Health

United States Department of Agriculture

Recent data shows that childhood obesity rates among low-income families have decreased in Wyoming, down from nearly 11.8 percent in 2010 to 9.9 percent in 2014. 

healthcare.gov

On November 1, people will be able to sign up for this year’s round of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming’s rates are expected to increase by roughly seven percent, and while the increase will be less than some other states, Wyoming’s insurance prices are typically among the highest in the country.

Public Domain

Attitudes toward marijuana use appear to be slightly changing in Wyoming. The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s election year survey revealed an increase in support for legalizing marijuana for both personal and medical use.

However, WYSAC researcher Brian Harnisch said residents view each of those issues differently.

“A majority of Wyoming residents still oppose the recreational use of marijuana,” said Harnish. “While at the same time we have sort of an overwhelming majority of Wyoming residents that support the legalization for medical purposes.”

Wyoming Center On Aging

An upcoming Laramie workshop will work to empower people dealing with chronic disease. The Wyoming Center on Aging (WyCOA) at the University of Wyoming adopted Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and called the program “Healthy U.”

Wyoming will be the fiftieth state to offer the program.

Wyoming has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, but last week, the state joined the National Crisis Text Line to make it easier for people at risk of suicide to reach out for help. 

People can text "WYO" to 741-741 and hear back from a crisis counselor within five minutes. The counselors can help them talk through their problems, and then help them find services in their communities. 

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Wyoming NORML and Wyoming Purple Cross, medical marijuana advocate groups in the state, are hosting a public meeting to discuss the Peggy A. Kelly Wyoming Cannabis Act. Right now, the groups are working to get enough signatures to put the issue on the 2017 ballot. This would allow voters to decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report reveals 29 percent of adults in Wyoming are obese, which puts Wyoming in 30th place nationwide.

The report was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. Spokesman Don Schwarz says Wyoming’s numbers have remained stable in the last few years. But when you look at the long term trends, the outlook is more problematic. In the mid-90s only 15 percent of Wyoming adults were overweight. Since then, obesity rates have doubled.

pixabay

A new program led by the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy will study how Type 2 diabetes patients around the state manage their disease.

As part of the Integrated Pharmacist Program, pharmacists take an online training on motivational interviewing. That way, when patients come into the pharmacy for diabetes or hypertension medication they can ask them questions about how they can focus their goals to better manage their condition.

American Cancer Society

According to a report by the American Cancer Society’s Action Network, Wyoming could do much more to reduce cancer rates. Each year, the report evaluates ten different policy areas that deal with prevention and quality of treatment in each state. Out of those ten areas, Wyoming only did well in two—oral chemotherapy fairness and funding for the state tobacco prevention program.

Beth.herlin via Wikipedia Commons

A Campbell County woman caught the Zika virus while traveling outside the country, and after her return started showing symptoms like fever, rash and joint paint. Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says Wyoming was one of the last states to report a case.

The virus spreads through a certain type of mosquito, but Deti says those mosquitos cannot survive in Wyoming.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Title 25 program is $13 million dollars over budget and a group of legislators and others were told this week that reforms and policy changes are needed to slow down that spending. 

Title 25 covers court ordered hospitalizations for mental health and substance abuse patients. The state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to house those who need services, so the state has to pay private providers for that care. Natrona, Fremont, and Sweetwater County are driving the costs.  

Conniemod, Wikipedia Creative Commons

Wyoming Department of Health officials say Wyoming’s relatively high elevation could put people here more at risk for skin cancer.

“The thought process may be something closer to ‘Oh, I’m just going to go for a 30-minute run,’”said Morgan Powell with Wyoming Integrated Cancer Services. “But what they don’t realize is that the sun can damage our skin in as little as 15 minutes at our altitude.”

One22

Three non-profits that serve Teton County's lowest income residents and Latino community are merging into a single entity called One22. The Community Resource Center serves low-income residents who find themselves in crisis often due to housing or medical challenges. The center is merging with the Latino Resource Center and El Puente. 

The new group's Executive Director Mary Erickson says the merger will build better relationships with clients.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Due to declining revenues the Wyoming Department of Health has been told to cut $90 million from its budget, that’s a nine percent reduction, the largest cut faced by any state agency. It will impact the two year budget that begins July first.

Director Tom Forslund said the loss of state funds also means the Department will lose an additional $43 million in federal matching money. Had the legislature voted to expand Medicaid it would have softened the blow, especially since the Department could shift some money from its budget to pay upfront costs. 

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

Wyoming’s current economic decline is beginning to effect the financial wellness of hospitals across the state. Earlier this week, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper announced they would cut 58 positions in order to balance their budget.

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

The Wyoming Medical Center in Casper has cut 58 positions to meet budget reductions due to a downturn in the local economy. The hospital says they also don’t plan to fill 57 vacancies.

Medical Center CEO Vicki Diamond said the reductions will save the organization over $7 million dollars, but cuts will not harm medical services. For example, no nurses were reduced. 

Chief Financial Officer Yvonne Wiggington said fewer people have insurance and that has led to a rise in charity care and bad debt.

The Fifth Vital Sign

The Fifth Vital Sign, a traveling reproductive healthcare team, will be speaking on the University of Wyoming’s campus Wednesday night.

Wyoming Medical Center

This February, the email accounts of two Wyoming Medical Center employees were compromised in a phishing scam. A phishing scam is an email that looks like it came from a credible source, and tricks the recipient into providing passwords and usernames in an attempt to access sensitive information. The scam won't work if the recipient ignores the email, and doesn't open any links.

When the two Wyoming Medical Center employees opened the email in a phishing scam, they potentially compromised the information of nearly 3,200 patients.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health has received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help expand treatment for prescription drug and heroin abuse in the state. The administration has flagged Wyoming as an at-risk state due to recent increases in heroin and other opioid use among the state's residents.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A new report, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Wyoming's urban counties are far healthier than its rural ones. The annual report shows that people in Teton County are Wyoming's healthiest while its least healthy are in Fremont County. The report ranks health by rates of premature death.

Flickr user USACE Europe District / Flickr - Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Health has reported an increase in flu activity, and is encouraging residents to take steps to avoid spreading the virus or becoming ill.

Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, says that last year’s season was especially severe with 29 influenza-related deaths reported in Wyoming. She also says that it is not too late to get the vaccine, since the timing of peak flu activity can vary from season to season.

William Brawley via Flickr Creative Commons

Teton County has seen a big uptick recently in cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Health officials have confirmed eight cases in the county this year, which represents one third of those in Wyoming.

Whooping cough is a bacterial disease that’s easily transmitted from person to person. Teton County Public Health Officer Travis Riddell says it’s hard to diagnose and especially dangerous for infants.

User TesaPhotography / pixabay

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and Wyoming’s percentage of adults with diabetes continues to cause concern.

Joe Grandpre  is the Chronic Diseases Epidemiologist at the Wyoming Department of Health. Grandpre says higher rates of diabetes in Wyoming can be attributed to the state’s rising rates of obesity, which is the leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes. He says he is also seeing more people being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at younger ages, and that will cost patients more.

Wikimedia Commons

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society has introduced new guidelines for breast cancer screening. It now recommends people get mammograms at age 45 instead of 40.

Morgan Powell is the outreach coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Health’s Integrated Cancer Services. She says Wyoming recommends starting at age 50, the same as the US Preventative Services.

Still, "There are exceptions to every rule," says Powell. "If there are signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer, that absolutely makes you a priority for the program."

WINhealth To Leave Wyoming

Oct 21, 2015

The health insurance company WINhealth will be pulling out of Wyoming. 

A variety of financial difficulties including low reimbursement via the Affordable Care Act is causing the company to leave Wyoming at the end of the year. Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause says the state will take over management of the company and make sure its financial obligations are taken care of.       

“Do not panic, your claims will continue to be processed and paid and we will assist in an orderly transition of those policies to another carrier.” 

Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been a wet summer with lots of bugs. And all those flies and insects have led to the worst outbreak in years of a livestock virus known as vesicular stomatitis. The virus is identical to foot and mouth disease, except it can affect not only cattle but horses and other livestock. It causes sores on the animal’s mouth, ears and feet. State Veterinarian Jim Logan advises stopping the spread of the disease by limiting contact with other’s people’s livestock and with insects.

Wyoming Department of Health

State officials say this has been Wyoming’s worst year on record for human cases of the disease Tularemia, or rabbit fever. Tularemia is a bacterial disease that is passed to humans by animals, insects, untreated water, and even contaminated dust. Once you have the disease, symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, ulcers, and diarrhea.

Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti says they have not pinpointed any one factor leading to the uptick in reports.

Wikimedia Commons

Planned Parenthood came under fire when videos surfaced of its employees discussing the distribution of fetal tissue for research. A bill to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood was blocked by the U.S. Senate, but some House Republicans say they will continue the effort to the defund the organization after summer recess.

Gonorrhea Cases Double

Jul 22, 2015
knowwyo.org

Wyoming health officials say they are seeing a gonorrhea outbreak. They had 61 reported cases earlier this month compared to a total of 31 last year. Half of the cases involve people in their 20’s.

The Director of the state’s communicable disease surveillance program, Courtney Smith, says the problem is that couples are not using condoms. 

Courtesy Annie E. Casey Foundation

Wyoming has improved in national child well-being rankings over the past year, but still ranks very low when it comes to child health. That’s according the Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday by the Annie. E Casey Foundation.

Wyoming saw improvements in economic well-being, education and family & community concerns—and rose from 19th to 16th place overall in the annual rankings. But the Cowboy State still ranks 45th in the nation for child health.

Pages