're actually not eating more than we did 20 years ago, it's that we're much less active. And that includes not just middle-aged workers tied to their desks, but also young men and women who spend their days sitting in front of their laptops.

Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

Jul 30, 2014

To ward off big memory problems in your 70s and beyond you may want to cork the bottle more often now.

In a study of 6,500 people published this week, adults with a midlife history of drinking problems were more than twice as likely as those without alcohol problems to suffer severe memory impairment decades later.

Pages