Public Health News For Indiana

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An opioid epidemic.  High  smoking rates.  Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges.   Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Please write us with story ideas or questions at sideeffects@wfyi.org.  

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Veterans Turn To Yoga To Help Treat PTSD

Aug 30, 2016
Jill Sheridan/WFYI

An estimated 8 million people in the United States suffer from PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder. In Indiana, as many as 50,000 Hoosier veterans could be dealing with it. But a new program is exploring a novel treatment: yoga.

Is Indiana’s Alternative Medicaid Expansion Working?

Mar 25, 2016
Reginald Rogers in a dental office
Phil Galewitz / KHN

Reginald Rogers of Gary, Indiana owes his dentist a debt of gratitude for his new dentures, but no money.

Indiana’s Medicaid program has them covered, a godsend for the almost toothless former steelworker who hasn’t held a steady job for years and lives in his daughter’s basement. “I just need to get my smile back,” Rogers, 59, told his dentist at a clinic here recently. “I can’t get a job unless I can smile.”

Number One In Meth Lab Seizures, Indiana Considers Laws To Restrict Pseudoephedrine

Jan 6, 2016
Pharmacy sign reads: We are proud to be part of the solution to reduce meth manufacturing in Fulton County.”
Drew Daudelin / IPBS

This spring, the Indiana State Assembly will take up two bills designed to fight methamphetamine production. Indiana has been number one in the country for meth lab seizures in recent years, and state officials say they expect the same for 2015.

One proposed law would empower pharmacists to turn away suspicious customers and steer people to alternative drugs that don’t contain pseudoephedrine. The other would make pseudoephedrine prescription-only.

Jennifer Nugent and her three kids are throwing a big, blue ball around in the small living room of their rental home.

The kids are happy, but Nugent isn't. She planned to raise them in a place with much more room to play.

And she was. That is, until she learned that home was uninhabitable.

Two years ago, she and her husband bought a country home in the small central Indiana town of Mooresville.

"It was blue and it had a lot of potential for us to add on," she says. "We really, really wanted that house."

Seth Herald

Ravaged by one of the worst outbreaks of HIV in recent history and an underlying epidemic of injection drug addiction,  a small rural community is changing fast as it grapples with the fallout of the crisis. In this 4-part series, reporter Jake Harper and photojournalist Seth Herald tell the story of shifting attitudes, new thinking, and signs of recovery.

Read and listen to the stories

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse could lead to more severe outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C nationally, much like the outbreak now seen in Indiana. A health advisory the agency released Friday outlines steps that state health departments and medical providers should take to minimize the risk of that happening.

A temporary needle exchange program is set up at a Community Outreach Center in Austin, Ind.
Barbara Harrington / WFIU/WTIU

More than 130 people have tested positive since December, and the outbreak is no longer contained to just Scott County.

As the number of people living with HIV in Indiana increases, health officials, politicians and everyday people remain at odds over how to stop the disease from spreading.


needle exchange
Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

Public health officials in Southeastern Indiana have been scrambling to contain an outbreak of HIV linked to intravenous drug use. Now, one Indiana lawmaker plans to introduce an amendment on Wednesday that would permit the distribution of clean needles to IV drug users.

If all goes according to plan, next year many Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries will be required to make monthly contributions to so-called Health Independence Accounts. Those who don't may have to pay more of the cost of their medical services, and in some cases may be refused services.

Supporters say it will help nudge Medicaid beneficiaries toward becoming more cost-conscious health care consumers. Patient advocates are skeptical, pointing to studies showing that such financial "skin-in-the-game" requirements discourage low-income people from getting care that they need.

Is Raw Milk Worth The Risk?

Jun 3, 2014

Twenty states, including Indiana, have banned the commercial sale of raw milk, which has not been pasteurized or homogenized. But raw milk consumers such as Lida and Carl Pinkham have found a legal way to drink the milk they love: They own a cow share at a local dairy farm. Although Indiana law prohibits raw milk products from being sold commercially, there are no laws against drinking milk from your own cow; with a cow share, several people pay a small fee to receive a few gallons of raw milk each week.

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