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Thousands enrolled for insurance through Washington, Idaho health exchanges

Thousands enrolled for insurance through Washington, Idaho health exchanges

President Obama announced Thursday eight million people have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, while enrollment numbers in Washington and Idaho have been relatively high so far,

According to Washington's insurance commissioner, 146,000 people signed up for private insurance in the first six months. In Idaho, 44,000 people signed up, making the Gem State second in the nation per capita. So why has it been so successful in our two states? Washington and Idaho created their own state-run exchanges, while many states didn't and rely on the federal government.

Washington and Idaho have their own online marketplaces for families to shop for insurance and, despite some challenges like website issues, they've proven to be effective in enrolling people for health care.

Deanna Davis with Better Health Together said sign-up numbers in eastern Washington were higher than expected.

"We did triple enrollments than what we projected to do in our 14 country region," Davis said.

Flu outbreak kills 2 in Grant County assisted living home

The Grant County Health District is working closely with Garden Oasis Assisted Living staff to control a flu outbreak that has killed two residents.


“We are deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of the two residents,” states Dr. Alexander Brzezny, Grant County Health Officer. He adds, “The staff and hospital administration have been extremely cooperative and have put measures in place to contain the outbreak.”

Report shows high rate of tobacco sales to WA minors

Report shows high rate of tobacco sales to WA minors

The number of retailers in Washington that illegally sell tobacco to minors is high for the second year in a row. An annual report that tracks illegal sales shows about 15% of tobacco retailers sold tobacco to minors in 2013, which is about the same as it was in 2012. As recently as 2009, the rate was much lower, at about 9%.

Inslee poised to sign legislation restricting teens from tanning salons

Inslee poised to sign legislation restricting teens from tanning salons

Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign a bill that will make Washington State the sixth in the country that would prevent minors from using tanning beds, which has owners of local tanning salons, who rely on teen business, concerned.

Cindy Herring owns Jamaica Me Tan in Spokane Valley. Many of her clients are high school students and this legislation would stop most of them from tanning altogether.

"It's going to be difficult," she said.

Herring said she understands the health concerns but says educating young people is better than an all-out ban and that a better solution would be to regulate tanning for minors.

"Many other states have addressed, okay we need to have the signatures of children who are under 18 tanning and I agree with that, that's not going to hurt our business. It's going to let mom know that we're safe, it's going to let mom know the rules, the teenager know the rules, and that's the best thing you can do. Through education it's about safe tanning not risky tanning," she explained.

FDA considering revamping food labels

FDA considering revamping food labels

For the first time in 20 years, nutrition labels on the food you buy could get a big makeover.

Many people have walked through the grocery store, picked up something, tried to read the label and been totally confused. The print is very small, the information not cut and dry. Now the FDA wants to make shopping easier by changing these labels.

"They can be misleading," dietitian Natalie Tauzin said.

But for the first time in two decades, a major makeover, with new labels make calorie count bigger and highlight added sugars.

"So it would spell out how much sugar was added to this versus what was naturally in the milk," Tauzin said.

Tauzin, who works for the Spokane Health District, pointed out the new labels to help consumers decide what to grab from the shelves during a visit to Bargain Giant Foods.

"So it's 38 grams of sugar in this but there is nothing that would be a naturally sugar in this that is inherently in water so it's all added sugar," Tauzin said.

Aside from the larger calorie count print and added sugars column, the new labels will try to reflect what we actually eat, not what's ideal or recommended.

Heart transplant brings new life, love for Moses Lake woman

Heart transplant brings new life, love for Moses Lake woman

For most of us, the organ donor box is just another thing to check, or not check, on our driver’s license paper work. But for people like Cindy Kehl, that tiny check mark means the difference between life and death.


For Cindy, heart transplants have become a part of life. Dilated Cardiomyopathy runs in Cindy’s family, and the condition has required heart transplants herself, her sister and one of her sons. Her mother died from the condition, and her oldest son died waiting for a heart transplant.

How to cope with SAD during the winter months

How to cope with SAD during the winter months

These gray skies can sure bring on the winter blues. But is it just that or perhaps something more? Winter months in the Pacific Northwest are often known to bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder.

With the weather we've been seeing in Spokane it's not a huge surprise that people often experience SAD. Doctors say it is a real thing and is classified as a modifier to serious depression.

Even in the most beautiful of cities, gray skies can make people feel, well, kind of blue.

"It only affects me when we have low light and the less light we have, like right now, the more depressed I can get," said Spokane Valley resident Midge Stumm, who has SAD.

"I'd love to go to Palm Spring and spend the winter but it's a little cost prohibitive," she added.

Instead she uses several methods to beat the blues.

"Chocolate is probably the best one but the worst on my hips," she said with a smile.

While some attribute the winter blues to just plain old grumpiness, doctors say SAD is a condition.

"And we know it exists. We tend to see it more in the northern areas like here," said Dr. Jeff Wirthlin.