health care

Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to Heather Stephen-Selby about nurses' preparedness for Ebola in Washington state. Stephen-Selby is the assistant executive director of practice, education and research for the Washington State Nurses Association. 

Also Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington's chief epidemiologist, explains how the state is preparing and what the state still needs to do.

Flickr Photo/Penn State (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Group Health family practitioner Dr. Matt Handley about a new report that looks at unnecessary medical testing in Washington state.

Exactly one year ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges stumbled into existence. Consumers struggled to sign up for its online marketplace — and the Obama administration was pummeled. Eventually, HealthCare.gov's problems were mostly fixed, and two weeks ago, the administration announced 7.3 million people have bought insurance through it so far this year.

So, was the health exchanges' first year a success — or something less?

Ask President Obama, and he says you measure the Affordable Care Act's success this way:

The heavyset man with a bandage on his throat is having trouble repeating a phrase. "No ifs ..." he says to the medical students and doctors around his bed at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Can I hear you say no ifs, ands or buts?" says Dr. Allan Ropper, the Harvard neurologist in charge. The patient tries again. "No ifs, buts, ands or," he says.

Kevin Wiehrs is a nurse in Savannah, Ga. But instead of giving patients shots or taking blood pressure readings, his job is mostly talking with patients like Susan Johnson.

Johnson, 63, is a retired restaurant cook who receives Medicare and Medicaid. She has diabetes, and has already met with her doctor. Afterward, Wiehrs spends another half-hour with Johnson, talking through her medication, exercise and diet.

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.

Dow Constantine in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Marcie Sillman talks to King County Executive Dow Constantine  about the new 2015-2016 budget.

Three times in one week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo returned to the emergency room of the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Southern California, seeking relief from intense back pain. Each time, Granillo waited a little while and then left the ER without ever being seen by a doctor.

"I was in so much pain, I wanted to be taken care of 'now,' " says Granillo. "I didn't want to sit and wait."

Catholic and other religious hospitals and universities have been arguing in federal court for much of the past two years that they shouldn't have to offer or facilitate birth control as part of their employee health plans because it violates their religious beliefs.

But what happens when the insurance company is itself Catholic? It turns out that Catholic health plans have for years been arranging for outside firms to provide contraceptive coverage to their enrollees.

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.

Washington State University's Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan Friday to establish a medical school in Spokane.

The leaders of Oregon's struggling health insurance exchange will be grilled by state lawmakers in a series of hearings at the capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

Marcie Sillman talks with Holly Greenwood, executive director of Washington's Rural Healthcare Collaborative, about what a medical school based in Spokane could do for the rural health care shortage.

Marcie Sillman talks with bioethicist Arthur Caplan about the implications of involving people in a research study without their consent. Caplan directs the bioethics division at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

Marcie Sillman talks with freelance journalist Lisa Stiffler about infection rates and patient safety in Washington hospitals.

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