Bridges to Health

Health--it's what we all have in common:  whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health.  "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.

Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Dank Depot / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries may eventually be permitted to sell the product in plant form for vaping, after a vote by the state's medical marijuana advisory board recommended a change in the regulations. 

SUBCONSCI PRODUCTIONS / Flickr

Members of Pittsburgh's immigrant and refugee communities are dealing with a variety of issues that can make health care treatments challenging, according to a forum on Thursday hosted by Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Screenshot / Google Maps

A new University of Pittsburgh study asks whether a revenue model set to be introduced in six rural Pennsylvania hospitals next year can both reduce patient admissions and increase profits.

The program is expected to be implemented in 30 rural hospitals by 2023. Data from Pennsylvania's Department of Health Innovation shows that in 2015, 47 percent of all rural hospitals in Pennsylvania had negative operating profit margins

John Zylka / Excela Health

Your doctor probably has a good idea of your medical history. But how well do they know you, as a person?

Ketki Jadhav / Wabbit

A mobile game prototyped by Carnegie Mellon University students recently finished as a finalist in a National Geographic competition. The augmented reality app is designed to help patients in stroke recovery complete physical therapy tasks.

SalFalko / Flickr

Social Security numbers are used for just about everything--financial records, medical information, legal documents.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Republican Rick Saccone conceded defeat to Democrat Conor Lamb on Wednesday night in a closely watched special election in Pennsylvania, more than a week after the end of a remarkable race that has shaken GOP confidence ahead of the November midterm elections.

Subconsci Productions / Flickr

People who retire early may be tempted to purchase so-called “skinny” health insurance plans before Medicare kicks in because they’re less expensive, but Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman told an AARP audience in Penn Hills on Wednesday that they should be careful when considering this type of insurance, as it’s not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Alex and Jess Welker sat on a plush tan couch in their McCandless home and recounted their first date. The two tell the story together, going back and forth with details of their earliest interaction.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a Saturday afternoon, a group of about 25 people, ranging from teenagers to seniors, were gathered at the Steel City Improv Theatre in Shadyside for a workshop. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At the northeast corner of US Route 30 and Agnew Road in Westmoreland County, there’s a sloping, nine-acre lot of mostly gravel and overgrown brush.

Former CEO Indicted In Mega-Mansion Tax Fraud Scheme

Feb 14, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

A former Pennsylvania health services company executive accused of claiming his luxury cars and 39,000-square-foot mansion as business expenses has been charged with tax fraud, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Joseph Nocito Sr. listed the millions of dollars it cost to build a mega-mansion near Pittsburgh he called "Villa Noci," as well as payments for a personal butler and a Jaguar, Maserati and Rolls Royce as corporate business expenses, authorities said.

FracTracker Alliance

Gov. Tom Wolf drew support from both environmentalists and energy insiders when he promised to ease the state's permit application backlog and better enforce regulations by hiring 35 more Department of Environmental Protection inspectors.

Jessica Hill / AP

Two dental clinics in northern Pennsylvania have reduced hours due to the instability of federal funding.

Keystone Rural Health Consortia operates the clinics in Elk and Cameron counties. The Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers said KRHC is one of 50 community health centers in the state.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Nicole Steele, clad in a face mask and thin plastic protective cover over her shirt, strung a ukulele while 14-year-old Yaheim Young played alongside her. The two had a jam session on the ninth floor of the UPMC Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Highmark’s Medicare costumers can continue receiving in-network care from nine UPMC hospitals until the end of 2019, due to a Monday ruling by Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Parents of 180,000 children across Pennsylvania, including 14,000 kids in Allegheny County, are breathing sighs of relief now that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has been renewed for six years.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

No one masters a skill without mistakes, but when you’re a health care provider, screw ups can be deadly. 

In 2016, the National Academy of Sciences found that every year up to 30,000 civilian and military deaths of trauma patients could be prevented if the injured people had received optimal care.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Health care providers enter into dozens of contracts with outside companies, like medical record disposal or storage entities, that have access to patients’ medical information.

Dan Mulholland, senior partner at the health law firm Horty Springer, said these contracts come and go so frequently that they're not always reviewed by a lawyer because of cost and time constraints. But even tiny errors in the documents can create huge liabilities if patient information is mishandled. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Shark Snider cut out of preschool early for an appointment with his pediatrician, Dr. Jonathan Weinkle of Squirrel Hill Health Center. The 3-year-old’s snoring had gotten worse, and his parents were worried it could be a symptom of something bigger.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

This year, Avonworth High School students arrived at their first period, for the most part, after sunrise.

The district recently shifted its first period start time from 7:15 to 8 a.m., and Superintendent Thomas Ralston said his students now pass what he calls "the eye test."

“You can see that kids are coming to school, and they’re awake. They’re coming in when it’s light outside,” he said. “Our faculty have reported that kids are more attentive in class … and faculty feel more prepared.”

Crazypaco / Wikimedia

Highmark health insurance has reached a five-year agreement with UPMC to allow its customers to receive care from select UPMC locations at in-network rates.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

It’s been a eventful news year in the Steel City, from hospital booms to repeated flush and boil orders to President Trump's impact on Pennsylvania.

Ryan Kang / AP

Stephen Arch, a 60-year-old filmmaker from Moon Township, is prescribed the drug Klonopin for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he said stems from childhood trauma.

Carlos Osorio / AP

Allegheny County begins mandatory blood testing for lead in small children Jan. 1. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Congress has adjourned for the year without fully finishing its spending plan—holding off a government shutdown by passing a few months of stopgap funding.

It includes some money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program—something the deadlock had called into serious question.

But Pennsylvania officials say that doesn’t help much.

In the days leading up to the stopgap agreement, they had warned the program would have to end sometime early next year if federal lawmakers didn’t act.

The agreement hands down $3 billion to states.

Matt Rourke / AP

Fights over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has states trying to figure out how long their programs can hold out without getting more money.

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