Health and Medicine

Health news

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Some psychiatric patients are spending not just hours in the emergency room, but days or a week. They're living there in the ER because there is nowhere else to send them. Pacific Northwest policymakers are now making it a priority to create more treatment capacity for people in mental health and addiction crises.

TVW / TVW

According to Washington State’s Department of Health, one infant dies almost every day in the state. Major causes include sudden unexplained infant death, low birthweight and premature birth.

And state health officials say the number of kids who die before the age of one is consistently higher among Native Americans and African Americans compared to any other race.

Officials from across the state met Thursday to discuss infant mortality as part of Governor Jay Inslee’s Results Washington Initiative.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Every week, tens of thousands of Americans complete intensive drug and alcohol rehab programs. The next months, however, are fraught with risk of relapse.

A treatment counselor or supporter can't monitor you around the clock. But now your always-on smartphone can watch you, coach you, alert your mom and even give rewards.

@LtGovBradLittle / Twitter

The two biggest blood networks in the Pacific Northwest say the region's blood supply is suffering a critical shortage.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network






Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital is no longer in immediate jeopardy of losing federal funding.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Federal inspectors have found serious safety violations at Western State Hospital that could increase the chances of patient suicides. The finding this week has the potential to further imperil $65 million in annual federal funding the state receives to operate the 857-bed psychiatric hospital near Tacoma.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

One night about a year ago, the lights in Brian's Tacoma apartment suddenly went out. He was in his bedroom. When he walked out to see what had happened, he said he found his adult daughter who lived with him had stuck a bread knife into an electrical outlet.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The stories of patients and their families are critical to learning more about how state government operates and how our mental health system is functioning. They also shed light on personal struggles with mental health and fight the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders.

The state is currently trying to reshape the hospital and improve our long-struggling mental health system. The issue will likely be at the forefront of the Legislature's 2019 session, which begins in January.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For the last several years, Washington state lawmakers have been working on a response to a state Supreme Court order to fully fund schools. Now they’re signaling a shift to the next big challenge: mental health.

At a news conference Friday at Western State Hospital, Republican state Sen. Steve O’Ban framed Washington’s mental health crisis this way:

“I kind of think of this as, this is a bad analogy perhaps, but McCleary Two,” he said.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

The U.S. Surgeon General wants more Americans to carry the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

So how do you get it?

Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson / U.S. Air Force

The “Mobile Mouth”, a 42-foot long mobile dentist’s office, will stop in Portland and Spokane this week as part of a nationwide tour to provide free dental care to veterans. 

Enrique Perez de la Rosa / Northwest News Network

For the past 16 years, Jill Hutton has been managing a pediatric clinic in Aberdeen that once treated 70 to 100 children a day. But now it’s empty. She’s working on shutting it down.

“Everyone asks me what I’m going to do and I don’t know,” she said. “I won’t know ‘til I turn out the lights and lock the doors. I guess this is the last episode of ‘Cheers’.”

Dr. Heather Tick

At a medical clinic in Seattle, Dr. Heather Tick takes a thin acupuncture needle and inserts it into Hannah Lilly’s neck.

“How are you through there?” Dr Tick asks Lilly.

“Not great,” Lilly replies.

Jon Connell / Flickr - tinyurl.com/y72ktat6

The Washington state Senate has passed a measure that would expand health insurance plans to cover birth control, including abortion.

Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

The opioid crisis is front and center at the Washington Legislature this week. On Monday, lawmakers heard testimony on three bills aimed at preventing and treating opioid addiction and reducing overdose deaths.

Courtesy Shannie Jenkins

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to declare the opioid epidemic a public health crisis.

On average, two people die each day in Washington from opioid overdoses. That includes deaths from prescription and synthetic opioids, as well as heroin.

Visitor7 / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/j6o4lkn

Lawmakers in Washington state heard testimony Thursday on a bill aimed at improving long-term care for LGBTQ seniors. 


The bill would require that state nursing home workers and other long-term service providers be trained in the needs of LGBTQ patients. 


Visitor7 / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/j6o4lkn

Nearly 20,000 people have been removed from Washington’s Medicaid rolls for ineligibility. The purge happened after the state stepped up efforts to verify residency and income levels.

Amanda Mills, USCDCP / Pixnio - tinyurl.com/y8stmzyt

Washington and Oregon are making contingency plans in case Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP is for low-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Joel’s Law allows families in Washington state to petition a court to involuntarily commit a mentally ill loved one. In Pierce County, home to Tacoma, nearly 100 percent of petitions are granted, but in Seattle’s King County, most are rejected.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In the living room of her Olympia home, Crystal opens up a large file box that contains her son’s life history.

“As a mom you keep those shot records and those test scores in their little file even if they’re in their 20s,” said Crystal, whose last name we’re not using to protect her son's identity.

But this plastic box has something else: a detailed record of her son’s battle with addiction and mental illness beginning when he was 12.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Efforts to turnaround Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital are taking longer than expected. The federal government this week granted yet another extension to give the state’s largest mental hospital more time to fix systemic problems.

TaxRebate.org.uk

If you buy individual health insurance through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange get ready for sticker shock. Rates will go up by an average of 24 percent next year.

National Park Service

The first cases of West Nile virus in Washington State this year have been reported in Spokane County. 

TVW

People who buy individual health insurance in Washington state can expect another round of rate hikes next year.

“I’d say double-digit [increases] are almost a certainty,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in an interview Thursday on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Two small-town hospitals in the Palouse have announced they plan to offer gender confirmation surgeries. The same surgeon would offer the procedure at Pullman Regional Hospital and Gritman Medical Center in nearby Moscow, Idaho.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The top three nationally reported STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and they are all on the rise in the Northwest and across the nation.

Jason Taellious / Flickr - tinyurl.com/y95mf85f

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

Oregon Governor Signs Reproductive Care Bill

Aug 16, 2017
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has signed into law a bill to require health insurance policies to cover the cost of abortions.

Cool By Default / Facebook

Washington’s state Department of Health will remove a billboard deemed offensive after public backlash. The billboard in question was an initiative from the Department’s Marijuana Prevention & Education Program.

Pages