Side Effects

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Seth Herald / Side Effects Public Media

On a recent afternoon, Brittany Combs drove a white SUV through a neighborhood at the northern end of Austin, Indiana. In the back of her vehicle, there were hundreds of sterile syringes, each in a plastic wrapper.


Andrew Chambers is one of five addiction psychologists in the state of Indiana.
Andrew Chambers

Containing the nation’s growing heroin addiction and ongoing prescription opioid abuse epidemic, is often presented as a law enforcement problem. But behavioral health specialists say the addiction treatment side of the equation is equally urgent. And it’s an uphill battle in many states where addiction psychiatrists are few and funding is lacking.


Gabriela Garbero poses outside Britches Clothing, in Columbia, Mo., while she is beta testing the accessibility app Compeer.
Jack Howard / KBIA

A new accessibility app called Compeer is currently being beta tested and may soon be able to help those with disabilities navigate cities more easily. Based in Missouri, the app is being tested in two cities in that state: St. Louis and Columbia.

The Indiana State Department of Health promotes safe sleep habits as part of its efforts to reduce infant mortality.
Daniel Rothamel via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Indiana is focusing resources on some of the state’s most vulnerable communities to address a major health inequity. Earlier this month, Governor Mike Pence signed legislation to authorize $13.5 million over the next two years to a grant program aimed at reducing infant mortality, a problem which disproportionately affects African Americans.

Be.Futureproof / flickr

Several years ago, Missouri State Representative Holly Rehder’s daughter struggled with prescription drug abuse. “She had cut her thumb at work and went and got stitches and got a prescription,” Rehder recalls. When her prescription ran out she continued using the pain killers, says Rehder, “because they were so easy to obtain.”

Now, Rehder is sponsoring a bill to make it harder for addicts to obtain drugs in Missouri.


Nursing students at Crowder College's Jane campus practice on medical dummies.
McDonald County Instructional Center

McDonald County, in the rural far southwest corner of Missouri, ranked last in the 2014 County Health Rankings for clinical care compared to other Missouri counties, a measure which includes access to doctors, dentists, number of residents who are uninsured, and a few other factors.


Dentists see patients at a free dental care event sponsored by the Indiana Dental Association. More than 1200 people attended, many of whom hadn't seen a dentist in years.
Jake Harper

Antionette Salifou is a school bus driver in Indianapolis. She recently went to a dentist because of a pain in her mouth. She was told she needed a root canal, and along with the other care she needed, it was going to cost $2000 -- way more than she can afford, since she doesn't have insurance to cover it. 

“It’s just hard to fit in there with paying bills and everything," she said.

Salifou’s problem is not uncommon. About one in three Americans lacks dental insurance, and those that have it still may not be getting the care they need.

naloxone kit
Andrea Muraskin

  A bill to expand access to the overdose intervention drug naloxone was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence Friday, after passing both the house and the state senate unanimously. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can instantly save the life of a person who is overdosing. It was previously only available to medical personnel and public safety officials, and opioid drug users with a prescription from their doctor.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Lucia Sebastian is the Language Assistant at the Head Start in Noel, Missouri. She works with the numerous immigrant children who have limited English skills and need help to communicate.

She has a four-year old daughter enrolled at Head Start, but she recounted an incident where Head Start was instrumental in helping her older son, Victor.

When her son was eleven years old, he was playing baseball with a friend in the yard and got hit in the mouth with the bat. The blow knocked out several teeth, but Sebastian was unsure she could afford the costs of taking Victor to the hospital.


Michelle Faust

Palmer Gaetano served in the army in France and Belgium World during War II. The 92-year old now lives in a hospice facility in Spencerport, near his daughter and her family.  He proudly points to an American flag quilt and pin, and two plaques, now hanging on the walls which he received during a private ceremony held in his honor shortly after he entered hospice in late 2014. A group called We Honor Veterans presented each of these items to him. “It was quite a day for me,” he says.


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