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Presidential Order Is Good News For Kidney Recipients

On today’s program: How an executive order regarding kidney disease is affecting Pittsburgh transplant programs; the dean of Pitt's School of Law and former SCOTUS clerk reflects on the legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens; what it takes to get formerly incarcerated men back to work in Homewood; Democratic state Sen. Jay Costa explains his next legislative priorities; and WESA remembers Allegheny County elections chief Mark Wolosik.

New executive order could help Pittsburghers experiencing renal failure
(0:00 – 11:21)

President Trump's executive order aimed at reducing end-stage kidney disease is long overdue, according to Dr. Amit Tevar, director of UPMC’s kidney and pancreas transplant program. The order charges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop policies that reduce the number of patients developing kidney failure by 25%; have more Americans receive dialysis at home; and make more kidneys available for transplant.

“We’ve never really had such an overwhelming, national executive order to actually improve a system for a group of patients that badly needs better care,” he says. 

Tevar says his list of would-be recipients usually represents about 1,000 people, with another 350 on standby, but that only about 200 transplants occur per year – most on people already undergoing dialysis.  Tevar says he hopes Presidential backing will help patients get transplants earlier, before they begin to show the symptoms of end-stage renal failure.

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens remembered
(12:23 – 17:28)

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died Tuesday at a hospital in Florida at the age of 99. Over his 34-year tenure, his opinions transformed American law. University of Pittsburgh School of Law dean Amy Wildermuth clerked for Stevens from 2002 to 2003 and remained close with him after her time in D.C. She remembers his legacy of kindness, humility and public service. 

Homewood Bound: Workforce programs help former inmates bounce back
(17:30 – 24:32)

Former inmates can face a lot of workplace barriers, and the jobs they do get may have long hours and few benefits. But some programs in Homewood are designed to meet those challenges. As part of 90.5 WESA's series Homewood Bound, reporter An-Li Herring follows three men who've reentered the workforce and those who are working to help them.

State Dem. leader breaks down fall priorities in Harrisburg
(24:35 – 33:54)

The state legislature is off for the summer, but state Sen. Democratic leader Jay Costa is already thinking about next fall’s legislative priorities. Higher than anticipated revenues helped lawmakers pass a budget faster than in previous years and allowed for contributions to the state's rainy day fund. 

Costa says that while he was disappointed Gov. Tom Wolf did not veto the elimination of Pennsylvania’s cash assistance program, he hopes to revisit the program this fall along with another proposal to increase the state's comparatively minimum wage. He says a child sexual abuse bill and investments in communities will also be among his fall 2019 priorities.

Long-time Allegheny County elections chief dies just 10 months into retirement
(33:58 – 39:00)

Mark Wolosik was critically involved in thousands of local, state and federal elections across Pennsylvania over the course of his 48-year career in the Allegheny County elections office, though few knew his name. He died unexpectedly on Sunday at age 65. His anonymity was a testament to the skill and integrity he brought to the job, says WESA’s Chris Potter. He reflects on Wolosik’s life and career.  

Wolosik is survived by his wife, Cheryl; a stepson, Justin; and a step-grandson. A memorial service will be held at an undetermined date.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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