Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Lauren Silverman

Fort Worth isn’t just home to the Stockyards and Sundance Square anymore. Cowtown is now home to a plant that will produce the first smartphones ever assembled in the U.S.

Shutterstock

In three weeks, the Texas health insurance marketplace will be open for business. There will be a variety of plans to choose from – the basic bronze and even platinum – but all of them, and many private insurance plans too – will be required to cover certain benefits like checkups starting in 2014.

Shutterstock

If you want job security and a good salary, investing in putting an “M” and a “D” in front of your name is a pretty solid way to go. Today there is unprecedented demand for MD’s, or family physicians, in Texas and across the U.S., according to a new study led by Irving-based consulting firm Merritt Hawkins.

Why?

BJ Austin / KERA

The brain of a middle school child is a mystery. If you’re a parent, you may have found yourself saying “What were you thinking?” or “Use your brain”.  That’s just what 6th, 7th and 8th graders in West Dallas are going to do at a brain-training boot camp. Nine language arts teachers at Edison Middle School and Learning Center are using a new program to teach kids critical thinking, starting today.

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, but much of that function remains a mystery. Weekend Edition Sunday is asking some pretty fundamental, yet complicated, questions about why we do it and why we can't seem to get more of it.

Dr. Matthew Walker says the question of why we sleep remains "that archetypal mystery."

Walker, the principal investigator at the sleep lab the University of California, Berkeley, works with patients who suffer from sleep abnormalities. He says the complexity of sleep makes the research that much more fascinating.

Shutterstock

Lace up your shoes and get ready to jump in — the health insurance marketplace opens in less than a month. And even though the details of the plans — or prices — available to Texans on the new site haven’t been revealed, you can still get a leg up by preparing early.

Nick Harris

Tarrant County leads Texas in the number of babies that die before their first birthday. The JPS Health Network is launching some new programs to fight that grim statistic.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There are nearly six million people in Texas without health insurance. The majority will be able to get coverage when the state marketplace opens in October, but not everyone. Undocumented immigrants won’t be able to sign up for health care through the exchange. 

advancedparticletherapy.com

Preliminary work on a proton cancer center at the site of the old Dallas Apparel Mart is expected to begin soon. And the city is making plans to kick in $7 million to jumpstart construction.  Proton technology more precisely attacks tumors with fewer side effects.   

State health officials have issued a whopping cough alert.  Dr. Lisa Cornelius, infectious diseases medical officer, calls the number of pertussis, or whooping cough cases in Texas extremely concerning.

The state is on pace to see the most cases since the 1950’s, and state officials are urging people to make sure they are vaccinated.  Texas reports nearly 2,000 cases so far this year with two deaths. Both were infants too young to be vaccinated.

Shutterstock

Check-up, check.

Teeth cleaning, forget it.

Shutterstock

Seniors in Texas are among the worst off in a new report ranking states by level of food security. While hunger is a problem usually associated with extreme poverty and children, the reality is we’ve got millions of seniors in the U.S. who are going hungry.

Luciana Christante / Flickr

When it comes to medical advice, most people turn to their doctor. But in some places, it’s the religious leader whose words resonate. In one North Texas community, parishioners followed guidance from pastors who said to turn to faith before medicine. And this month, more than twenty of them became sick with the measles.

The State Fair of Texas has named the eight finalists for the 2013 Big Tex Choice Awards.  Each year, eight concessionaires are chosen to compete for the top prizes of Best Taste and Most Creative. Past winners include Fried Coke, Fried Beer, Fried Cinnamon Roll with  Bacon and Deep Fried Jambalaya.

The state of Kentucky’s got ‘Kynect,’ Idaho’s got ‘Your Health Idaho’, what’s the Lone Star State going to call its health care exchange? True, the exchange will be set up by the federal government, but Texas still gets to brand it.

Here’s a few ideas:

Klara Kim

State Health officials are warning about handling ‘live’ chickens in light of an ongoing, national Salmonella outbreak. Thirty-two Texans have become ill in what health officials say is the largest ever Salmonella outbreak linked to live birds.

Texas students had to get up to date on vaccinations to return to school today – especially the measles shot. An outbreak of the viral disease in North Texas has hit Tarrant County hardest. Many of the 15 cases traced back to a person who traveled out of the country where measles is more common. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Tarrant County epidemiologist Dr. Russell Jones talks about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A long line formed outside the Dallas County Health and Human Services building on Friday. Most were parents waiting to get their child immunized before the first day of school on Monday.

Schools require that students be up to date on all of their required shots, but the recent outbreak of measles in North Texas may also have prompted some parents to take immunization more seriously.

BJ Austin

A year from now, the nation’s biggest hospital construction project will be finished.  As the new, 17-story Parkland Hospital takes shape, top contractors have found themselves with additional duties: conducting hard-hat tours for a preview.

Paul Hakimata Photography / shutterstock.com

Doctors usually clamp and cut the umbilical cord less than a minute after childbirth. But a study recently published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews suggests waiting longer would benefit a newborn. Dr. Sheri Puffer, an Ob-Gyn with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, explains why in this edition of KERA’s series Vital Signs.

This is shaping up to be the worst year for whooping  cough in Texas since the 1960s. State officials report nearly 1,700 cases of pertussis so far in 2013. About half of those are in North Texas.

On Friday, we profiled Nicole Studer, a Dallas ultramarathoner competing in the Leadville 100 in Colorado this weekend. Studer finished the 100 mile race almost exactly an entire day after she started – in 24 hours and 25 minutes. That placed her ninth among women. Ashley Arnold won the race in 20 hours, 25 minutes, and Ian Sharman was the overall winner in 16 hours, 30 minutes.

Nicole Studer

For most runners, finishing a marathon is the pinnacle. But for ultramarathoners, 26 miles is little more than a training run. So what drives someone to run 100 miles in one stretch? For 20 hours? We followed a Dallas ultramarathoner as she prepared to take on one of America’s most grueling races.

robinsan

Texas is dead last in nursing home quality, according to a new state-by-state report card delivered this month from a Florida-based advocacy group.

Shutterstock

When it opens October 1st, this marketplace will not have any lines. At least that’s what we’re hoping. In Texas, the federally run health insurance marketplace (formerly known as “the exchange”), is an online shopping site designed to take the confusion out of buying private health insurance. So how will it work and who needs to shop there? We got the breakdown from Stacey Pogue of the Austin-based nonprofit, the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Shutterstock

Money for the so-called health insurance “navigators” has arrived. The federal government announced Thursday that eight Texas organizations will receive a total of $10.8 million to train “navigators” to help uninsured Texans find coverage on the new marketplace set to open Oct.1.

Obamacare 101: Medical Home One-Stop-Shop For Health Care

Aug 14, 2013
Shutterstock

For years, this 6,000 square foot building was an Albertson’s grocery store. Now, Fort Worth-based JPS Health Network is giving it a makeover. In 2015, people won’t come to this strip mall to shop for bread or bananas, but instead for health care.

Sarah Fields Photography / Shutterstock

The largest federally-owned wind farm is about to be built at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced today. The five-turbine project will power more than 60 percent of the plant once it is complete.

BJ Austin / KERA News

The Pentagon estimates that one in every five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered at least one mild concussion.  Since 2007, the military has pumped about $700 million into research on traumatic brain injury. That research can be traced from Fallujah to Friday Night Lights.  

Like Florida, Texas is a popular state for sinkholes. There’s been several of them in the past decade — the biggest ate up a chunk of Daisetta (Liberty County, Texas) in 2008, and became a private pool for a 7-foot alligator!

Pages