Ruby de Luna | KUOW News and Information

Ruby de Luna

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 1994

Ruby de Luna is a features reporter at KUOW. She had originally planned to go into TV, but ditched the idea after discovering public radio.  Ruby has reported on immigrant communities. She currently covers health care issues.  

Ruby is a transplant from Taipei, Taiwan. She holds a BA in communication from Seattle Pacific University. 

In the age of computer/digital audio editing, Ruby is proud to be one of the few old–schoolers who can still edit tape with a razor blade. In her free time she practices her knife skills on new recipes. 

Ways to Connect

Dr. Raphael Bernier of the UW Autism Center hopes a new autism study will help researchers identify biomarkers that are indicators of autism.
University of Washington

Researchers may have a handle on the genetics of autism, but they haven’t developed medical tests to diagnose it. A new nationwide study hopes to change that.

Swedish Hospital's facility on Seattle's First Hill.
Flickr Photo/Matthew Rutledge (CC BY 2.0)

New state rules intended to address secular hospitals' partnerships with Catholic health organizations has been rejected by the Washington Supreme Court.

The court ruled unanimously that the state Department of Health overextended its authority in expanding oversight of hospital mergers and affiliations.

Bridgette Hempstead, left, and Charity Jokonya are breast cancer survivors who advocate for African Americans with the disease. They were photographed in Hempstead's home in Seattle on June 25, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Charity Jokonya was 40 and a single mom when the diagnosis came a little over a year ago: breast cancer.

She read everything she could to better understand the disease. But what she really needed was someone to talk to, someone who understood what it felt like to be an African American with cancer.

A Clallam County woman was exposed to measles at a health clinic. She died three months ago at the University of Washington Medical Center, where she was transferred after being treated in Clallam County.
University of Washington Medical Center

A Clallam County woman died of a measles infection three months ago, health officials said on Thursday, making her the first person to die of measles in Washington state in 25 years.

She was the first person to die in the U.S. in 12 years.

The default in Washington state is to be rescusitated. Residents must fill out this bright green end-of-life care form (known as a POLST) to forgo being revived.
Washington State Department of Health

If you’ve talked with your family about end-of-life wishes – that’s the first step. You’ll also need paperwork to make your wishes clear.

There are different names for the documents you’ll need — living wills, advance directivesFive Wishes. They all serve the same purpose; they spell out what kind of medical treatment you’ll want if you become seriously ill, and how aggressive you want the treatment to be.

In this 2012 file photo, Troy Kelley, the Democratic candidate for state auditor at the time, takes questions at a debate.
Flickr Photo/Daniel Brunell (CC-BY-NC-ND)

State Auditor Troy Kelley is facing another investigation. This time the state is looking into possible criminal activities.

The state’s investigation is separate from the federal charges he currently faces.

Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a Tdap whooping cough booster shot.
AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren

Doctors on tight schedules often have a hard time answering questions about vaccines.

It’s especially challenging when the questions are not straightforward, says Group Health researcher Nora Henrikson.

Dr. Sara Jackson, left, and Linda Johnson were part of Open Notes, a national study that gave patients access to their medical records.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Do you wonder what your doctor scribbles in the chart during your visit?

Patients at Harborview Medical Center got to read their medical records, including their doctors’ detailed notes. For some, that access prompted them to become more involved in their health care.

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, right, holds Washington’s first dinosaur fossil to compare it with the cast of a femur of another theropod dinosaur held by  Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student.
Burke Museum

A large bone from a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in the San Juan Islands – the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state.

Researchers found the fossil by accident. In 2012, they were in Sucia Island State Park collecting sea creature fossils when they stumbled on a bone that looked unusual for that area.

A month later they returned to the site with paleontologists. Initially, Professor Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum didn’t believe it belonged to a dinosaur.  

But one feature of the bone convinced Sidor, a professor of biology at the University of Washington and vertebrate curator at the Burke Museum: “The muscles that actually attach to the back of the leg and retract the femur attach here. So this structure, the shape of it, and how close it is to the head of the femur tell us that this is a carnivorous dinosaur. All dinosaurs have this feature.”  

The scientists don’t know what kind of dinosaur the bone comes from, however, because there’s only a third of the bone. Sidor said it’s likely a therapod, which includes Tyrannosaurus rex, birds and Velociraptors. And they are pretty sure it is from the Late Cretaceous period and is about 80 million years old.

Meeting a pediatrician in rural Georgia change Dr. Wes Henricksen's career path and led him to a clinic in Longview, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

As a new doctor, Wes Henricksen wanted to help poor communities. But doing that hasn’t been simple. 

Henricksen joined the Child and Adolescent Clinic in Longview, Washington, nine months ago, soon after he completed his residency in Seattle. He had planned to work in global health, but in medical school, he met a pediatrician in rural Georgia who changed his career decision.

Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a Tdap whooping cough booster shot.
AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren

Washington state’s whooping cough outbreak continues to grow. So far this year, there have  been 397 confirmed cases, compared with 85 last year.

Whooping cough is cyclical; it peaks every 3 to 4 years.

Maria Fabrizio

It’s a discussion that most people avoid: end-of-life planning.

Doctors say it’s important to have these conversations while you’re still able. But let’s face it, talking about advanced directives can be uncomfortable, even terrifying.

Replacement parts for King County's emergency radio system won't be available after 2018, County Council member Joe McDermott says.
Flickr Photo/Bryan Jones (CC-BY-NC-ND)

King County's aging emergency radio system is facing crunch time: After 2018, replacement components won't be available.

So the county is proposing a replacement and asking voters to pay for it in a special election April 28. Boosting the existing property-tax levy would generate an estimated $273 million to pay for the upgrade, the county says.

Firefighters, police or paramedics responding to a crisis depend on reliable radios. Seattle’s new fire chief, Harold Scoggins, pointed to the communication problems that hampered first responders’ efforts during the 9-11 attacks.

Alice Beaty watches her son Adam work on speech exercises at their home in Bellingham, Wash., on March 27, 2015. Adam is recovering from a severe car accident. It was initially unclear if he would survive.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Palliative care has often been associated with elderly people who are dying.

Not anymore. Today, palliative care is more than that. It means supporting patients and their families, no matter their age. And it doesn’t mean that death is imminent.

Mark and Alice Beaty learned this first hand. A year and a half ago, they received a phone call that every parent dreads. Their son Adam had been in a rollover car accident on Interstate 5. He was 27 years old.

Greta Austin's family faced the issues surround end-of-life care when her father, George Austin, was diagnosed with cancer. He is pictured here with his wife, Shirley, On Easter Day, 2013.
Courtesy of Greta Austin

Greta Austin has spent a lot of time in medical waiting rooms.

Two years ago last fall, her father came to Seattle from Wisconsin for treatment, and she sat with him at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Moodette Ka'apana in a photograph taken at her 60th birthday celebration.
Courtesy of KaLehua Ka'apana

To people who knew Moodette Ka’apana, she was Aunty Moody.

“There’s a saying in the Hawaii community: ‘Huiiii, Aunty! How you?’” said Stephen Gomes, a friend.

“Everybody knew Aunty,” Gomes said, “they knew Aunty Moody.”

An example of a "sharrow," a painted icon intended to point the way for bikers on shared roads.
Flickr Photo/Ann and Tim (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattleites have many travel options, but sometimes those options clash.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray hopes to change that with a $900 million transportation levy being floated to voters this fall. Murray says his plan, called Move Seattle, would not perpetuate what he calls the mode wars.

A bill in the state Legislature would prevent people under age 18 from buying vaping products
Flickr Photo/Joseph Morris (CC-BY-NC-ND)

People who want to quit smoking have credited e-cigarettes with helping them kick the habit. But vaping is also attracting a new group of users — teenagers. 

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would crack down on retailers who sell vaping products to minors.

Bamboo, one of two elephants at Woodland Park Zoo, will be leaving with Chai.
Flickr Photo/Cara_VSAngel (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The Woodland Park Zoo’s two remaining elephants will be moving to Oklahoma City. Zoo officials made the announcement Friday after months of debate.

The clock is ticking for those who haven’t bought health coverage for 2015.

The deadline for open enrollment is Feb. 15th. So far, Washington state is falling short on its enrollment goals. To date, more than 40,000 residents have bought health plans through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s health exchange. The state’s goal was more than twice that.  

A poster at Rainier Beach High School's teen clinic lets students know they have a safe place to talk.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It used to be that students went to their school clinic to have their sore throat checked or get a vaccine. But many kids today have needs that go beyond physical health, whether it’s dealing with exposure to violence or having suicidal thoughts.

In response, a growing number of schools have started offering mental health services.

A bill in the state Legislature would prevent people under age 18 from buying vaping products
Flickr Photo/Joseph Morris (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week a state senate committee will hear a proposal that would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes and vapes to minors.

Last fall Sen. Judy Warnick got a tip from a police officer from her district in Moses Lake. He noted that students were buying e-cigarettes easily. “They were modifying them so they could use marijuana in those cigarettes," Warnick said. 

File photo of a flu shot.
Flickr Photo/Fort Meade (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1jxhkty

The flu season has been more severe than expected, with 42 deaths in Washington state so far.

The main virus that’s circulating in the community, known as H3N2, causes more illnesses and deaths, especially among young kids and the elderly.

When the Legislature convenes next week, Rep. Sherry Appleton plans to introduce a bill for a silver alert system in Washington state.

Similar to the Amber Alert for children, this alert would be for elderly people with dementia who wander off. Appleton says 60 people went missing in the past year.

“Six-zero,” says Appleton. “I think it’s a lot of people.”

Doctor
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bt29wL

For the past two years primary care doctors who saw Medicaid patients were given a pay increase. The extra money was an incentive for doctors to take in new patients who became eligible under Medicaid expansion. But starting January 1, 2015, that pay increase expires. Marcie Sillman talks to KUOW’s healthcare reporter Ruby de Luna about how this change might impact Medicaid patients.

Joanne Hubacka has been doing hair for four decades at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Getting your hair done can be good medicine. It’s one reason why Joanne Hubacka, 69, is so busy. For four decades, Hubacka has been fixing people’s hair at life care center, a nursing home in Kirkland. Her profile is part of an ongoing series of audio portraits of people who challenge our assumptions of old age. 

Governor Jay Inslee unveiled a new transportation plan at a Eastside Transit Project site atop SR520 on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Governor Jay Inslee has been traveling around the state to unveil portions of his budget proposal. Tuesday morning he stopped in Medina, where workers are completing the Eastside Transit Project atop the 520 floating bridge, to announce his transportation plan.

This Saturday, Liberian Americans living in the Northwest are hosting a fundraiser for Ebola relief efforts in West Africa.

The proceeds will pay for essential supplies. But for the Liberian community in the Puget Sound region, the event is a way to stay involved from thousands of miles away.

Kevin Stormans, owner of Ralph's Thriftway, is at the heart of a seven-year legal over whether pharmacists can withhold prescriptions for religious reasons. The debate began over whether pharmacists may refuse to dispense the contraception pill Plan B.
Google Maps Street View

Whether pharmacists must dispense controversial prescriptions goes before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. The case pits patients’ access to medication against healthcare providers’ religious beliefs. 

In 2007, pharmacy owner Kevin Stormans and two pharmacists sued Washington state. The Washington Pharmacy Board had just adopted rules to insure that patients had access to prescriptions in a timely manner.

Flickr Photo/neovain (CC-By-NC-ND)

You might think the elderly are targeted by strangers, but more often, it’s someone they know.  

Now prosecutors say that crimes against vulnerable adults are on the rise.

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