Douglas rattles around a collection of glass jars in the storage closet of his Denver apartment. They’re filled with a small grain, like barley, and covered in a soft white fungus — a mushroom spawn. Soon, he’ll transplant it in large plastic bins filled nutrients like dried manure and coconut fiber.

Over the course of two weeks, mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient, will sprout.

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.

Nationwide, the use of glyphosate on crops increased from 13.9 million pounds in 1992 to 287 million pounds in 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey.

By The Numbers: Glyphosate Use In The Midwest For Corn, Soybeans

Jun 12, 2019

Glyphosate is the most-used pesticide on U.S. crops, an estimated 287 million pounds in 2016, according to an analysis by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Midwest saw 65 percent of the nation’s total agriculture glyphosate use on crops, a 12-state territory that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the legal dispute over the last existing abortion clinic in Missouri may have already hindered access to abortion.

The license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been in jeopardy for months as state officials delayed action on its application. To compel the state to act, Planned Parenthood took state officials to court.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer has kept the license in effect while the arguments play out in court. But abortion rights advocates say the legal process as well as Missouri’s increasingly stringent abortion regulations could discourage doctors from providing the procedure in the future.

Stay Safe During Flooding

Jun 11, 2019
Jackson County EMA

As floodwaters threaten southern Illinois towns, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency wants people to stay safe.

Deputy Coordinator Orval Rowe offered some advice for residents.

"Turn around, don't drown," he said, referring to drivers. Don't try to drive on closed roads and even if the road is still open, don't attempt to drive through water. It's impossible to tell how deep water is or what the condition of the road underneath is like.

Drivers should also be aware that all the levees are closed and anyone attempting to drive on them will be fined. 

E-cigarette Popularity Surges In Rural Classrooms

Jun 10, 2019

North Newton Junior/Senior High lies in the Northwest corner of Indiana, in a county home to more dairy cows than people.

But students have no problem getting e-cigarettes in all shapes and sizes. Some look like pens, others like computer thumb drives.

WSIU's  "The Listening Project" chronicles the history of our region by connecting people with place through their stories.

Abortion Rights Bill Heading To Gov

Jun 1, 2019

Legislation meant to protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade is overturned is headed to the governor’s desk.

After a long and unusually emotional debate in the Illinois House Tuesday, lawmakers approved legislation aimed at keeping abortion legal in Illinois, regardless of what happens in other states or Washington, D.C.

Stay Away from Homemade Sunscreen

May 27, 2019
chezbeate / Pixabay

If you've seen posts online advertising natural, homemade sunscreen be cautious. A study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hopsital found these don't live up to their promises.

The study analzyed popular pins on Pinterest about natural sunscreen. It found 95% of the pins positively portrayed DIY sunscreen and 68% recommend recipes.  But those recipes offer insufficient UV radiation protection, according to the study authors.

Don't Forget the Sunscreen This Summer

May 24, 2019
A bottle of sunscreen and a large hat.
MonikaP / Pixabay

Before you head out to celebrate Memorial Day, remember to pack your sunscreen. 

Dr. Kelli Web, a reconstructive surgeon at Southern Illinois Healthcare, works with skin cancer patients. She said sunblock is essential to preventing skin cancer for yourself and your family, especially children.

"Studies show it's the sun damage you have when you're ten years old that causes those changes to your skin," she said.

Illinois lawmakers have agreed to make a change to the state's minor consent law for health care services. The current statute allows children 12 and up access to diagnosis and treatment options for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, but not preventative healthcare or counseling. A proposal, that now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk, would ensure youth also have access to preventions options without parental consent.  

State Representative Kelly Cassidy said Thursday that she’s received a pledge from House Speaker Mike Madigan that her expansive abortion legislative will be heard.

That bill would lift provisions that would make performing abortions illegal if Roe. V. Wade is overturned. The bill would also require private insurers to cover abortion if they already cover pregnancy-related expenses.

The Illinois legislature has approved a measure that would allow public school nurses to provide the life-saving medication glucagon to diabetic students in emergency situations.

As we recently reported, Jennifer Jacobs saved a 7th grader who was experiencing a severe hypoglycemic episode by using another student's supply of glucagon — a hormone that triggers the body to release stored glucose.

How Many Patients Should a Nurse Care For?

May 17, 2019
A nurse caring for a baby in an incubator
travisdmchenry/Pixabay / Pixabay

Several Illinois lawmakers want to improve patient outcomes through legislation that would limit the number of people nurses can care for at any given time

The Illinois Nursing Association said the bill will improve results for both  patients and nurses who are overworked.

Alice Johnson, the executive director for INA, said that the more patients nurses have, the less likely they are to catch mistakes, and the risks for patients experiencing complications increases.

“The body of evidence shows that safe patient-nurse ratios is better for patients,” she said.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Gene Basanta and Michele Mekel of SIU's School of Law about their upcoming Health Policy Institute.

Illinois lawmakers want to eliminate medical co-pays for prisoners.

Southern Illinois Healthcare's Community Health Needs Assessment shows the region still exceeds national averages in cancer, chronic disease, and poverty.

In today’s legal marijuana market, there is more than just a typical joint to get high. There are cookies, gummies, weed-infused drinks and more. But, there are few studies available in the United States that examine the long-term effects of these different products.

Cannabis Merges Into Health Care

May 1, 2019

We are taking a closer look at what the legalization of cannabis could mean for Illinois. The State of Cannabis is a collaborative reporting effort by public radio stations across the state. This piece in the series looks at the potential health care considerations of recreational marijuana.

Can Cannabis Help Patients Avoid Opioids?

May 1, 2019
Chuck Herrera/Pixabay

WSIU and Illinois Newsroom reported this story as part of a weeklong series from public radio stations around the state focusing on the potential impact of marijuana legalization.

Since February, patients in Illinois have been able to swap their opioid prescriptions for marijuana. And many are doing just that.

They’re part of a program designed to let patients who might not qualify for the state’s regular medical marijuana program exchange an opioid prescription, like Oxycontin, for weed.

Poshard Foundation Gives Grants to Local Agencies

Apr 30, 2019
A group of people standing behind a podium.
Steph Whiteside/WSIU

The Poshard Foundation gave $100,000 to 29 local agencies serving abused, neglected, and abandoned children. 

Jo Poshard, director of the Foundation, says this is a particularly pressing issue here in Southern Illinois.

"We have at least twenty counties in what I call deep Southern Illinois with child abuse rates that are double, triple, and sometimes even quadruple the state average," she said, citing statistics from the Department of Children and Family Services.

A southern Illinois church is planning to open a Sober Living House in Union County later this year.

Steven Guined is pastor of the non-denomination Connect Point Church in Anna. He says the plan for the facility grew out of the response to their ministry's weekly Recovery Program for those battling alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling and other problems. 

New Medicaid Coverage for Transgender Illinoisans

Apr 15, 2019
Ted Eytan / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will soon allow gender confirmation surgery to be covered by Medicaid.

That procedure, most often done to augment genitals and breasts, is used by transgender people who want their physical body match their gender identity. Not all trans people opt for surgeries, but many feel it’s necessary for their well-being.

“Covering gender affirming surgery fosters healthcare equity and inclusion,” said John Hoffman, the department’s spokesperson.

Losing Weight Takes More Than Willpower

Apr 12, 2019
Steph Whiteside/WSIU

Doctors often advise patients to lose weight - but that’s easier said than done. If you’ve been trying to drop the pounds and are struggling, it’s not just an issue of willpower.

“The brain is fighting you on multiple fronts,” said Dr. Megha Manek, a physician at the Southern University School of Medicine. She works with patients who are trying to lose weight.

Patients like Kathy Dauksza, who lost 50 pounds working with a wellness program at the university.

Tobacco sales in Illinois will soon be off-limits to anyone younger than 21 under a law signed Sunday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Jackson County Health Department Administrator Sarah Patrick about Public Health Week 2019.

In addition, the JCHD and SIH will present a special lecture on Saturday, April 6 at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Carbondale focusing on Health Equity. You can see the information in the flyer below.

Illinois lawmakers are being asked to decide whether nurses are dangerously overworked — and what to do about it.

Nurses want limits on how many patients they’re assigned. They argue it would improve patient outcomes and workplace safety. But opponents counter a “one size fits all” approach will not work.

A proposal in the Illinois House would allow people to donate their unused prescriptions and medical supplies to people who can’t afford them.

Dayempur Herbals

A natural healthcare expo is set for next month in Carbondale.

The topic is on managing diabetes.