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Think Out Loud

Oregon Hospital Rankings

The August issue of Consumer Reports has ranked Salem Hospital as the safest hospital in Oregon. The hospital was given a composite score of 63 out of 100 in six categories that measured everything from radiation use to mortality rates. The hospital shined particularly when it came to infection-prevention across departments.  Dr. John Santas, the director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, told us Oregon hospitals on average did better than hospitals nationally. Hospitals across the country had an average score of 49. But he also says hospitals in Oregon and around the country have a lot of work to do when it comes to communicating with patients about new medicaitons and discharge policies.  He attributes Oregon's above-average score in part to the state's laws requiring hospitals to be transparent about infection rates and other data. 

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Our Town: Roseburg

Roseburg, Oregon is a city of 21,790 in the southwestern part of the state. It's within 100 miles of three of the state's national forests, which is why its history is so closely entwined with the that of the timber industry. After World War II, Roseburg was known as the Timber Capitol of the Nation, due to the abundance of Douglas Fir lumber produced in and around the small city. The spike in demand for housing, and lumber to build it, also made way for the philanthropy that still continues in Roseburg today. Family-owned timber companies still employ many Roseburg residents, but these businesses are no longer the backbone of the community they once were. The recession has been particularly rough for the industry, especially due to the decline in home-building. The choices students are making about what to study at Umpqua Community College (UCC) are a good indicator of what's next for this town. Healthcare, particularly nursing, is a popular field and there's a brand new addition to the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at UCC. The program offers a one-year certificate and an associate's degree. Both paths teach students how to cultivate grapes and how to make them into wine. The local wine industry has experienced a recent growth spurt, but it also has a rich history in the region, which has always been home to fertile farmland. We've put together a companion website for the Our Town series. Head over there to check out our interactive map,  which includes interviews and photographs of the people and places of Roseburg. Here are some photos from our live show at Joe Monkey:

Think Out Loud

Candidate Conversation: 5th District

Our series of Candidate Conversations continues with a look at Oregon's 5th Congressional District, which stretches from the central coast, through Salem and the southern part of Portland, to Mt. Hood. Like a lot of people whose names are on the November ballot, incumbent Kurt Schrader and his opponent, Scott Bruun have focused their campaigns heavily on economic issues. Healthcare and the issue of privatizing Social Security have also come up quite a bit. Bruun, a Republican, emphasizes his experience in the Oregon Legislature, while Democrat Schrader has played up his accomplishments as a freshman Congressman. The race has gotten some national attention as a close race that could tip the scales in the House. While the election is likely to break down along party lines, both candidates have some level of bipartisan appeal.

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Day After the Debate

Oregon candidates for governor John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley met September 30 in what may well be their only debate before Election Day. They were asked about their different takes on economic issues, tax policy and the environment as well as the experience they each bring to the table. Some of the questions were submitted by the public. Republican Chris Dudley is an investment adviser, and a former center for the Portland Trail Blazers. He currently heads a foundation for children with diabetes. Democrat John Kitzhaber is a medical doctor, who served two previous terms as Oregon's governor from 1995-2003 and currently leads a healthcare advocacy organization. A poll over the summer showed the two candidates neck and neck. A recent poll still reflects a close race, with Dudley pulling ahead by a few points.

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RX: Containing Costs

As often happens, we had a spirited conversation in the studio after a show last week. We'd been talking about the signing of the healthcare reform bill with John Evans, an anesthesiologist and the president-elect of the Oregon Medical Association, and Pam Mariea-Nason, the director of health policy and community engagement for CareOregon. John Evans was worried about a provision in the new law that will give a presidentially appointed board the ability to decide what will — and won't — be covered by Medicare. He and Mariea-Nason both spoke approvingly of Oregon's own historic efforts at healthcare prioritization and, more broadly, its culture of cost containment And they both agreed that — somehow — the cost of healthcare has to be brought under control. But they are not at all sure that the new law will do that. In short, they gave us the ingredients for another hour of radio.

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RX: Health Care by Christmas?

As the Senate races a midwestern storm to pass sweeping healthcare overhaul legislation by Thursday morning, we're taking an hour to look at what many months of wrangling and last-minute deal-making will mean for the our healthcare system. Whether you see this bill as a lump of Christmas coal or a progressive diamond, there are still plenty of outstanding questions. For example: after the Senate and House versions are reconciled, what will the final bill look like? Will it have a public option? Will the insurance exchange be set up on the state or federal level? How will funding for abortion be handled?

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Oregon Braces For Open Enrollment With Federal Website

Open enrollment begins November 15. That's when Oregonians who previously enrolled in a private plan using Cover Oregon must re-enroll via

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How To Coordinate Care

When he's asked to explain how coordinated care organizations (CCOs) work, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has a favorite hypothetical example he likes to bring up. The example goes like this: There's a 92-year-old woman with well-managed congestive heart failure who lives in an un-air-conditioned apartment. A heat wave would be enough of a strain on her system to send her to the emergency room, which would cost a lot of money. Under the new CCO system, Kitzhaber argues, a community health worker would be checking in on this hypothetical nonagenarian and would prevent the expensive emergency room visit by providing her with an air-conditioner. Kitzhaber mentioned this example just last month when we interviewed him at the City Club of Portland and a few weeks later when he spoke to the New York Times. He also used it in a 2011 speech on health care reform and when he was on the campaign trail in 2010. This story left us wondering: Who exactly pays for the air-conditioner? Who decides it's medically necessary? And what about the doctors at the emergency room who never see this patient — how do they get paid under this new system focused on preventative care?

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Are Violent Video Games Related to Violence in Real Life?

In the wake of the recent shootings at the Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary School, we're looking into some of the potential ways to prevent such tragedies in the future. We've discussed security in schools, mental health resources for parents and kids, gun laws and, most recently, mental health care available to "transition age youth." Next we will explore whether or not there is a relationship between violent video games and violence in the real world. As the national conversation around gun violence progresses, video games have been cited as a contributing factor. But while some are blaming violent video games, others assert that there is no link between playing violent games and actually being violent. And while there seems to be agreement that violent behaviors are rarely spurred by a single factor, the role and weight of each factor, including violent video games, is still being debated.

Think Out Loud

Health Care Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Since the arguments three months ago, there has been much speculation about how the ruling could turn out and what that would mean for ordinary Americans as well as presidential candidates. The ruling is far from simple, but the individual mandate that was at the heart of the challenge to the law, has been upheld. The court ruled that the requiring individuals to purchase healthcare or pay a penalty fine is constitutional if it is treated as a tax.

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Other Results


Healthcare expert Katy Votava is the author of "Making the Most of Medicare,"

Psychiatry: Past, Present and Future

Herbert Pardes, M.D., a longtime leader in psychiatry and healthcare, discusses psychiatry.

President Trump's Address To Congress

President Trump's address to Congress. We'll unpack the speech and look at Trump's struggle to revamp American healthcare.

Health | News | local

Trump Wants To End Obama Era Small Business Health Insurance Program

The Trump administration announced Monday it wants small businesses to stop buying health insurance on the federal exchange

Week In The News: Global Cyber Attacks, Health Care, Travel Ban

GOP healthcare plans on hold, cyberattacks go global, a partial travel ban is on. Our weekly news round table goes behind the headlines.


America's evolving healthcare system is explored and patients, doctors and experts are interviewed.


Personal stories of proactive patients taking greater ownership over their healthcare are shared. .

Health | News

The Lund Report: Dr. Robert Dannenhoffer Could Become Next OHA Leader

Everyone’s lips were sealed about who’ll be tapped as the next director of the Oregon Health Authority when 1,300 people gathered at the Oregon Convention Center on Wednesday for a conference on improving healthcare innovation.


Cascadia Gets Last-Minute Help

Local and state governments worked out a deal Thursday morning to keep Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in business. At least for another two weeks.


Measure 50 Supporters Want To Send Message To Tobacco Companies

As the November election approaches, Oregon’s airwaves are filling up with commercials. You might have already noticed ads for and against Measure 50. It aims to pay for the healthcare of kids and poorer Oregonians by increasing taxes on cigarettes -- by 85 cents a pack.

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