NPR Health

Voters in Nebraska may get to decide whether their state expands Medicaid this November.

Supporters of Nebraska's Medicaid expansion campaign, Insure the Good Life, turned in petitions bearing more than 133,000 signatures to the secretary of state Thursday. If 85,000 are validated, the issue will appear on ballots this fall.

"Now people will speak out and get the job done that should have been done long ago," says state Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat from Lincoln, Neb. He has introduced two failed proposals to expand Medicaid in the Legislature.

Many oncology patients swear off alcohol during treatment, but in the Czech Republic, where beer is the national beverage, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have a new option.

Vicki Bartholomew started a support group for wives who are caring for a husband with Alzheimer's disease because she needed that sort of group herself.

They meet every month in a conference room at a new memory care facility in Nashville, Tenn., called Abe's Garden, where Bartholomew's husband was one of the first residents — a Vietnam veteran and prominent attorney in Nashville.

In London, there's a museum dedicated to Charles Dickens, housed in his old, lovingly preserved home near the King's Cross rail station. There are over 200 museums in London. This one wasn't anywhere near the top of my list.

For many people, the dog days of July mean grabbing an ice pop, lounging outside, and letting the summer sun hit your skin. And for people of color, we're often doing those things sans sunscreen. After all, our melanin will protect us. Right?

Not so fast.

This week on Ask Code Switch we're taking on a question from Liz Mitchell, from New York. She writes:

"Dear Code Switch,

The night a gunman fired into a crowd of 22,000 people at the country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, nursing supervisor Antoinette Mullan at University Medical Center was focused on one thing: saving lives.

She recalls dead bodies on gurneys across the triage floor, a trauma bay full of victims. But "in that moment, we're not aware of anything else but taking care of what's in front of us," Mullan says.

The standard way to check for cervical cancer risk is the Pap smear, which involves visually inspecting cervical cells for signs of abnormality.

There's another way to screen for cervical cancer risk, by directly testing for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes 99 percent of cervical cancer. A study published in JAMA Tuesday suggests that method might be preferable for women age 30 and over.

The rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means that crops are becoming less nutritious, and that change could lead to higher rates of malnutrition that predispose people to various diseases.

What do you wish you'd known before becoming a parent?

In May, we asked our audience this question at the start of How To Raise A Human, our month-long special series on how to make parenting easier.

The only hospital serving the community of rural Callaway County, Mo. — Fulton Medical Center — was set to shut down last September. When staff arrived one afternoon for a potluck goodbye party, they were met with an unexpected guest, Jorge Perez, a management consultant from Florida. He announced he'd just bought the hospital, and planned to keep it open.

When Perez spoke about the takeover four days later to a packed city council chambers in Fulton, Mo., he got a standing ovation.

The patient at the clinic was in his 40s and had lost both his legs to Type 1 diabetes. He had mental health and substance abuse problems and was taking large amounts of opioids to manage pain.

He was assigned to Nichole Mitchell, who in 2014 was a newly minted nurse practitioner in her first week of a one-year postgraduate residency program at the Community Health Center clinic in Middletown, Conn.

A new report looks at the state of humanitarian aid.

The world was generous, says the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2018. A record amount of funds went to crises that range from the ongoing Syrian civil war to the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Coffee is far from a vice.

There's now lots of evidence pointing to its health benefits, including a possible longevity boost for those of us with a daily coffee habit.

A woman in Nevada dies from a bacterial infection that was resistant to 26 different antibiotics. A U.K. patient contracts a case of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea never seen before. A typhoid superbug kills hundreds in Pakistan. These stories from recent years — and many others — raise fears about the possibility of a post-antibiotic world.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is expected this week to sign the world's first ban on the sale of sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The state is banning the products because of concerns they may be harming one of the state's biggest attractions — coral reefs.

While it doesn't kick in until 2021, the move is already prompting pushback.

The Nipah virus scare that shook India in May had all ingredients of an-edge-of-the-seat medical thriller like Outbreak: A country of 1.3 billion people and an encounter with one of the most lethal pathogens of our times.

But in the end the deadly virus inspired a singing, dancing Bollywood-style music video.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

People do the darnedest things in hopes of avoiding mosquito bites. They burn cow dung, coconut shells or coffee. They drink gin and tonic. They eat bananas. They spray themselves with mouthwash or slather themselves in clove/alcohol solution. And they rub themselves with Bounce. "You know, those heavily perfumed sheets you put in your dryer," says Dr. Immo Hansen, professor at the Institute of Applied Biosciences at New Mexico State University.

Public health officials are expanding efforts to get the HIV prevention pill into the hands of those at risk, in a nationwide effort to curb infections. But the officials are hitting roadblocks — the drug's price tag, which has surged in recent years, and changes in insurance coverage that put a heftier financial burden on patients.

A federal judge has blocked work requirements for Medicaid patients in Kentucky, just days before new rules mandated by Gov. Matt Bevin's administration were set to go into effect.

In Friday's ruling, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg called the Trump administration's approval of the program, Kentucky HEALTH, "arbitrary and capricious."

Jahi McMath, the teenager who was at the center of a medical and religious debate over brain death, has died, according to her family's lawyer. She was 17.

McMath died June 22 at a hospital in New Jersey, the family's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said in a statement. He said a hospital doctor listed the preliminary cause of death as bleeding due to liver failure.

Our Take A Number series is exploring problems around the world, and people solving them, through the lens of a single number.

At a graduation ceremony in a hotel ballroom outside Minneapolis, 28 men and women got their certificates — for learning how to raise a bit of hell.

Most graduates of the Partners in Policymaking class are the mothers of young children with developmental disabilities. They've been meeting at this hotel one weekend a month for eight months.

Editor's note: This piece discusses suicide. If you have experienced suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide and want to seek help, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting "START" to 741-741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

In February 2016, Govin Munswami considered killing himself.

He had just returned to his family farm after visiting his wife, Amanda, in the hospital.

An E. coli outbreak that sickened people in 36 states and triggered warnings not to eat romaine lettuce this spring has been traced to water in a canal in the Yuma, Ariz., region – and the outbreak is now officially over, federal officials say.

"Suspect product is no longer being harvested or distributed from this area and is no longer available in stores or restaurants, due to its 21-day shelf life," the Food and Drug Administration says.

Angel Dean Lopez is a Hollywood television writer and father who enjoys doing projects with his three kids. Every fall, he helps them transform 7-inch-long blocks of wood into whimsical race cars for the neighborhood's annual pinewood derby in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

"So you have to take your block of wood, shape it, sand it, paint it, use your imagination," Lopez said, pointing to some favorites from derbies past that sit on a shelf in his home office, cars in the shape of an ice cream cone, a penguin and an Altoids peppermint box.

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