Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The brainchild of University of Tennessee associate professor Dr. Carole Myers, HealthConnections will bring the often-abstract world of health care, coverage and policy to a human level. What is access? How do marketplaces work? What's the future of health insurance? Dr. Myers and WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth will sort through these issues and more, all to give you a toolbox for understanding what you hear on the news, or to separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.

Knox County helps local health care providers absorb the costs of treating 1,100 of the county's poorest residents. The indigent care program was adopted about three decades ago. The program's budget reached a high-water mark in 2007 and has been pared back since. This spring, Knox County's health department asked for a funding boost (to $4.5 million - a $200,000 increase). County mayor Glenn Jacobs had different plans.

On previous editions of HealthConnections, we've talked about the effect opioid abuse has on communities and individuals. In this edition of the show, we talk about treatment. Dr. Sharon Davis, of the University of Tennessee College of Nursing, is an expert on addiction. She discusses addiction from a physiological perspective, and outlines emergency and long-term treatment options. Dr. Davis will also tell us why many Tennessee communities can't provide some of the robust treatments that are available.

There's much more to school nursing than giving shots and applying band-aids. School nurses are increasingly called upon to provide basic and detailed care for students, respond to emergencies and even act as social workers. As students across the state head back to the classroom, we examine the changing role of the school nurse.

At a certain point, Karen Pershing says, the public gets tired of hearing medical and governmental leaders talk about opioid addiction, and want to know what's being done about it.

Health and homelessness are closely related. People with chronic, expensive health issues are more susceptible to becoming homeless. And people who are homeless typically have greater risks to their health and well-being. In this edition of HealthConnections, we offer an overview of those relationships and the demographics of homelessness in Knox County.

The Affordable Care Act is nearly a decade old. In its lifetime, the expansive health care law has been challenged, altered, nipped and tucked, and spared the ultimate fate of dissolution. At least for now. A lawsuit challenging the entire ACA is making its way through the federal court system, and President Trump has promised a brand-new plan, though no specifics have been revealed.

According to the American Heart Association, 475,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest. Many of those cases occur in homes, at offices, or in public spaces - in other words, outside the immediate reach of trained medical personnel.

What, then, can you do until help arrives? Bystander CPR is an option. When done properly, CPR can help save someone's life, or prevent serious brain damage. But CPR alone is unlikely to restore the heart's normal functions. For that, defibrillation must be employed.

You've heard it for years: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." For decades, breakfast has been presented as the keystone in daily activity, cognitive function, energy and overall health. Your parents probably insisted you eat something before heading off to school. Commercials implore kids and adults to chow down for better grades and more pep through the day.

But dietician and psychologist Hollie Raynor says the claims about breakfast's benefits aren't rock-solid.

At the core of health care, medical professionals are human beings caring for other human beings. Throughout a person’s experience with health care, they interact with many people, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and housekeeping staff. Those points of contact can shape the patient's own feelings and medical outcomes. Today, people in medicine are working to improve the patient experience, which includes changing the doctor-patient interaction to get better results.

Obesity rates in Tennessee are high - higher than national averages, in fact. And that extends to demographic breakdowns, too. One in three men in Tennessee is considered obese. The same is true for women. Tennessee children are considered the heaviest in the nation.

Describing the parameters of the problem is a start, but not the solution. The University of Tennessee's Dr. Carole Myers says addressing obesity requires multiple steps and multiple players, from individuals, to social groups, to companies, and even governments.