Health

Parkinson's Disease, dance class
Jodie Martinson / Boise State Public Radio

Elizabeth Keller has trained her body to be completely stable even while standing on her tip toes. She's performed with Boise's best dancers as part of the Trey McIntyre Project and now with Ballet Idaho. But her passion these days is for helping people who shake because of Parkinson's disease find fluidity through dance.  

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho health officials say an unusual respiratory virus that's been causing illness among children across the U.S. is in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday confirmed the presence of the enterovirus D68.

Officials say a child hospitalized in eastern Idaho tested positive for the virus. The child has since been released from the hospital.

census.gov

The percentage of Idahoans with no health insurance was unchanged between 2012 and 2013. A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau says 16.2 percent of the state’s residents lacked health coverage in 2013. That’s about 257,000 people.

The nation as a whole saw a slight decline in the uninsured in that time, from 14.8 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013.

Eastern Idaho health officials say four children have been hospitalized due to a respiratory virus.

Officials tell KIFI-TV that the children are being treated at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Hundreds of children in more than 10 states have been sickened by a severe respiratory illness that public health officials say may be caused by an uncommon virus similar to the germ that causes the common cold.

medical stock, scale, healthcare
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

New figures on weight show Idaho stands out among Western states -- but not in the way public health officials would like. 

Idaho was the most obese state west of the Dakotas and one of only six states nationwide where adult obesity rose between 2012 and 2013.

Idaho jumped nine places on the annual ranking by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report shows nearly 30 percent of adults in Idaho are obese.

Becky diVittorio, Optum
Idaho Statesman

A federal agency is investigating whether the company Idaho hired to manage part of its Medicaid program has violated patient-privacy laws.

Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, took over insurance management for Idaho Medicaid's mental-health and substance-abuse patients last fall.

Local health-care providers who treat those patients say Optum has erroneously sent them reports meant for other providers. The reports show patient names and mental-health or substance-abuse services the patients received or were authorized by Optum to receive.

Federal Officials Order Medicaid To Cover Autism Services

Aug 26, 2014

When Yuri Maldonado's 6-year-old son was diagnosed with autism four years ago, she learned that getting him the therapy he needed from California's Medicaid plan for low-income children was going to be tough.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The state’s effort to rein in Medicaid costs has created deep friction between small businesses that deliver behavioral-health services to Medicaid patients and a new contractor hired to manage them.

Service providers across Idaho have raised complaints over the last 11 months that the contractor, Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, has created red tape and cut services needed by at-risk patients.

Map by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The number of West Nile virus cases in Idaho have gone up this month in humans and mosquitoes.  
 

Human cases of West Nile were reported in four counties recently, Blaine, Lincoln, Payette, and Washington.  

Public health officials across the U.S. say the number of cesarean sections being performed has gotten way out of hand. It's a life-saving surgery for complicated births, but today nearly a third of pregnancies end up as a C-section.

bannokcountymosquito.com

Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus of 2014. A Blaine County woman in her 20s is recovering from a virus-induced fever. Eight other Idaho counties have found West Nile in mosquitoes this summer, but the Blaine County case is the first confirmed human infection.

Last year, 40 known people in Idaho contracted West Nile and two died. A 2006 outbreak saw nearly 1,000 cases and 23 deaths in Idaho.

medical stock, scale, healthcare
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's employee health insurance plans are comparable to the federal government's most expensive option offered under the Affordable Care Act and better than what most private companies provide.

According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts released Tuesday, Idaho covers 93 percent of all medical costs for state employees.

That compares to private Idaho employers, where plans generally cover 80 percent of medical costs.

New York Canal
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise’s ethics commission next week will look into a case of a city firefighter who rescued a man from an irrigation canal, who then died several days later.

In June, Boise firefighter Brent Matthews jumped into one of the area’s biggest and fastest irrigation canals to rescue a man who had fallen in. Local TV station KTVB did a story praising Matthews for his heroism.

mosquito, bug, West Nile
Enrique Dans / Flickr Creative Commons

West Nile virus has now been reported in seven Idaho counties. The mosquito-borne virus has shown up in Adams, Ada, Bingham, Boundary, Canyon, Gem and Payette counties.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says all instances of the virus have been discovered in mosquito pools, no human cases of the disease have been reported.

Last year, West Nile was found in 16 Idaho counties. Forty people were infected with the virus and two Idahoans died. One of the worst West Nile years on record was 2006 when nearly 1,000 Idahoans were infected and 23 people died.

Federal dollars meant to restore toxic areas like old factories, mines and gas stations are now going to clean up after another long-time industry: methamphetamine.

Ben Rauch / Flickr

West Nile virus is in Ada County. A mosquito trap near Star, Idaho tested positive for West Nile this week. It the first instance of the disease in Ada County this year.

As Boise Is Surrounded By Wildfires, Smoke Could Be Here For Weeks

Jul 17, 2014
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Smoke is settling in the Treasure Valley from wildfires burning in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Canada. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is forecasting moderate to unhealthy air conditions for the next couple of days. 

"We’ll see higher levels in the early morning hours and before lunch," says DEQ's Michael Toole, "and hopefully if that pattern continues, we’ll see clearing in the afternoons which will give us some relief."

Health officials in southwest Idaho say norovirus is what sickened dozens of people at Eagle Island State Park last weekend.

The Central District Health Department says the likely source is a sick person who swam in the water or became sick at the park.

Department spokeswoman Kimberly Link says the virus can spread from one person to another through recreational water, food and direct contact.

She says human waste and vomit are the main sources of norovirus.

yogurt, chobani
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A fungus found in Chobani yogurt produced at its Twin Falls facility last year that led to a voluntary recall was more virulent than first thought.

In August and September 2013 more than 200 people were made sick by the Greek yogurt after a strain of fungus called Mucor circinelloides was detected in the product.

Public health officials in the Northwest say they're seeing gonorrhea infections at levels they haven't seen in years. Three counties in Washington state are now in the midst of an outbreak. Parts of Oregon and Idaho are set to top even last year's high numbers.

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