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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.

WSU Veterinary College warns animal owners of tick paralysis

WSU Veterinary College warns animal owners of tick paralysis

From WSU News:

 

Warming weather in the Pacific Northwest always brings with it a renewed threat of tick paralysis in animals and people.

 

KXLY hits the slopes for 24 Hours for Hank

KXLY hits the slopes for 24 Hours for Hank

The boy in the above picture is Henry, but  friends call him Hank.

In November 2007 he was diagnosed with Cystinosis, a rare genetic disease that affects approximately 500 people in the United States (mostly children), and about 2,000 people worldwide. This disease causes the amino acid “cystine” to accumulate in the body’s cells. Over time, cystine buildup slowly destroys various organs including the kidneys, liver, muscles, white blood cells, eyes and central nervous system.

Because Cystinosis is such a rare disease that affects such a small population, research money is scarce to nonexistent. Termed an "orphan disease", Cystinosis has not been adopted by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat it or prevent it.

Yet research on complicated diseases like Cystinosis often lead to advancements in other rare diseases. In 2008 Hank's parents attended a fundraiser in California to raise money for research, and after talking to physicians and researchers are very hopeful a cure will be found some day soon.

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.

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.

Tips to keep your co-workers healthy when you're sick on the job

Tips to keep your co-workers healthy when you're sick on the job

Most of us know to stay home when we're sick, not only so we can get better but to keep from spreading your illness to co-workers. But not everyone we work with practices that general rule.

So what do you do when you absolutely have to go to work?

Kim Papich with the Spokane Regional Health District has some tips on what to do if you're sick on the job.

"Ideally we need people to be fever free for 24 hours before they go back to work," she said.

Papich also said to avoid close contact with co-workers, confine yourself to a cubicle or other space away from people in your office and to wash your hands frequently, especially after using the restroom.

"Covering your coughs with your sleeves, another great time to wash your hands is if you have to blow your nose or if you cough or sneeze," she added.

If soap and water isn't available, make sure to keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer around. Another way to be considerate is to sanitize the things you use that other people share.

Papich says contagiousness is really a five to seven day window after you're first ill

Three Inland Northwest residents dead in flu outbreak

Three Inland Northwest residents dead in flu outbreak

A deadly flu is sweeping across the United States right now, killing two people this week from Spokane County and another in Bonner County.

The Spokane Regional Health District says flu complications have killed 11 people in Washington this flu season while 135 people have been hospitalized in Spokane County, 104 more people than were hospitalized with the flu at this time last year. Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 account for 61 percent of the hospitalizations.

The intensity of the flu fluctuates from year to year depending on the strain. This year we are seeing the return of the H1N1 virus and that is sending a lot more people to the hospital.

Just before Christmas the Boyer family welcomed little Jackson into the world. The celebration, however, cut short when mom Amanda got sick.

"Really short of breath, coughing a lot then the next day, on Christmas my ears swelled up," Amanda Boyer said.

Sacred Heart admitted her with the flu, something that caught Amanda by surprise.

"The flu was just so intense it wasn't like normal I mean I've had the flu before and this was scary," said Boyer.