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West Virginia is among the top five states on just about every national chronic disease list. Journalist Kate Long investigates what's behind the state's poor showing.

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This story is Part 14 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Ind.

When Shantray Hooks, of Gary, lost her job as a restaurant cook in August, she didn’t know how she would pay for doctor visits.

“I had no health insurance and I couldn’t afford to pay a doctor,” said Hooks, 29, who was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago.

A doctor referred her to the Community Health Net of Gary, a federally qualified community health center that provides comprehensive primary care health services and charges on a sliding fee scale for services.

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People living with diabetes in San Joaquin County may have cause for concern: The county ranks worst in the state for deaths caused by diabetes. Medical officials say the lack of education and resources are to blame.

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From greener school lunches to required nutritional information printed on fast-food menus, it's clear that state and federal governments are urging Americans to take control of their health -- starting with food. This is part four in a four-part series.

Part one: Convenience often trumps nutrition

Part two: Committed to nutrition

Part three: Providing healthier choices

 

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From the Jonas Brothers to Antonio Banderas, celebrities are cutting deals with Big Pharma. Plus more from our Daily Briefing.

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"It's the alcohol hangover," Gerardo Cuapio thought five years ago when he woke up thirsty and with blurred vision. National Health Journalism Fellow Pedro Frisneda tells the story of a man who was on the verge of death without knowing he had Type 2 diabetes. It's a cautionary tale for what happens to many Latin American immigrants who move to the United States, adopting a new lifestyle and diet that can contribute to developing the disease. "The Big Apple is confronting one of the worst diabetes epidemics in the nation and health authorities have declared it an emergency," with Hispanics suffering disproportionately.

This story was originally published in Spanish. Below is the English translation.

Part 2: In the kingdom of fats and sugar

Part 3: In a sedentary country

Picture of Angilee Shah

After a 30-year career writing about health, Susan Brinks found herself in the throes of her own medical story.

She has been a freelancer since being laid off from the Los Angeles Times in October 2008, and her COBRA -- the post-employment extension of her health insurance -- runs out on July 20.

Picture of Heather Chambers

The world’s best-selling drugs lower cholesterol, reduce heartburn and treat depression. Pharmaceutical companies rake in tens of billions of dollars a year (Lipitor alone brought in $13.6 billion in global sales in 2006) by reaching millions of patients in the and others abroad. Meanwhile, patients with rare diseases and lesser known conditions wait on better treatments as companies find ways to make a profit on their drugs.

Picture of William Heisel

President Barack Obama is searching for a new surgeon general. He might consider screening the resumes of doctors a little lower in the federal ranks.

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