Wallis Watkins is a Baton Rouge native. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Louisiana State University in 2013. Soon after, she joined WRKF as an intern and is now reporting on politics for Capitol Access and science and health for Louisiana's Lab.
Ten years ago, Louisiana’s Public Health lab – where the state Dept. of Health and Hospitals tests for things like disease outbreaks and water safety – was in downtown New Orleans. It was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and had been operating out of temporary facilities until a new lab opened just recently in Baton Rouge.
When someone having a mental health crisis is picked up by Baton Rouge Police, they often end up inside parish prison. Sources at Capitol Area Human Services estimate between 30 and 50 percent of inmates there are suffering with a mental illness.
After the nearby charity hospital, Earl K. Long, was shut down, Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Emergency Room took on more patients. And, in 2013, LSU Health’s Urgent Care Clinic in North Baton Rouge opened. But, the sign on the urgent care clinic’s door reads, “NO EMERGENCY ROOM.”
The MRI machine in Dr. Owen Carmichael's lab blares as it scans a subject's brain. Carmichael, Director of Biomedical Imaging at Pennington Research Center, studies those scans trying to understand how the brain ages.
Carmichael explains that "what you'll see on the MRI scan is the amount of brain tissue. And all of that brain tissue is part of that electrical circuitry that makes it possible for you to think." As we age, our brains tend to shrink. And as that tissue goes away, the harder it becomes to think.
He describes the young brain as a grape that's just been pulled from the vine, while "the elderly brain looks more like a raisin, in that it's deflated and smaller in size. And the person with Alzheimer's, that 'looking like a grape' goes even further, it's extremely shriveled up."
For the first time, Baton Rouge General Medical Center is hosting insurance navigators, trained to offer assistance to anyone who wants to buy health care coverage through the federal marketplace, which is now in its second year.
When things are working normally, your pancreas produces insulin and releases it to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Pancreatic beta cells are the only cells in the body that make insulin, but in Type 1 diabetes, those beta cells are damaged and destroyed by the immune system. That’s been understood for decades now, but we didn’t understand why the immune system attacks them. That’s the question Dr. Jason Collier, Director of Islet Biology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is answering.
To keep a better eye on head injuries in the past, the LSU football team has had concussion detectors installed in players’ helmets. This season, LSU became the first team in the NCAA to try high-tech mouth guards to measure hits.