Health Care


CRANE, Texas — An outbreak of chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, has been reported at a small West Texas high school.

KOSA-TV of Odessa and Midland reports the Crane Independent School District sent a letter last week to parents of Crane High School students informing them that 20 cases of chlamydia had been confirmed at the school. Crane High School has an enrollment of about 300 students.

State health officials had notified the district of a significant number of chlamydia cases reported in Crane County and adjacent Upton County. District officials plan meet with the school’s advisory committee of teachers, parents and school officials to discuss the situation Monday.

OSCEOLA, Mo. — When 18-month-old Edith Gonzalez choked on a grape in August 2013, her parents rushed to Shelby Regional Medical Center in their hometown of Center, Texas, unaware that the hospital had closed several weeks earlier. Their daughter was dead by the time an ambulance had taken her to the next nearest hospital, more than 45 minutes later.

After 45 years of providing health care in rural western Missouri, the Sac-Osage Hospital is being sold piece by piece. Ceiling tiles are going for 25 cents, the room doors for an average of less than $4 each, the patient beds for $250 apiece. Soon, the remnants of the hospital that long symbolized the lifeblood of Osceola, population 923, will be torn to the ground.

Sac-Osage is one of a growing number of rural U.S. hospitals closing their doors, citing a complex combination of changing demographics, medical practices, management decisions and federal policies that have put more financial pressure on facilities that sometimes average only a few in-patients a day.

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA

-- It’s been more than four years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. More than 11 million people have signed up for health insurance, but there are still Latinos in Texas who are uninsured.

-- In New Mexico, another healthcare dilemma — a behavioral health provider will end its programs just two years after opening, leaving many criminal offenders without services.

It seems like every firefighter you ask can rattle off examples of 911 calls that didn't come even close to being life-threatening.

"A spider bite that's two or three weeks old," says Jeff Jacobs. "A headache, or a laceration," says Ashley Histand.

Alberto Vela remembers another call from a woman who said, "This medicine's not working; now you need to take me to the hospital so I can get a different medication."

Tyler Hooper describes those calls they shouldn't be getting as "anything from simple colds to toothaches, stubbed toes to paper cuts."