Jake Harper

Reporter, WFYI

Jake Harper started his job at Side Effects shortly before the 2015 announcement of an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana, and since then has focused his reporting on addiction, Medicaid and access to health care. His investigations have covered medical industry influence in state and national government, a clinical trial that skirted federal regulations and various barriers to evidence-based addiction treatment. His stories have been broadcast at stations across the midwest and nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Latino USA and Here & Now.

Harper also co-hosts the podcast, Sick, with Lauren Bavis. Visit sickpodcast.org for more information. 

Ways to Connect

Seth Herald/Side Effects

Four days a week, public health nurse Brittany Combs drives her SUV around the small town of Austin, Indiana, handing out clean needles to injection drug users and talking to people about going to rehab.

It’s a task that can be rewarding—when one of her customers finally wants help to get off drugs—and a bit agonizing, because there’s often not a rehab bed ready for them.


Anna Frodesiak/Wikimedia Commons

Carla used to get dialysis a couple of times a week at the public hospital in Indianapolis, Eskenazi Hospital. She would sit in a chair for hours as a machine took blood out of her arm, cleaned it, and pumped it back into her body.

Then one day in 2014, she was turned away.  

    

 

The needle exchange in Fayette County, Ind. is hidden in a back office at the health department. Paula Maupin, the county’s public health nurse, runs the exchange, which is basically just a desk with baskets of everything a drug user needs, apart from the drugs. There are syringes, cotton balls, alcohol swabs—even tourniquets.

 


Sarah Jackson had quit abusing drugs and was sober for six months before finding out she has hepatitis C. The Fort Wayne, Indiana mom says she was newly focused on starting her career and on raising her six kids. The diagnosis came as a shock.

Ed Uthman/Flickr

A few weeks ago, Micah Clark, head of the conservative American Family Association of Indiana, received a letter from the Indiana State Department of Health that troubled him. It stated that his 14-year old daughter hadn’t yet been vaccinated for human papillomavirus, or HPV, and encouraged a vaccination to protect against various cancers.

Jake Harper/Side Effects

 Last year, Erin and Isaac Hougland of Indianapolis got certified to become foster parents, with the hope of adopting a baby. Just a few weeks later, they got a call.

An 8-week-old baby needed a home. All they knew was that the boy's mother was a heroin addict and had left him at the hospital. They were told that because of the drugs, the baby might require some special care. But mostly, he just needed a place to go.

"Both of us were just like, 'Let's do it,' " says Isaac Hougland. "We wrapped up what we were doing at work and went to the hospital."

Jake Harper/Side Effects

Retired farmer Dick Himsel’s Danville, Indiana property looks like an idyllic Midwestern small farm. Trees line the driveway, leading up to an old-fashioned wooden farmhouse that’s surrounded by tall stalks of corn.

One thing the property does not have, though, is fresh air.


IU Health

When Brandy Gibson was 17 and pregnant with her daughter, Calie, something strange started happening when she opened the freezer door.

Vaping360.com/Flickr

E-cigarettes may set young people on the path to smoking regular cigarettes, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.


zhouxuan12345678/Flickr

Scientists at Indiana University may have found a new, more reliable way for doctors to predict if someone is considering suicide. The researchers, led by psychiatrist Alexander Niculescu, discovered detectable blood biomarkers for suicide risk. They published a report on their findings last week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


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