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Sound smart at parties: The health news you missed this week

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 14, 2013

As you head out to enjoy your Saturday evening, take a quick glance at what happened this past week.

1. Fewer mental health beds, coming soon in OKC

Deaconess Hospital is closing its Bethany hospital, which had almost 60 psychiatric and geriatric behavioral health beds.

Oklahoma’s mental health commissioner Terri White had some choice words to say about it:

“The department is very concerned about loss of any psychiatric beds, particularly this number of beds, given that we already have an issue where law enforcement is driving hundreds of miles trying to find someone a psychiatric bed,” White said. “The system is already overloaded.”

And Sheriff John Whetsel dubbed it a “horrible decision”:

“I know there’s a bottom line for their shareholders,” Whetsel said. “But I’m more concerned about the bottom line for law enforcement, the safety of our community and the safety of those who have mental health issues.”

Story: With hospital’s closure, Oklahoma County will have fewer psychiatric beds

Long read: “Gray Matters”: A look at Oklahoma’s commitment laws

2. More people are enrolling in health insurance plans

It looks like might be working now. Maybe?

So far, 1,673 Oklahomans have enrolled in health insurance plans that will begin Jan. 1. And 21,261 Oklahomans have finished their applications for coverage and are eligible to enroll in a plan through the marketplace.

The deadline to sign up if you want your coverage to start Jan. 1 is Dec. 23.

Story: Obamacare enrollment climbs in Oklahoma

Government full report: Health insurance marketplace: December enrollment report

Health insurance marketplace 101:  Interactive: Understanding the health insurance marketplace

3. Oklahoma still ranks in the bottom 10 for health

Oklahoma ranks No. 44 in overall health, according to a report released this past week.

Oklahoma has long had some of the worst health statistics in the nation. Our state ranks poorly for its high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a list of other things.

However, Oklahoma did see improvement in the number of adults who smoke, the number of people who die from heart disease and the number of people hospitalized for preventable reasons.

Story: Oklahoma ranks No. 44 in overall health

Report: Full report on Oklahoma’s ranking

And another report: 2013 rankings on each state

4. A virus that’s difficult to pronounce has made its way to the Western Hemisphere

The World Health Organization announced this week that a viral disease known as Chikungunya fever has made its way to the Western Hemisphere.

NPR reports that before the current outbreak in the Caribbean, chikungunya was found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and southern Europe.

Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Add this to the list of reasons to hate mosquitoes.

Quick read: A Nasty Fever Called Chikungunya Hits Close To Home

CDC: Chikungunya fever 

World Health Organization: Chikungunya in the French part of the Caribbean isle of Saint Martin

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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