health | KALW


Leigh Ann Pincus Photography

Once a year, Oakland’s Kaiser Medical Center transforms into a scene out of a high school movie. For the teen patients being treated for chronic illness, hospital staff put on an event called the Pediatric Prom.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

On January 1, California became the first state in the country to extend Medicaid benefits to all low-income adults, regardless of their immigration status. Over 100,000 additional Californians are eligible for health coverage under the new law, the latest piece of legislation in the state’s ongoing push for universal health coverage.

Ariella Markowitz / KALW

If you live in West Oakland, you’re more likely to visit the emergency room for a respiratory illness than anywhere else in the Bay Area. The culprit is diesel pollution, and heavy-duty trucks are a big part of the problem. Now, truckers like Bill Aboudi are going to be part of the solution.

Alfonso Jimenez / Flikr Creative Commons

Every 15 hours, someone is taken to the San Francisco General Hospital after being hit by a car. That’s according to San Francisco Chronicle Reporter Heather Knight.

Flickr user KitAy, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped

Hey Area is where we find answers to questions you ask. One listener wanted to know, "Where is the best place in East Oakland to buy fresh produce with WIC vouchers?"

The Art Of Sound Healing

Sep 23, 2019
Truc Nguyen

Eric Cetnarski works as a sound healer in Oakland. Sound healing can be many things: from listening to our favorite songs to using our voices. 

Laura Wenus / KALW

Stories of abuse or serious neglect in nursing homes make headlines, but patients and consumer advocates are trying to bring attention to overarching issues and push for a better system.

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocated for Nursing Home Reform, discusses the problems in the nursing care industry.

Laura Wenus / KALW

As California ages, the demand for nursing home beds is exceeding the supply. Advocates say it is especially difficult for seniors who need long-term care because our health care system incentivizes providers to favor short-term patients.

Holly J. McDede / KALW

Contra Costa County jail officials are investigating a recent in custody death at the Martinez Detention Facility earlier this month. That inmate is the third person to die inside the jail so far this year.

Reimagining Dementia With Dr. Tia Powell

Jul 24, 2019


On this edition of Your Call, Dr. Tia Powell joins us to discuss her new book, Dementia Reimagined: Building a Life of Joy and Dignity from Beginning to End. More than five million people in the US have dementia. As 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, that number will likely rise.

Hana Baba

Oakland resident Tigisti Weldeab was a child when she fled the Eritrean-Ethiopian war with her mom. They lived in refugee camps for years. During that time, her mom made a living by selling injera- their traditional flatbread. A decade later, they were resettled in the US.

  On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’ll rebroadcast our conversation with Professor Marion Nestle, author of Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat. 

George Nikitin / AP Images

The First Offender Prostitution Program is like traffic school, except the goal is to educate people who have been arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

End-of-life doulas and the art of dying well

Jun 13, 2019
Credit: Leah Fasten

You’ve probably heard of a birth doula – someone whose job it is to coach mothers through childbirth. Our next story is about a different kind of doula – an end of life doula. Their role is to provide emotional support to dying people and their families.

Kristi Coale / KALW

People with diabetes depend on insulin to survive, but the price has tripled in the last decade. Studies show some patients are skipping doses as a result. Given these realities, some Oakland citizen scientists are cooking up their own solutions.

JoAnn DeLuna / KALW

In part one of this two-part series, we heard a the history of how sex education has evolved in California. Now, we’re looking to the future, and, of course, it involves tech. Adults who missed out on quality sexual education are turning to apps to help explore and learn about sex. A few Bay Area women are the brains behind these sexual wellness startups.

The history of California's sexual education

May 29, 2019
The People Speak! / Creative Commons, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

According to a Harvard study, more than 40 percent of parents didn’t have “the sex talk” with their kids. But California — especially San Francisco — is leading the way in making sure kids get the sex education they need. Things weren’t always this way.

Christine Nguyen / KALW

Many people don’t recognize dementia, and not recognizing it can lead to death. Most caregivers are unprepared to manage dementia in their own family. And, for many ethnic minorities, such as Vietnamese, there is little support.

Creative Commons, used under CC BY 4.0

Professor of Journalism Elena Conis wrote a book on the history of vaccines. She says, since we’ve had vaccinations in this country, we’ve had opposition to them. 

Lars Hammers (CC BY-NC-2.0)

Five Bay Area counties have won millions of dollars in a lead paint lawsuit, but now they say, paint companies are doing everything they can to prevent them from getting it.

Pria Mahadevan / KALW

San Francisco voters banned all flavored tobacco sales last June, and full enforcement of that law began on January 1st. But what happens when small businesses have to pull these products off their shelves, and how is the city helping with the transition?

Sara Nora Koust / KALW

Elsa Guerra has experienced several serious health scares. But it never stopped her from taking care of others. Today, she’s a great grandmother, and teaches Bay Area residents about nutrition for the non-profit 18 Reasons, working to empower low-income earners through cooking cheap, nutritious, and delicious food.

Pumping up bodies and spirits at God's Gym

Feb 5, 2019

The training floor of God’s Gym is definitely old school – one room crammed with barbells, benches, and ancient weight machines.

Courtesty of Center for Youth Wellness

Govenor Gavin Newsom early last week announced a new position of state surgeon general. And it’s pretty much custom made for Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the high-profile San Francisco pediatrician he appointed to fill it.  

Marissa Ortega-Welch / KALW

Operation pest patrol, Part II: An insect spreading a deadly citrus disease threatens to wipe out California’s commercial citrus industry. But environmentalists say, we’ve seen this headline before and what it really means is using a whole lot of pesticides.


On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, Professor Marion Nestle joins us to discuss her latest book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Philosophy Talk: The Science of Happiness

Nov 16, 2018

How could science help us understand our own happiness?

For Asians, Latinos, and other ethnic minorities, the end of life presents unique challenges. Language barriers and cultural traditions can often inhibit access to hospice, pain management, and comfort care.

Courtesy of Health Policy Research Scholars

Living with regular racial discrimination is a reality for many people. It can affect them psychologically, and even lead to depression. Now, a new study out of UC Berkeley found that those effects can also be physical.