Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth 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. 

bobbyyb78 / Flickr

Faced with a medical problem, many people opt for the emergency room or they contact their primary physician. But in today’s Health Checkup, we look at when to use a third option: urgent care centers. Sam Baker talked with Dr. Sarah Holder, medical director of the Quick Care Clinic at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas. 

Most surgeries involve a doctor’s hand working inside the body. But each year more doctors and patients are opting for a robotics-assisted approach. There’s more precision and greater visibility for doctors with 3-D imaging, plus less scarring and faster recovery for patients.  But the approach has its critics.

Scientists say there’s enough wasted energy in Texas to power our lights for centuries. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports on SMU researchers and a business who are turning waste heat from oil and gas wells into electricity.

A plant that grows quickly and cheaply in Texas may become an alternative to building materials that are non-biodegradable, and may someday change the way businesses like Brown's Boat Repair in Mesquite operate. 

Today we continue in the spirit of Earth Day with the first in a series of stories, “Going Green: The Practical Payoffs." We’re taking you to the UT Arlington campus where a biomedical engineering student has come up with a way to get a special kind of bacteria to eat food waste. The process creates energy in an environmentally-friendly, money-saving way. KERA’s BJ Austin says the young inventor hopes to take his microbial fuel cell from the lab to the workplace.

surroundsound500 / (cc) flickr

State health officials plan to roll out the Texas Women’s Health Program November 1. KERA’s BJ Austin says it will continue family planning services for low income women without any federal funds.

Marc Roberts / (cc) flickr

Typically, the KERA Health Checkup looks at subjects about maintaining your health. But in connection with National Healthcare Decisions Day, we look at advance planning for terminal illness. Sam Baker talked with Dr. Robert Fine of Baylor Medical Center about advance directives.

Liz Henry / flickr

It’s the fourth leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer. Stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. It’s sometimes called a brain attack, but stroke is often preventable. In this KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Dion Graybeal. He’s Medical Director of the Stroke Program at Baylor Medical Center.

Soffer Tali / (cc) Flickr

About 150,000 people develop colon or colorectal cancer each year. For about one in five, the disease is hereditary. So your family’s history with colon cancer is vital information when screening for the disease. In our KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Samir Gupta of U.T. Southwestern Medical Center tells Sam Baker your family history determines what type of screening you should have – and when.

Seattle Municipal Archives / (cc) flickr

The state’s Health and Human Services Commission says it plans to present a funding option for the Women’s Health Program to the Legislative Budget Board soon. KERA’s BJ Austin says that would be good news at Parkland Hospital, where some 9,000 woman are enrolled in the program at risk of being eliminated.

Parkland Hospital’s income is dropping while expenses are rising. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on health care reform could affect all Texans, including the nearly six million without health insurance. Local health care experts say the required coverage for everyone could make people healthier, but clog waiting rooms. And it could ultimately change the way health care is paid-for and delivered.

Courtney Collins / KERA

Texasis one of 26 states fighting the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care legislation at the Supreme Court where hearings began Monday. About 25 percent of the Texas population is uninsured, that’s close to six million. KERA’s Courtney Collins spoke to people at a Dallas hospital and bookstore about how mandated health coverage would impact them.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Mar 26, 2012
Svein Halvor Halvorsen / (cc) flickr

Be aware that prolonged times of sitting still while traveling or while at the office can be dangerous. Blood clots can form in deep veins of the arms and legs, torso or pelvis, or the neck. In this KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Ana Lorenzo of Vein Care Solutions tells Sam Baker deep vein thrombosis or DVT can be a serious condition.

Nutrition & Children

Mar 19, 2012
KidfreshFoods

March as National Nutrition Month is being used to raise awareness about healthier eating. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked with Meridan Zerner, a registered dietitian with Cooper Aerobics, about nutrition and children. She said many kids don’t always get the nutrients they need despite their parents’ efforts.

Planned Parenthood clinics across the state have a little more time before the must turn away patients in the state’s Women’s Health Program. KERA’s BJ Austin says funding was to be cut Wednesday, but new regulations issued over the weekend allow patients to be seen through April 30.

Coming of Age ... Immunizations

Mar 12, 2012
*MarS / (cc) flickr

Under a change to Texas law, adults can now track their immunizations through a state registry database that was formerly only available for children. But once adolescents turn 18 their records are purged unless they request otherwise. Texas doctors are worried about the loss of those records.

WebMD.com

March is National Nutrition March.  In a KERA Health Checkup, some advice on the subject for people 50 and older. Sam Baker talked with Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at U-T Southwestern Medical Center.

Qnexa & Weight Loss

Mar 5, 2012
Jelly Mark

The Food and Drug Administration next month is expected to say if it will approve Qnexa. A diet pill promising a ten percent weight loss could offer hope to a nation with an obesity rate near 35 percent. But Tammy Beaumont is concerned. In a KERA Health Checkup, the Weight Management Director for Methodist Health System talks to Sam Baker about the way you should manage weight loss, even if you used Qnexa. 

Parkland's Board of Directors met with federal hospital inspectors Friday to go over a plan to fix serious safety and patient-care problems identified by an independent auditor. 

Board members Cobie Russell and Jerry Bryant say it’s going to be a huge job.

Russell: We have our marching orders. There’s no question about that. It’s a heavy load, but nothing we can’t do.

Bryant: It may take more than the hands and feet than we have internally to do it. And I think the Board would agree we will provide the resources that are required.

Vitamin Supplements

Feb 27, 2012
shannonkringen

Many people take some form of vitamin supplement to begin the day. But taking vitamins doesn’t come without potential risk. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Susan Rodder, a clinical nutrition instructor at U.T. Southwestern Medical Center. To start, do you need vitamin supplements if you maintain a balanced diet?

Thursday night KERA Channel 13 and public television stations across the state will air an hour-long program on obesity, its link to hunger and what Texans are doing to combat the problem.

Parkland

Dallas and Tarrant counties lead the state in infant deaths. They’ve been the highest of all urban areas in Texas for more than a decade. KERA’s BJ Austin reports county health officials don’t know why, and are working to figure it out.

In a KERA Health Checkup, a look at how doctors access an artery to check your heart for suspected blockage. It’s called percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI. Most doctors go in through the hip or groin. But a growing number are choosing to access the wrist area instead.  Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Joshua Jacobi of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

Parkland Hospital officials say they are making big changes after failing two critical safety inspections last year, and a new, independent audit found patients ignored in the emergency room, and dirty operating rooms. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.

Fitness Vs. Heart Disease

Feb 13, 2012
Kanaka Menehune (cc) flickr

Personal trainer Bobby Whisnand is partnering with the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness about heart disease. He talked with Sam Baker about steps we can take to reduce the chances of developing heart disease.

Women And Heart Disease

Feb 13, 2012

The American Heart Association this month is drawing attention to heart disease – particularly in women.  Nearly eight million women in the U.S. live with the disease, but few believe it’s their greatest threat. That shouldn’t include a nurse with the title of E-R Cardiac-Stroke  Coordinator, but in a KERA Health Checkup, Karen Yates of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center told Sam Baker she learned her lesson the hard way.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined more than 200 students from Dallas’ Moseley Elementary this morning. KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports the first lady came to watch teams of top chefs create nutritious school lunches.

Parkland Hospital says it will not release an independent audit that found safety problems in 15 hospital departments. KERA’s BJ Austin says that’s not what Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins wants to hear.

Basics of Blood Pressure

Feb 6, 2012

Recent study results by researchers at the University of Exeter indicate measuring blood pressure in both arms instead of one can be a useful indicator of the likelihood of heart trouble. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Jane Sadler with Baylor Medical Center at Garland.

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