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 health@wfyi.org  

Ways to Connect

Andrew Peterson isn’t one to stay still, but he’s had to get creative since COVID cancelled the marathons and competitions he’d normally be running in. Seth Johnson interviewed him and his father for Side Effects Public Media as part of an audio diary project for our Move to Include series.

What does an entertainment journalist do when he can’t cover events? Seth Johnson talks about his experience learning new skills — including creating radio diaries for Side Effects — during the pandemic. Part 1 of our Move to Include series on how people with disabilities are coping during this nationwide public health crisis. 

Hilary Powell/Side Effects Public Media

The CEO of IU Health is speaking publicly about racism as a public health crisis, and says Black leaders in the organization want more training dedicated to being “actively anti-racist” in culture. 

Jake Harper | Side Effects

The Indiana Department of Correction will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the Indiana Women’s Prison, according to an email sent to staff on Friday. 

The department will examine the facility’s “operations, programs, treatment services, maintenance and situational readiness.” The email says the decision to conduct the review follows complaints about the prison over the past couple of years. 

Courtesy of James Roberson

Three times a week, an Uber ride on Indianapolis’ East Side helps to perserve the life of bright-eyed, 11-year-old Jay’Shawn Roberson.

Every other weekday, Jay’Shawn and his snaggletooth smile take a ride from his Brightwood apartment to Riley Hospital for Children for dialysis treatments. James Roberson uses lunch breaks to take his son to outpatient care, leaving Jay’Shawn there so he can return to the job that is a lifeline for his formerly homeless family. 

PHOTO BY ENGIN AKYURT ON UNSPLASH

At Riley Hospital for Children there's been a jump in emergency room visits related to mental health and suicide. From March to December, these visits increased 61 percent compared to the same months in 2019.

Hilary Blake, a psychologist at the Indianapolis hospital, says there is a mental health crisis in Indiana.

New Program Helps People With Diabetes Eat Healthy

Dec 29, 2020

Standing in her kitchen, Therese Richardson is making her favorite recipe. “The honey dijon roasted pork tenderloin. I like that one,” the 50-year-old Indianapolis woman says.

Richardson has Type 2 diabetes, meaning that cells in her body are resistant to insulin, causing her blood sugar levels to rise. Eating vegetables and other healthy food helps her avoid serious complications — and lowers blood sugar levels.

Pixabay

On Dec. 4, Dr. Susan Moore posted a video from her hospital bed in the Indianapolis area. Short of breath and with an oxygen tube in her nose, she said that she was denied proper care while being treated for COVID-19.

Less than three weeks later, she died from the virus. 


Office of the Lieutenant Governor

On a quiet day this month, barber Trey Cato had someone new in his chair -- someone who’d come for the conversation, not the haircut.

“When a kid's friend gets shot and they die, [the kid] gets the [memorial] T-shirt, but before he goes to the church and the funeral, he stops at the barbershop to get a haircut,” Cato recalls telling Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who traveled hours from the state capital to visit his shop in Ft. Wayne. “The barbers have so much influence.”

Pixabay

Megan Miedema is a mother of two in Chicago. In October, she started to feel back pain but was hesitant to go to the doctor. She worried about getting COVID-19 and bringing it back home. 

The new  COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out across the country — a process that will take months. But there were hopeful signs Wednesday at an Indianapolis hospital where some of the first shots were given.

Pixabay

For many mothers giving  birth during the pandemic, pregnancy has not gone as planned. To learn about these experiences, a pair of researchers is collecting pandemic birth stories from across the country. 

Photo provided by Trey Cato

Where there is a mirror and barber chair, Trey Cato sees a ministry.

“We’ve prayed in my barbershop,” he says. “The kids are not going to church, but they're going to get a haircut. When we come together and listen to these people, I believe we can change the community.”

Courtesy of Chelsea Reed

On their last phone call, Chelsea Reed says her “proud” mother broke down, distraught about fears of dying alone in her long-term care facility, Rosewalk Village on Indianapolis’ east side.

Justin Hicks / IPBS

The Miami Correctional Facility is getting more dangerous.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The continued stress from COVID-19 has heightened mental health problems nationwide. And some experts say that has led to an increase in drug overdoses.

For Thanksgiving this year, Kurt Beard was planning to travel from Indianapolis to Ohio and meet family for an outdoor hike, but as he watched COVID-19 rates spike he decided even that was too risky. Instead, his family is ordering pizza, video chatting with relatives and playing games.

However, when weighing spending time with elderly family members versus the coronavirus threat, Beard is conflicted.

Some Indiana universities are turning to COVID-19 exit-testing ahead of students leaving campus before Thanksgiving. But while some campuses are offering testing as an option, others are requiring it. 

Aime'e Elliott

Earlier this year, Aime’e Elliott couldn’t keep any solid foods down while pregnant with son Jacion. So the 28-year-old Indianapolis woman called a community group before even considering her doctor.

IU Health

As a pediatric chief resident at Indiana University’s medical school, Dr. Chaniece Wallace had a list of blessings. This fall, the 30-year-old was interviewing for jobs around the country — and preparing for the birth of her first child. 

Hilary Powell

At a time when they need her the most, Teshezia George says she’s forced to shutter her shelter doors. That leaves women who have fled domestic violence to sleep in unsafe spaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention // CCO

Pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine and receive FDA approval. In the meantime, states are finalizing plans to distribute the vaccine — and overcome potential challenges. 

WFYI

Three of Central Indiana’s largest health systems want people to understand that racism is a public health crisis. And it's preventable.

In a joint statement, the leaders of Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health and Indiana University Health say they want to go on record in pledging to do more to end health disparities and inequity. 

Courtesy of Maria Duenas Lopez

Last of a four-part series. As we conclude our series on young activists, we meet Maria Duenas Lopez, a first generation Mexican-American who advocates for immigrants. Side Effects Public Media’s Darian Benson interviewed her about the importance of an inclusive democracy.  

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