Health

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report this week saying that the Department of Agriculture has "sidelined science" and "betrayed farmers.” The group is particularly concerned about antibiotics.

Teen birth rates have been going down for a while now but in one mountain west state -- Colorado --  they’ve gone down more than the rest of the nation. Could it be related to the national trend of kids having less sex or an attempt to make IUDs more accessible?

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A new report by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center shows that opioid abuse in the state is following the same rising trends as the rest of the nation, but isn’t seeing the skyrocketing rates of Appalachia and New England.

In Wyoming, recreational use of opioid medications is most common among young adults, according to research at the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. That’s why an addiction advocacy group is rolling out a new campaign to educate Wyoming’s youth about misinformation they might be getting about these drugs.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton

The Wyoming Department of Health has added two vaccines to the list of those required for children to attend school or daycare in the state. One of the two is a vaccine for rotavirus, which affects the stomach and intestines. According to State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist, the rotavirus vaccine can only be given to babies younger than eight months old.

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More teen suicide threats than average have been reported to the emergency room in Teton County. Normally, there’s only a couple a year, but recently that number rose to 16 in a four-month period.

Previously, the hospital didn’t have an ideal space to handle such cases. It required kids to be held under guard for 24 hours and doctors and nurses weren't equipped to offer therapy.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health recently rolled out a new mobile phone app intended to provide health tracking and management tools to families across Wyoming. The app’s features include height and weight trackers, as well as feeding and growth trackers for pregnant moms and newborns. By entering their zip code, residents can also access local resources. 

Dr. James Bush, Wyoming’s Medicaid director, said the app initially began as a project solely for pregnant women, but has since expanded, and is designed to work well for Wyomingites from all stages of life.

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Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the state after smoking, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that exists in nature.

"When uranium breaks down in the soil, radon is a by-product, and radon can get into your home through cracks or your plumbing, or any space that allows air to enter your home," said Integrated Cancer Services Program Outreach Coordinator Allie Bain.

Albany Community Health Clinic

Healthcare providers in Laramie say they’re seeing an increase in addiction. In response, the Albany Community Health Clinic -- which serves patients regardless of their ability to pay -- is adding mental health and substance abuse services to the comprehensive primary-care it offers. With a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the clinic is now able to hire additional mental health providers.

 

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Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said in his first 30 years in law enforcement he encountered heroin only twice, but now illicit drugs -- including meth and cocaine -- are something his department deals with all the time.

 

For those individuals struggling with addiction who end up in the Albany County Detention Center, the immediate shift to sobriety can bring on intense physical and emotional stress, according to O’Malley. That’s why he wants to start offering inmates acupuncture to relieve the side effects of withdrawal.

Wyoming Institute For Disabilities

The Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, or WIND, has begun work on several new initiatives after finalizing its latest 5-year strategic plan.

Canyon Hardesty, the director of community education and training at WIND, said there are several projects she is excited about, including their friendships and dating course. Through that program, individuals with disabilities receive training and mentorship on healthy relationships.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Researchers at the University of Washington are proposing better ways to study the link between health and exposure to the natural world.

A multi-disciplinary group of scientists analyzed existing research to come up with strategies to improve understanding of the subject. Pooja Tandon, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study, said it is a good bet that being in nature has a positive impact.

Wyoming Department of Health

Nearly 3,000 kids in Wyoming have access to a highly subsidized health insurance through a program called Kid Care CHIP operated by the Wyoming Department of Health. Those kids could lose that coverage as soon as April, if Congress does not re-authorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

 

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Flu numbers are rising in Wyoming, with the highest levels reported in the southwestern corner of the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health’s Kim Deti said people should keep common-sense measures in mind to help slow or prevent spreading the flu.

That includes frequently washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick, and using your sleeve or a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Flu season runs from October through May, so Deti said it’s likely not quite peak flu season.

Wyoming's outdated housing stock needs replacing, but resources to make that happen are limited. That's left most counties in the state in need of more low-income housing, according to a new Wyoming Business Council report

The mission of the Censible Nutrition Program is to get low-income families eating healthier food and this year they decided to grow that food from seed.

In Natrona and Bighorn Counties, the University of Wyoming extension program collaborated with local groups to create community gardens, getting kids and adults doing physical activity as they cultivated food.

Program Director Mindy Meuli said, they ended up giving away over 400 pounds of zucchini, potatoes, cantaloupe and other produce. She said there’s a real need for such foods in parts of Wyoming.  

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Flu season has arrived in Wyoming, and the state’s Department of Health is urging residents to get their flu shots.

Department spokeswoman Kim Deti said it is nearly impossible to predict the severity of the flu season ahead of time, but they can always predict that it is coming.

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Wyoming’s county commissioners recently attended a discussion on opioid addiction with a representative from Kentucky, the state with the fifth highest rate of opioid overdoses in the country. Such rates haven't hit Wyoming yet.

But Joe Markiewicz, a statewide coalition trainer for the University of Kentucky, says rural states like Kentucky and Wyoming are more prone to addiction because hospitals, care centers and government agencies are spread out, making it harder for them to act as a united front to stop it.

Courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A new study shows that more Wyoming teens are overweight. The National Survey of Children’s Health says that Wyoming young people have the 14th lowest obesity rate in the nation, but the obesity rate is still higher than it was ten years ago. 

The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Trust for America’s Health. 

Report spokesman Albert Lang said Wyoming children between the ages of ten and 17 have an obesity rate at 27.1 percent, an increase from over a decade ago. Lang added that they see a similar trend with other Wyomingites.      

Public Domain

As national confusion over the future of health care continues, an organization in Wyoming is pressing hospitals to be more transparent.

Twelve hospitals across the state participated in a survey by the Leapfrog Group, which works with the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health to evaluate providers in the state. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming is proposing to raise health insurance rates by 48 percent in the coming year. That would mainly impact the 28,000 Wyomingites who get their coverage via the Federal Health Insurance Exchange.  

Those off the exchange and who get group insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield could also see a substantial increase. Spokeswoman Wendy Curran explained that Blue Cross Blue Shield is nervous about proposed changes in the current health care law. She said they are particularly concerned about threats to remove cost shared reduction subsidies.

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The Environmental Health Trust is holding a lecture and public forum in Jackson Monday night to discuss the potential dangers of cell phone and wireless radiation.

Dr. Devra Davis is the founder of the Environmental Health Trust and a visiting professor of medicine at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She said France recently released the results of its own tests on cell phone radiation. 

More healthcare providers around Wyoming are expressing worry over the Senate’s healthcare bill released last week.

The Downtown Clinic in Laramie provides primary care and emergency dental services to people without any healthcare coverage.

Pete Gosar, the clinic’s executive director, said the bill may make it more difficult to provide coverage there. The clinic recently had to extend its operating hours, staying open two days a week instead of one, to accommodate all 700 patients.

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Prescription drug-related overdoses in Wyoming were five times higher in 2015 than in 2004, according to the Department of Health. That is one of the reasons that public health workers around the state are working to collect or deactivate medications.

Another reason is that drugs can contaminate the environment if they are flushed down the toilet or thrown away.

Planned Parenthood

Wyoming’s one and only Planned Parenthood branch in Casper will be closing its doors in July. The health center is among five others in the Rocky Mountain region that will be shutting down this summer. 

The decision to close the clinic was not entirely a financial one. That’s according to Adrienne Mansanares, a leader of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood which oversees the Casper branch.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming U.S. Representative Liz Cheney was among those who voted to support the Republican overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. Cheney says the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives will help Wyomingites purchase affordable care.  

American Cancer Society

The Wyoming Primary Care Annual Conference takes place in Casper May 3 - 5, and will bring together health care providers from around the state. Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society Dr. Richard Wender will be speaking at the conference. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about the state’s cancer risks and what the American Cancer Society is doing to address them.

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The 8th annual Laramie Local Food Gathering will offer 12 workshops on “modern homesteading.” Topics range from how to raise small animals for meat and fiber to composting and soil improvement tips, and even one workshop just for kids on edible insects.

Chris Nicholson is director of the Water Resources Data System at the University of Wyoming. He’ll be speaking at the event on how climate change could affect gardening and ranching in southeast Wyoming.

Craig A. Miller

Governor Matt Mead is hosting the Second Annual Symposium on Suicide Prevention on May 10 in Cheyenne at the Little America Hotel. The event will present a variety of perspectives, from lived experience to prevention to treatment, and it’ll focus on solutions to an issue that touches the lives of far too many in Wyoming.

SageWest Health Care

Patients of SageWest Health Care in Lander who had surgery between December 2013 and October 2016 could have been exposed to non-sterile surgical equipment.

The Department of Health investigated the hospital four different times over the past three years, after surgeons reported visibly contaminated surgical instruments that were supposed to be sterile.

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