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Health Care

UAB Breaks Ground on Proton Therapy Center

Construction began Tuesday on a new high-tech cancer treatment facility on the campus of UAB. Proton International at UAB, the product of a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Proton International, will be a three-story facility at the intersection of 20th Street South and 4th Avenue South focusing on proton therapy. Proton […]

Infectious Strain of Flu Hits Area Hard

This year the flu is peaking early and intensely. It’s one of the most active seasons in decades, and a nasty strain is going around. Area hospitals are at capacity and pharmacies are scrambling to stock medicine. But there are things you can do.

Alabama Has Second-Highest Infant Mortality Rate in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a major report on infant mortality today. Alabama did not fare well. After Mississippi, it had the highest rate of infant death in the nation.

Thousands Of Alabama Children Could Soon Lose Health Insurance

As members of Congress plan to head home for the holidays, one piece of unfinished business is whether to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for next year. This program helps states insure kids whose parents can’t afford health insurance but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Legislation to extend the funding lapsed this […]

ACA Health Plan Enrollment Brisk Despite Federal Cuts

In Alabama, about 200,000 people have insurance through the Affordable Care Act. But this year, people have half as much time to sign up for a health plan through the ACA, known as “Obamacare.” The Trump administration also slashed the budget to advertise the website. But in a tiny office in Birmingham, "Navigators" are trying to make up for that.

Concussion Expert on Youth Sports: “Time to Make Some Decisions”

Brain injury specialist Dr. Elizabeth Sandel has been studying that organ and bad things that happen to it for more than three decades. With football season in full swing, and the recent publication of a study linking adolescent concussions with multiple sclerosis, we wanted to check in with an expert.

Gay Men Blood Donors Not as Risky as Once Thought, Researchers Say

For decades, many gay men have been prohibited from donating blood. They were considered high-risk during the AIDS epidemic back in the 1980s. As of two years ago, they can donate if they’ve abstained from sex for a year, but some researchers say that’s unrealistic and unnecessary.

As Flu Season Begins, Shots Boost Health and Bottom Lines

It’s the start of flu season, which for many people means a date with a needle. If you’ve been to a drug store lately, you may have noticed some strong encouragement to get the shot. So why the big push? Is it just about health?

Tripling Trials? UAB Cancer Center Head Pushes Big Goals

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is trying keep the disease from touching so many lives. It recently recruited oncology leader Dr. Michael Birrer to run the center. He tells WBHM’s Dan Carsen that when he was in training, top medical students did not go into oncology because cancer patients had few options, but things have changed.

Rural Hospitals Struggle, but Wilcox County’s Could Survive

Most rural hospitals in Alabama are operating at a financial loss. Since 2010, a half-dozen have closed, one of the highest closure rates in the nation. But as it turns out, a tiny hospital in the state's poorest county could buck the trend.

FAQ: How Would The Republican Health Care Bills Affect You?

This week, Republicans in Congress will try to rally votes for a bill that proposes major changes to the way Americans get health care and how much they pay. In Alabama, many thousands could be affected.

Suspected Bird Flu Poses No Risk to Food Supply, Officials Say

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Department issued a stop movement order on select poultry after three suspected cases of bird flu were discovered recently.

Community Paramedic Cuts Costs, Keeps People Out of Ambulances

It’s been said emergency responders’ jobs are 10 percent terror, 90 percent boredom. But there’s a new approach that uses their time more efficiently while improving community health and saving money. It’s called “community paramedicine."

What Can Finland Teach Alabama About Education?

Several decades ago, Finland’s education system was considered mediocre. But starting around 2001, it came to be regarded as a powerhouse, usually at or near the top of the world’s nations on internationally normed tests. How? And can those strategies work in Alabama?

AL Medical Boards Could Face Scrutiny from Federal Trade Commission

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision set a new precedent regarding federal antitrust laws and state medical agencies. The ruling means regulatory groups made up of members with private sector interests are subject to federal antitrust laws. Agencies like the Medical Association of Alabama - which is headed by several private medical practitioners - could potentially be affected.

Alabama Joining Antitrust Lawsuit Over Drug Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

Attorney General Luther Strange is joining 35 other Attorneys General in an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction. Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet to a film (that dissolves in the mouth) […]

Maternity, Marketing and Malpractice

Medicine is a major economic driver in greater Birmingham. This week, a civil court lawsuit over medical marketing and medical malpractice may have major implications for maternity care in Alabama. Brookwood Baptist Health lost in Jefferson County Circuit Court. Nick Patterson of the weekly publication Weld for Birmingham give us an overview of the case.

Medicaid Cuts Sending Shock Waves Through Alabama Medical Community

The first round of cuts to the state’s Medicaid program went into effect on August 1. Officials did away with the “primary care bump,” a payment incentive given to primary care providers in an effort to encourage them to accept Medicaid patients. The cuts are already sending shock waves through Alabama’s medical community, especially in […]

Judge Puts Temporary Hold on Abortion Restrictions

Two new Alabama laws restricting abortions were set to go into effect next month, but yesterday, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson blocked them, at least for now. In the latest chapter of a long-running legal battle, an Alabama law banning a procedure called “dilation and evacuation” and one banning clinics within 2,000 feet of K-8 […]

Advocates Searching for Ways State can Improve Child Wellbeing

According to the report, Alabama ranks 46th in the country for overall child wellbeing, an area the state continues to fall in year over year. The state ranked in the bottom ten states in every category and VOICES analyzed what it would take to improve these numbers.

Mother Suing Birmingham Clinic for Medical Negligence

Mothers-to-be put a lot of thought into how – and where – they want to give birth to their babies. And a lot of what influences that choice is how hospitals represent themselves. In Birmingham, a recent lawsuit accuses Brookwood Women’s Health of deceitful marketing and medical negligence, relating to promises they made to one […]

Amid Rising Opioid Deaths, Alabama Cracks Down on Treatment Centers

Alabama and the nation are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, with deaths from prescription pain medication and heroin overdoses on the rise. Yet, as the death toll increased, Alabama cracked down on opioid addiction treatment centers, specifically methadone clinics. Currently two companies are trying to open methadone clinics in Lee County, and they’re seeing stiff pushback from local officials.'s Amy Yurkanin recently reported on the state's struggle with methadone clinics, and she tells WBHM’s Rachel Osier Lindley more.

How to Protect Yourself Against Mosquitoes and Zika

The Zika virus has popped up in Alabama, although you can't blame mosquitoes yet. The pests spread the disease but so far the only cases in the state are from people who have traveled to Zika infected areas. But public health officials are offering tips to fight mosquitoes, which spread a number of diseases.

UAB Doctor Developing Blood Test to Predict Depression

Beth Seibels of Birmingham is 62 years old and has suffered from anxiety and depression for more than 30 years. Two years ago, things got worse. For the first time, she was feeling suicidal.

Gov. Bentley Signs Two Bills Restricting Abortion

Governor Robert Bentley has signed two bills that could make it much harder for women to get abortions in Alabama, but legal challenges loom.

Lawmakers Pass Budget, Ask Questions Later

Lawmakers approve a General Fund budget that left an $85 million hole in the state’s Medicaid program and the head of the Alabama GOP feels compelled to defend the party. The latest from Kyle Whitmire, political columnist for The Birmingham News and

Life Expectancy Study: It’s Not Just What You Make, It’s Where You Live

A study of Social Security and tax records says poor people live longer in some cities than in others, and it's not clear why.

Commentary: When it Comes to Opioids, Doctors Need to Focus on People, Not Pills

Opioids include pills like hydrocodone and morphine are often prescribed for pain. They also include drugs of abuse such as heroin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 18,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014. Public initiatives from the CDC and the White House have focused on how doctors prescribe opioid pills for pain. Last week the CDC released a guideline urging doctors to show greater care and caution when prescribing opioids.

In 2015, Prescription Opioid Overdoses Increased by 131 Percent

In Jefferson County, the number of people killed by prescription opioids more than doubled last year. That’s according to the Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner's Office 2014 annual drug report, released Wednesday.

Zika: UAB Epidemiologists Recommend Pregnant Alabamians Not Travel to South American

UAB epidemiologists are telling Alabamians there is low risk of a Zika outbreak developing in the state. The virus, which has flu-like symptoms, is currently spreading through parts of South and Central America. It’s also been associated with a rise in a rare birth defect. Dr. David Freeman of UAB is one of 12 members of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee on Zika. He says that Alabama will likely see more travel-related cases, but not home-grown.

Federal Officials OK Change to Alabama Medicaid Program

Federal officials have approved Alabama's plan to switch its Medicaid program to managed care. Governor Robert Bentley made the announcement in a Tuesday press conference. The waiver approval comes after three years of planning and negotiation with federal officials over the proposed change.

Alabama Ranks High in Nation for Number of Home Fire Deaths

Officials from an emergency response agency say Alabama ranks high among states for the number of home fires and deaths. The American Red Cross of Alabama reported that, just in January, 2016, they responded to 181 home fires from which 18 people have died. A total of 21 people have died from home fires so […]