health

Alex Brenner, Jordan Howard and Dorian Hinkle
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

The first time Rolando Elias came to work at the Federal Way farmers market, Dr. April Walter was nervous.

“That was a big-time risk,” April says. “It could have blown up in my face.” She opened a tent at the market to give young adults with autism a chance to work.

Cautiously Optimistic: Off To College, With Autism

Nov 10, 2012
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

Alex Brenner walked into his psychologist's office one day this summer and right away, he thought he had done something wrong. Both his parents were standing at the front desk. As he closed the door, his mom handed him a letter. “She said, 'read it.' I sat down. It said, ‘you’re getting into the University of Washington.’”

Alex was stunned. His dad helped him uncork a bottle of champagne and they celebrated on the spot. The University of Washington in Seattle was Alex’s first choice among schools. He had been studying for four years at a community college to get his grades up. All his hard work had finally paid off. But sitting there holding his acceptance letter, another wave of realization washed over him. Soon he’d be living on his own in a new city, a long drive from his parents’ home in Tacoma. He suddenly felt nervous.

The Hayden family / Wikipedia

Charles Sabine was a war correspondent with NBC for 25 years, covering conflicts all over the world — including Bosnia, Baghdad, and the Rwanda genocide. His reporting garnered him an Emmy and many other journalism awards. But four years ago his focus completely changed after getting a genetic test that revealed a lethal fate.

Ross Reynolds talks with Charles Sabine about what it is like to know you have deadly and degenerative disease in your future and the risks and rewards of genetic testing.

Shilo Murphy/People's Harm Reduction Alliance

Bob Quinn, one of the founders of Seattle's needle exchange, died over the weekend. The King County Medical examiner says it was suicide.

No-smoking sign.
Mikl Roventine / Flickr

Tacoma’s public housing is becoming completely smoke-free.  Right now residents can’t smoke in common areas.  But beginning March 1, 2013 residents won’t be allowed to smoke in their apartments.  The ban also includes outdoor areas like patios and balconies. 

A new online Seattle startup called Leafly is targeting medical marijuana patients.  The website (and mobile apps) feature information about medical cannabis strains and dispensaries based on tens of thousands of patient-generated reviews.  Ross Reynolds talks with Leafly’s CEO Brendan Kennedy about how the site works.

Flickr/ Neal Gillis

Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the disease in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country.  If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.   

Washington’s Health Exchange now has a formal name. It’s called “Washingtonhealthplanfinder.” The online program was designed to help people shop for individual or small group coverage. It will allow them to compare plans, and to see if they qualify for financial assistance. But it’s not live yet. The site is still under construction.  State officials hope to have the program up and running by next fall. They’re still deciding what kinds of plans will be sold.

You can follow the Exchange's progress, and learn more about it. 

Washington Senator Patty Murray has asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to provide a timeline for a review of how the military diagnoses PTSD and other behavioral health issues.

Line at McDonald's
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It’s been more than two years since King County required chain restaurants to post nutrition information on their menus.  The goal was to help customers make healthy choices. 

Seattle researchers wanted to see if the regulation has changed the way restaurants market their meals.  One change the study found is it seems restaurants are no longer promoting supersized portions or overeating. 

Flickr/erlin 1

The United Kingdom already has a universal health care system. So you might expect that the health gap between rich and poor is smaller in England than it is the United States — but you’d be wrong! 

Melissa Martinson is a professor in the  School of Social Work at the University of Washington and she talks with Ross Reynolds about the differences in health between citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. 

David K. Randall never gave much thought to his sleep – until he began sleep walking. That first midnight crash into a hallway wall went him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep. Ross Reynolds speaks with the author about his new book, “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.” 

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
John Ryan / KUOW

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

Western State Hospital in Lakewood is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital:

Megan Templeton sitting outside
Suzanne Kuhns

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried.  Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before.

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