Side Effects

Darian Benson/Side Effects Public Media

Yanna McGraw has a unique role at the Indianapolis Public Library. She’s the library’s first full-time social worker – one of about a dozen employed by libraries across the Midwest.

The library hired McGraw because it was seeing more patrons dealing with complex issues. She’s only been on the job for four months, but McGraw has already worked with library guests dealing with issues like: housing insecurity, difficulty accessing federal stimulus money and challenges finding mental health services.

It’s a late-September morning and paramedic Darren Forman steps up to a front door showered with dried corn stalks and fall-themed decor. Forman, holding a bag in one hand and a scale in the other, has arrived for his second appointment of the day.

Ashley Newkirk, 31, opens the door. Right inside the house hang spooky-themed wedding photos with her husband.

“I love fall,” Newkirk said. “We got married on Halloween. It's our favorite.”

With roughly a third of the vaccine-eligible population in the U.S. still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, public health officials have been calling on trusted community voices to address hesitancy, mistrust and misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.

The U.S. has secured more doses than the country’s COVID-19 vaccine needs. But around the world, millions of people have no access to vaccines in their home countries. And that makes some people travel thousands of miles to get a shot here in the U.S. — if they can afford it.

Drop In Childhood Immunizations Worries Pediatricians

Sep 8, 2021

In the decades he’s spent as a pediatrician, Dr. Christopher Wilhelm has never had to treat a child with rubella.

“People have just been so used to getting shots and getting their vaccines, and that’s keeping disease down of many things that were very traumatic to children," Wilhelm said.

Ransomware attacks against healthcare facilities are becoming more frequent and severe as the pandemic and workforce shortages stress hospital capabilities. That makes cyberattacks pose potential life-threatening consequences, experts say.

On Aug. 4, Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health experienced a ransomware attack, halting access to electronic medical records and requiring ambulances to bypass the city’s safety net hospital.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful on everyone, but health care workers may be affected more than anyone. Some nurses are burnt out and planning to leave the profession. Meanwhile, colleges are preparing new graduates to take their place — and deal with the pressures of the job.

Heather Hampson works at John A. Logan College in southern Illinois, helping to train the next generation of nurses.

Farah Yousry/WFYI

In the small southern Indiana city of New Albany, school board meetings are normally nothing special.

Sheila Muhammad tested positive for HIV more than 30 years ago and her life quickly changed. But as the years passed, attitudes and treatments of HIV changed.

Muhammad spoke with Side Effects Public Media's Darian Benson about the power in education and understanding of the virus. A transcript of Muhammad's comments is below.

“My name is Sheila Mohammed I'm 57 years old. I have three children and seven grandchildren and four great.

Pamela Goodwin started the Indianapolis based nonprofit Women In Motion after she recognized she was at high risk for HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. She wants to help other women — in particular women of color — in the same situation.

But Goodwin said it is hard for many Black and Brown women to tap into the resources offered by groups like hers. For some, getting tested for HIV isn’t a top priority.

Sheila Muhammad tested HIV positive in 1990, when she was just 26 years old and pregnant with her third child.

She was shocked, angry and scared. HIV wasn’t something she thought she was at risk for.

“It wasn’t something I was doing,” Muhammad said.

But her husband had tested positive while in treatment for intravenous drug use.

“It took me a long time to know that he was on the drugs,” Muhammad said. “And then I didn't know enough about it. I didn't educate myself to even know that the two went together.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for many families — and that stress can affect a child’s development, including their language and social skills.

Side Effects Public Media recently received questions from audience members through our texting group, the Midwest Checkup, about how the changes wrought by the pandemic may affect child development.

Standing in her office, Gabriela Rodriguez points out thank you notes, and keepsakes from her time as a child psychologist. She says there are not near enough mental health professionals for children to meet current demand.

At her office located at Riley Children’s Hospital, the waitlist is months long.

Rodriguez says during the pandemic, more children are seeking mental health services. But with waitlists, help is delayed at a crucial moment.

Dr. Darla Hinshaw walks up to the podium in the Indiana Senate chamber. She's there to tell lawmakers about the children she treats as a psychiatrist and the issue standing between kids and effective treatment.  

Communities across the Midwest have been devastated by the opioid epidemic. But there's still a lot of misunderstanding about how opioids affect our bodies. A new and unusual museum exhibit is tackling this issue. 

Survey: Americans Agree Health Care System Needs Fixing

Feb 6, 2020

Why Some Kids May Not Get Enough Mental Health Care

Feb 3, 2020
Photo by Fangirl/Pixabay CCO license.

Dr. Darla Hinshaw walks up to the podium in the Indiana Senate chamber. She's there to tell lawmakers about the children she treats as a psychiatrist and the issue standing between kids and effective treatment. 

She tells a story of a foster care teenager who was admitted into a facility on a Friday.

"He continued to be aggressive," Hinshaw says. "He punched walls, easily irritated into aggression." 

When his Department of Child Services caseworker was reached on Sunday, the teen started a new medication. 

As 2020 Begins, Another Rural Hospital Closes

Jan 24, 2020

Alzheimer's disease affects more than five million Americans, but the disease is still a mystery to scientists and doctors. There’s no cure. But some patients and caregivers hope to change that by joining clinical trials for new drugs. 

At the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Dr. Tom Ala is part of a clinical trial for a drug that holds promise in slowing Alzheimer’s. It's a nationwide trial involving hundreds of patients.