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

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.

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

Open enrollment for health insurance started last Saturday. It’s the time for people to buy a health plan, or to renew what they already have. And for the first time this year, the state’s health exchange is offering health plans for small businesses. 

Marcie Sillman interviews KUOW health reporter Ruby de Luna about some of the changes the Washington state Health Exchange has made. Last year more than a million Washington state residents signed up for health insurance through the Washington Health Plan Finder website.  Saturday is the first day of open enrollment. People need to sign up or renew their health care plans by February 15, 2015. 

Fourteen year-old Shaylee Chuckulnaskit died just before 5 p.m.Friday from her injuries.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Community health centers have been busier than usual. They’re seeing more patients, many of them newly insured.

The centers, which provide care for mostly low income families, are meeting the demand by branching out to remote, underserved communities. But the challenge now is finding enough providers to staff these clinics.

There’s a racial gap when it comes to how women experience breast cancer. Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease compared to white women. And black women who survive tend to have lower quality of life.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

At the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Sea-Tac Airport, parents Ron and Christine Vega wait for their boarding passes.

Their son, Gibson, 5, carries a blue backpack that has essentials for a mock airplane trip: snacks, things to keep him preoccupied and a white cloth towel that helps him deal with stress.

Mobile Medical
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

About twice a month, King County’s Mobile Medical van comes to Renton. It opens at 4:30, but it’s often slow until closer to 6:30, when the church across the street begins serving hot meals for homeless people.

The inside of this RV has been retrofitted so there’s an exam room, a nurse’s station and a waiting area.  A generator gives off a droning buzz as it powers this efficient little clinic.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

One of the public health clinics slated for closure got a reprieve today as King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a partnership that would keep the White Center Public Health Clenter at Greenbridge open through the 2016 fiscal year.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Fifteen children, ages 6 months to 14 years, are being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital for a severe respiratory illness known as entero virus.

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

People usually go to Skagit Valley for tulips and berries. But here’s a little known fact: The region also grows grains. Grains used to be grown mainly as cover crop and often shipped out of state. These days Skagit Valley is seeing a grain revival, thanks to a local researcher.

If your experience with whole grain bread takes you back to the hard brick loaves of the '70s, Stephen Jones at the Bread Lab wants to change that.

Mayor's Office

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Tuesday plans to create a cabinet level department that will focus on closing the achievement gaps in Seattle Public Schools.

“Ninety percent of white fourth graders read at grade level, compared to 56 percent of African-American students,” Murray said at a press conference. “And when you open up those numbers by gender, they actually get worse.”

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