Health and Medicine

Health news

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

It was a rocky start to Obamacare in Washington. The state’s new health insurance website is up now, but it was shut down for most of the day because of technical glitches.

Colehour and Cohen

Telemedicine is rising to new levels of accessibility thanks to the increasing prevalence of smartphones, tablets and webcam equipped computers.

US Army Corps of Engineers

New advisories from health officials in Washington and Oregon warn that some fish in the Columbia River aren’t safe to eat.

Vaughn Bullfinch. Medical resident Vaughn Bullfinch considers himself lucky to have residency spot in a rural Northwest hospital in an area where he hopes to settle down.

For decades, rural parts of the Northwest have found it difficult to lure doctors to small towns. Community leaders in Yakima, Wash. went so far as to found a small medical school to train doctors to practice in these underserved areas.

The Pacific Northwest University opened in 2006. But there is a problem. Small towns throughout the region just don’t have enough residency programs. And that means many of these doctors-in-training may move away.

The state of Washington is just beginning the process of writing new rules to govern hospital mergers. But already there’s controversy over what role the state should play when religious health care providers propose to take over hospitals.

The pace of hospital mergers has picked up in recent years amid a climate of healthcare consolidation. Many of them involved Catholic-based providers. The ACLU of Washington and other organizations are concerned this trend could limit access to end-of-life and reproductive services.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Call it a case of “lost in translation.” Washington and Oregon’s new health insurance exchanges are getting poor marks for their efforts to communicate with foreign language audiences.

On the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website you can find fact sheets in eight foreign languages – from Cambodian to Somali. These one and two page documents are supposed to help uninsured families navigate the new world of the Affordable Care Act.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Home canning is regaining popularity as part of the local food movement. If done right, families can enjoy home grown fruits, vegetables and even meat all through the winter. But if done wrong it can be devastating, if not deadly.

A lawyer for the state of Washington recently learned that lesson the hard way.

Cover Oregon

Nearly $500 million.

That’s how much the federal government has awarded Washington, Oregon and Idaho to create health benefit exchanges. These are the new web portals to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a costly undertaking that involves six-figure salaries, hefty IT contracts and high-end advertising campaigns.

If a green, talking gecko can sell car insurance, then maybe Portland-based folk singer Laura Gibson can sell health insurance.

Virginia Alvino / Northwest News Network

This year in the Oregon legislature, there was a big push to dramatically boost funding for mental health programs. The effort was spurred on by mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. But mental health advocates say in the end, the legislature fell far short of the game-changer they hoped for.

After last December's mass shootings in Newtown and the Clackamas Town Center, Democrats and Republicans found bipartisan agreement on the need for more mental health funding. Oregon lawmakers considered a measure that would have dramatically expanded the state's mental health services.

Thomas Lersch / Wikimedia

The National Institutes of Health Wednesday announced it will retire the great majority of chimpanzees used in federally-supported medical research.

The institute director says the use of our closest animal relative for invasive studies can no longer be justified in most cases. That means more than 300 chimps are headed into retirement. But neither of the two chimpanzee sanctuaries here in the Northwest say they're prepared to take new chimps.

Pages