HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

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The Colorado Department of Agriculture is reporting the state’s first confirmed case of equine West Nile Virus this year.

As The Prowers Journal reports, a horse in Larimer County was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is dealing with computer problems that brought down the system used to process welfare benefits applications.

Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for DCF, says people seeking benefits can still submit paper applications and required documentation. The applications will be entered after the system comes back online.

Mdnicholson42 / Wikimedia Commons

Rural school enrollment is on the decline in Oklahoma—and funding to rural communities is going down with it.

As The Tulsa World reports, small towns like the ones in Western Oklahoma receive a set amount of state funding per pupil. That means, when fewer students enroll, the schools and communities suffer.

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Many Texas Panhandle students will return to school this week.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, most school districts in the Panhandle have chosen to return from summer earlier this year, preceding by a week and a half the state-mandated start date of Aug. 28. Canyon ISD and four of the five Amarillo school districts will begin on Wednesday.

Rabies Cases On The Rise In Colorado

Aug 10, 2017
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Rabies cases are on the rise in Colorado this year.

As The Prowers Journal reports, the Colorado Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division sent out a release last week indicating the number of reported rabies cases in Colorado was on the rise in 2017.

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In the last three years, 3,000 Oklahomans have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis.

Now, as the Enid News And Eagle reports, state Attorney General Mike Hunter is doing his best to rein in the scourge of opioids.

But he’s got an uphill battle.

In 2014, almost 10 million prescriptions for opioids were filled statewide - the equivalent of giving everyone in the state 50 pills.

Two area hospitals earned spots on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.

The University of Kansas Hospital was deemed to be the best hospital in Kansas and in metro Kansas City, while Saint Luke’s was ranked the second best hospital in Missouri, behind Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka was deemed the second best hospital in Kansas, the only other hospital in the state to earn top honors.   

Fourteen schools in seven school districts across Kansas will work this year on revamping the way they serve children, with the goal of becoming statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The education department is branding the effort to re-envision schools as Kansas’ version of “a moon shot,” referring to the U.S. race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

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Safety experts are saying the decision by U.S. officials to abandon plans to require sleep apnea screening for truck drivers and train engineers puts millions of lives at risk.

MaxPixel.com

Motorists trying to drive through Amarillo have recently noticed a proliferation of the color orange - orange cones, orange traffic barrels, orange-vested road crews.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the City of Amarillo has been the beneficiary of a wealth of department of transportation funds lately, and the windfall has resulted in infrastructure projects all over the city.

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Some Texas Panhandle school districts are standing up to what they see as unfair treatment of public school students by the Texas Legislature.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, a bill is making its way through the Texas House of Representatives that would authorize $60 million in grants for special needs students to attend private schools. The bill, known as SB 2, was already approved by the Senate during this special legislative session.

TexVet.org

Beginning next month, anyone over 18 applying for a driver’s license in the state of Texas will have to take a course to understand the dangers of driving while distracted.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the class is called the “Impact Texas Young Drivers” course, and it highlights the dangers of texting while driving. A similar two-hour video course was introduced for drivers under the age of 18, two years ago.

Rural Areas Hit Hardest By Opioid Epidemic

Aug 2, 2017
FUTUREPROOF / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The opioid epidemic has hit rural areas like Morton County, Kansas harder than other areas, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the staff of the tiny Morton County Hospital in southwest Kansas has gotten good at identifying repeat customers: people who regularly show up looking for opioid pain medicines.

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A new battlefront has opened up in the High Plains war against prescription painkiller abuse.

As KFOR reports, veterinarians have begun to keep an eye out for pet owners who may be using their pets’ prescriptions themselves.

Dr. Eli Landry, a vet in Seminole, Oklahoma, said he and his colleagues have noticed a new type of patient who comes in with a pet and requests a specific medication by name.

NASA

Colorado’s climate changes have health researchers in the state concerned about the impact it will have on people with compromised respiratory systems, seniors, children and others.

Public Domain

Washita county, in western Oklahoma, has given up on the Women, Infant, and Children program, The Oklahoman reports.

The WIC program provides nutrition services to young children and pregnant women. The announcement came from the Cordell Memorial Hospital, who administers the program. Officials said they can no longer afford to provide the nutrition for free to local mothers and children.

Graham Crumb / Wikimedia Commons

Texas still has the highest mortality rate among new mothers in the developed world.

In 2010, Texas saw 19 deaths per 100,000 live births. By 2014, that number had doubled to 36. And the maternal mortality rate is particularly pronounced among black women in Texas.

However, despite the high rate of danger for mothers in Texas, legislators in Austin did not pass any legislation this year to study or combat the problem.

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Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week, reports KOTV. To honor the occasion, Oklahoma health officials are reminding residents of how they can support breastfeeding mothers.

The Oklahoma Department of Health notes that employers can support new mothers by providing flexible break times, and by making sure workplaces have private areas to allow mothers to breastfeed.

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Wait times for medical appointments at veterans facilities in eastern Colorado are among the worst in the nation, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data.

As The Denver Post reports, throughout the 13 hospitals and clinics that make up the Eastern Colorado Health Care System, or ECHCS, the average wait for a primary care appointment as of July 1 was more than 12 days

Only Amarillo, Texas and Palo Alto, Calif. were worse.

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Over the past two months, the State of Oklahoma has approved almost 900 emergency teaching certificates.

As The Tulsa World reports, many classrooms in Oklahoma have yet to find teachers and droves of educators have moved to Texas and elsewhere, in search of better pay.

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Foster kids in Oklahoma will soon receive state funding to attend private school, if they choose to do so.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, in the past state funding for private schools has been given to disabled or special-needs students. But this is the first time that funding has expanded to include foster children.

The idea behind the change is to allow foster kids who have experienced trauma to tailor their education to their needs.

Health care advocates say they’ll keep the pressure on Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran as debate moves forward on a possible repeal of Obamacare. Moran voted to go ahead with debate on a health care overhaul, but in the past he’s voiced concerns about Medicaid cuts.

Related: Moran Explains Position On Obamacare Repeal After Vote Against Bill

A fresh legal challenge to the state’s 2014 elimination of teacher job protections has reached the Kansas Supreme Court, close on the heels of a separate lawsuit that proved unsuccessful six months ago.

Environmental Protection Agency / Wikimedia Commons

For years, some Texans in agricultural areas have been complaining of chemical drift from crop dusters. Poisonous pesticides can sometimes drift as much as five miles from their intended targets, especially in the high-speed winds of the Texas Panhandle.

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As he closes in on the one year anniversary of his hiring, West Texas A&M University President Dr. Walter Wendler has been making the rounds promoting his ideas for educational growth on the High Plains.

Wendler is the former chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and he was formally named president of WTAMU last September.

Among President Wendler’s main concerns is the heavy burden of student debt in America, and especially how that issue affects residents on the High Plains.

Staffing shortages at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are creating unsafe working conditions, according to the head of the union that represents state workers.

Douglas Perkins

One Oklahoma teacher has now turned to panhandling to pay for necessary items for her classroom.

Oklahoma teachers will be returning to work in a few weeks, and that means they’ll have to get their classrooms ready. But, in cash-strapped Oklahoma, this can be an even bigger challenge than in other states.

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Oklahoma will soon announce a new health care initiative aimed at reducing premiums and expanding coverage for everyday Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Affordable Care Act has struggled recently. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only remaining insurer on the state exchange.

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Many Oklahomans will be forced to change the way they drive after a new law takes effect in November.

As KFOR reports, beginning Nov. 1, drivers will no longer be allowed to travel in the left lane permanently.

The Kansas State Department of Education is asking schools to increase the number of students who go on to college or vocational programs within two years of leaving high school.

The department released new district-by-district data this month as part of its push toward that end.

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