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Kaiser Health News

Wildfire smoke drives people in low-vaccinated areas indoors, raising outbreak fears

Smoke and unrelenting heat have driven people to seek refuge at libraries, movie theaters, museums and other indoor venues


Two new medical schools are opening in Montana. But does the western U.S. really need them?

Rocky Vista University, which has a campus in Colorado, is one of two organizations planning new Montana medical schools. People who provide hands-on experiences for students worry the state doesn't have enough clinical opportunities to support the flood of new students.


Rural ambulance services in mountain communities are in jeopardy as volunteers age and expenses mount

In rural America, it’s increasingly difficult for ambulance services to respond to emergencies. One factor is that emergency medical services are struggling to find young volunteers to replace retiring EMTs


How a rural Colorado town without a pharmacy is crowdsourcing to get meds

With no local access to prescription drugs, Walden residents are taking advantage of anyone’s trip to bigger cities to pick up medications for the rest of the town


Colorado farmworkers could get easier access to medical care under new “bill of rights”

Agricultural workers living in employer-owned housing can have trouble getting health care. It’s a symptom of bigger gaps in worker protections that the pandemic spotlighted, say proponents of a newly passed Colorado bill for farmworker rights.


Colorado lawmakers wage multifront assault on high drug costs

While none of the efforts alone would result in broad-based, deep cuts, state officials estimate the combined impact of the various measures could save Coloradans between 20% and 40% in out-of-pocket costs


Colorado will pay hospitals to close expensive free-standing ERs

The state wants some of the 34 hospital-owned free-standing ERs converted to other purposes, such as providing primary care or mental health services.


Two-thirds of farmers said the pandemic impacted their mental health. But providers are underfunded and underequipped.

The stigma of acknowledging the need for mental health care can prevent people from seeking it.


Rural Americans in pharmacy deserts hurting for COVID vaccines

111 rural counties, mostly between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, have no pharmacy that can give the vaccines. But counties in Colorado pharmacy deserts still are getting vaccines to residents.


Montana’s health policy MVP takes her playbook on the road to Colorado

Marilyn Bartlett, credited with saving Montana’s state employee health plan millions of dollars, is a busy consultant now, as states, counties and big businesses try to use her playbook to bring down hospital costs.


As demand for mental health care spikes in the West, budget ax is set to strike

Some cuts to Colorado's mental health budgets have been restored, but providers still are worried.


Colorado eases license rules to let foreign-trained health workers help during coronavirus

Early on Colorado eased some licensing requirement in anticipation of a worker shortage. Through mid-December, 36 foreign-trained doctors sought temporary licenses, although only one met all the criteria.


At risk of extinction, black-footed ferrets in Colorado get experimental COVID vaccine

For the newly vaccinated ferrets, the main risk is to the animals themselves. They’re part of a captive population at the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center outside Fort Collins where there have been no cases of COVID-19 to date


Colorado ski resorts work to stay open as COVID cases snowball

The skiing itself doesn’t feel much different during the pandemic. But “the après ski scene is just gone,” one Telluride visitor said.


One in 8 Americans lives in a community that has lost its local public health department leader during the pandemic.

181 public health employees, including at least 14 in Colorado, have left jobs as the typically invisible army charged with preventing the spread of infectious diseases has become a public punching bag.


Health care magnate Kent Thiry wants to fix democracy, starting in Colorado

Former DaVita CEO Kent Thiry has given $5.9 million to support ballot measures since 2011. All of them won.

Politics and Government

Contact tracing in Colorado immigrant communities is most effective with voices from within

Long-standing health care disparities, job insecurity, immigration status, language barriers and a profound distrust of government all complicate the already tricky task

$8,000 a week drawing COVID nurses from Colorado, other states to hard-hit areas

Dire need for staff in places like Fargo, North Dakota, has created a new class of traveling nurses


In Colorado and across the U.S., people are proving to be the weakest link for coronavirus exposure apps

Data from early-adopter governments suggests even those who download the app and use it might not follow directions at the most critical juncture


Mask-wearing mandates in Colorado, other states leave big gaps in protection

As new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge, many public health experts wonder whether it’s time to move beyond the anything-goes approach toward more standardization and higher-quality masks

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