health care

NIH/Public Domain

The Affordable Care Act--"Obamacare"--got health insurance for millions more people, but it is far from perfect. 

And that opinion is common even outside the Republicans in Congress who keep voting to kill the program. 

Richard Master got tired of constantly paying higher health insurance premiums for employees of the company he runs, so he went to look for an answer.  What he found ended up a documentary film called "Fix It: Healthcare At The Tipping Point."  Its essence: single-payer health insurance is the way ahead, "Medicare for all." 

skylakes.org

A big city hospital and a small town version will team up to train doctors in Oregon. 

Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland and Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath falls plan a joint venture on the Sky Lakes Campus. 

It will strengthen health care in the Klamath Basin and skills training for physicians planning to go into family practice. 

Penguin Random House

Emily Wing Smith nearly died in a car accident when she was twelve years old. 

And that turned out to be a good thing; because her post-accident health care discovered a brain tumor, a big one.  The presence of the tumor explained a lot of anomalies in her health and behavior before the accident. 

The story of the tumor and its effects and treatment is told in Smith's memoir All Better Now

U.S. Army/Public Domain

You can imagine why lots of doctors like to work in urban areas... there are lots of people there, and building a lucrative practice would be fairly easy. 

There's a lot less money to be made in rural areas, and that's why the federal government provides the National Health Service Corps

NHSC brings medical professionals to "underserved" communities in exchange for some commitments. 

Dr. Kelvin Vu at the Open Door Clinics in Humboldt County arrived through NHSC, and is happy sticking around. 

Southern Oregon Historical Society

Another medical drawback of living in a mostly rural area is the time it takes to get critical care. 

The best hospital can be a couple of hours away by car.  And that situation explains how Mercy Flights came to be. 

The country's first private non-profit air ambulance service started in Medford in 1949, and continues today. 

It's more than surviving, it's thriving, too, as Mercy Flights added local ground ambulance service, too. 

Oxford University Press

It's not the stethoscope, it's the ears.  Doctors have a lot to listen to when a patient arrives complaining about a health matter. 

But the patient's story tops the list. 

Medical schools stress the importance of taking a patient history and keeping the story straight, a process underscored in the book Listening For What Matters

NIH/Public Domain

There's plenty of drama involved in the practice of medicine.

That's why there have been so many TV shows over the years about doctors and hospitals. 

But the drama can get in the way of good communication, and that's why there is a play called "Bedside Manners."

It is part play and part workbook for health professionals to use, to focus on improving their communication and patient care. 

Wikimedia

  Linda Boly just wanted to do her job as a nurse at a Portland hospital. 

But she had concerns about the quality of nursing, and pointed out to hospital administrators that cost-cutting was jeopardizing patient care. 

She was fired for poor job performance, even though her job reviews had been stellar. 

Boly begged to differ, and did so in court.  Now her former employer has to pay her $3 Million for wrongful termination. 

Algonquin Books

Theresa Brown loves her work as a nurse, and loves to write about it. 

She gives glimpses of the medical world in her New York Times column, and long, unblinking views in her books, including the new The Shift.

The title refers to a single day, one 12-hour shift in which Brown and her colleagues deal with life-and-death matters involving four separate patients. 

It gives a plain and frank look at the situations and decisions faced by medical professionals, and the effects on patients. 

mercykillerstheplay.com

It's hard to believe it's been five years since the Affordable Care Act--"Obamacare"--became law. 

What's less hard to believe is that many people still seek better health care laws, to further protect people from medical and economic catastrophe. 

The one-man play "Mercy Killers" debuted shortly before the law passed; it details the all-too-frequent circumstances of a man attempting to care for a sick wife. 

The play comes to Springfield on September 20th and Eugene on September 25th. 

La Clinica

  Being healthy involves more than going to the doctor from time to time. 

The doctor probably reminds you to get regular exercise and eat well. 

Combining approaches to health is one of the features of the new wellness center of La Clinica, set to open soon in Medford. 

Health care workers will see patients there, but there are also features like a demonstration kitchen, for showing patients how to prepare healthy meals. 

Oregon's Medicaid Expansion Going Well

Jul 7, 2015
National Institute of Health

Oregon began putting its own spin on providing health care to the public even before the Affordable Care Act--"Obamacare"--took effect.  

  The work of the state's version of Medicaid, the Oregon Health Plan, is now distributed through CCOs, coordinated care organizations.  And a recent report from the Oregon Health Authority shows the system working well, despite an influx of newly-insured patients under the federal law.  

Participating In The "Wellness Uprising"

Jan 27, 2015
Midnight Star Publishing

We're not accustomed to quizzing our doctors about specific health issues, but Rob Pell of Grants Pass says we should get used to it. 

In his book Wellness Uprising, Pell makes the case for people taking greater control of their own health. 

That includes moving away from the standard pill-based approach to feeling better. 

Wikimedia

The Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's brand of Medicaid for low-income households, now covers medical procedures for transgender people. 

As of January 1, OHP covers the cost of sexual reassignment surgery. 

The insurance plan will also cover hormone therapies and suppression of puberty. 

Not every Medicaid plan covers such procedures. 

Sharing The Dental Wealth (and Health)

Dec 30, 2014
Wikimedia

There's nothing quite like the pain of a toothache. 

It's remarkable how a problem with one little tooth can affect so much more. 

Actually, it's not remarkable to medical people, who know the many ripple effects of poor dental care. 

Providence Medford Medical Center partners with La Clinica and St. Vincent de Paul to provide dental services to people who can't otherwise afford them. 

A New Approach To Curbing Unwanted Pregnancies

Nov 6, 2014

The ongoing efforts to overhaul health care in America include some decidedly new wrinkles. 

The Oregon Health Authority plans a new strategy to reduce unwanted pregnancies through the CCOs, coordinated care organizations like Umpqua Health Alliance.

Women on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) will be asked if they plan to become pregnant in the next year.

Wikimedia

Giving birth is as natural as… well, having a baby. 

Making connections to all the people who can help a mother give birth… that can be trickier. 

Is your family doctor the right person?  Should you find an obstetrician, a midwife, a doula? 

Southern Oregon Birth Connections is all about delivering answers to those questions (and delivering healthy babies, too). 

Closing A Gap In The Blood Supply

Aug 27, 2014
Wikimedia

Autumn is closing in, and blood banks need to close a gap in blood supply. 

Blood supplies frequently dip in the summer, as regular blood donors skip appointments for vacations and other reasons. 

The Red Cross in the Northwest is beating the drum to bring in donors. 

Thierry Geoffroy/Wikimedia

Not all the people who show up at the doctor's office or ER speak English. 

Oregon law recognizes this, and requires certified medical interpreters to be on hand when medical professionals treat non-English speaking patients. 

But that's easier said than done, with interpreters in short supply. 

Results of Oregon's Medicaid Expansion

Jun 27, 2014
Thierry Geoffroy/Wikimedia

Oregon's 2008 Medicaid (Oregon Health Plan) expansion offered a gift to health researchers. 

Since people either got Medicaid coverage or didn't by lottery, large numbers of people--thousands--would be available to test the results of health insurance coverage (or not) on previously uncovered populations. 

Bottom line: the covered people are not a whole lot healthier, but they made more use of health care services and spent less of their own money. 

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