Safe at Home Part 3: On the Border

By Christine Herman/For — “Anne” and “Kate” are licensed home birth providers in Wisconsin but considered criminals in Illinois. They say home birth would be safer in Illinois if the government licensed certified professional midwives like them by helping people distinguish between trained and untrained midwives and reducing the number of unassisted home births. But opponents, who believe hospitals are the safest place for birth, say they will continue to oppose legislation for licensing them. This story was part of Christine Herman’s journalism master’s project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2014. 

Visit to see more of Herman’s project. 

Listen to the third in a 3 part series

Safe at Home Part 2: Going it Alone

By Christine Herman/For — When Cheryl Gioja went into labor, her husband Joshua got down on his knees to “catch the baby” in the living room of their Illinois home. What he did was not a crime. But if a midwife had been there, she would have been breaking the law. Roughly 800 babies in Illinois are born at home each year. Without access to licensed providers, families resort to hiring “underground” midwives, who may or may not have adequate training.

Safe at Home Part 1: Illinois’s home birth crisis

By Christine Herman/For — Home births have increased by more than 50 percent since 2004. But in 22 states, certified professional midwives have to work outside the law to assist women in home birth. Although doctors and nurse midwives can assist home births, very few of them actually do, leaving many women without a single legal home-birth provider. Experts discuss what some activists call a home birth crisis in one such state, Illinois. This story was originally broadcast on Radio Health Journal and was part of Christine Herman’s journalism master’s project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2014. Visit to see more of Herman’s project. 

Listen to the first in a 3 part series

Breast milk drop off site to open in Champaign

By Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media — Many lactation experts say newborns can get their nutrition needs met through formula, but that breast milk is preferred because of the additional health benefits. When mothers can’t produce enough breast milk for their baby or can’t use their breast milk due to medical reasons, donated milk is available — but not enough of it, due to a nationwide shortage of pasteurized breast milk. To combat the shortage, breast milk banks across the country are trying to open more drop off sites to collect donated breast milk, including a site opening soon in Champaign. Beth McKinney has been operating a breast milk bank of sorts in her own freezer. It has only been a few months since McKinney, 26, of Champaign gave birth to her son, Charlie, and she says she produces just enough milk for her son when she’s breastfeeding.

Unmet Needs: Living with mental illness in central Illinois

Illinois Public Media’s “Unmet Needs: Living with mental illness in central Illinois” explores the causes of the gaps in care and looks at some of the ways health care providers and advocates are working to improve access. The series also explores the day-to-day challenges of living with mental illness, and what can happen if the mentally ill don’t get the help they need. According to federal labor statistics, there are more psychiatrists working in Illinois than most states, with the bulk of that service concentrated in the Chicagoland area. Mental health providers still say there are major gaps in service across Illinois, especially downstate. Those living with mental illness, or caring for family members who are, often wait six months or longer to get a first time appointment with a doctor, a waiting period that many say is unmanageable.

Weekly RoundUp: Affordable Care Act

As Illinois prepares for implementation of the new Affordable Healthcare Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, questions, criticism and confusion abound. Governor Quinn’s administration created Healthcare Reform in Illinois – What it Means for You, stating that the “signing of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides Illinois with an opportunity to advance reforms that will ensure that we have a more efficient and cost-effective health care system.”

According to the site, by 2014 nearly one million Illinoisans will become eligible for new health care coverage. But critics say the new healthcare reform law has its share of challenges. Read a weekly roundup of recent articles about the Affordable Care Act and how it might affect you.  

Clearing Up Confusion About Health Reform’s Out-of-Pocket Protections – Illinois Health Matters

“Recent media coverage may have sown confusion about health reform’s requirement that health insurance plans cap how much consumers can pay out-of-pocket each year for medical care.

Avicenna Community Health Center/ A patient has her blood pressure and temperature checked

Weekly Roundup: Healthcare

This year will see more effects from the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Care Act. Here is what’s trending in the news on health care, the uninsured and “Obamacare”. To cover medical bills, the uninsured get creative – U.S. News

“Research published by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focused on healthcare improvements, forecasts that the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—could reduce the number of underinsured adults by 70 percent. Still, several provisions of Obamacare won’t go into effect until January or later.” Gun shot wounds drive up government health care costs – USA Today

“Gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion a year in court proceedings, insurance costs and hospitalizations paid for by government health programs, according to a recent study.”

Demand still up for college counseling services

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess

In the wake of Sandy Hook and other school shootings of recent years, gun control advocates – and some politicians, including President Obama – have renewed a push for changes to existing gun laws. Yet others say that mental health services, rather than gun reform, should be the focus. A review last year by a group of Midwest journalism professors and students found that many college counseling centers across the region do not have enough staff to meet the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 1,500 students. The latest survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors  – due to be released soon – found that more college counseling centers are hiring staff, reversing a four-year trend yet all the while demand for services continues to rise. “It’s kind of like a small town with four-lane highways coming into from four different directions,” said Dr. Dan Jones, president of the association.

Health industry brings Filipinos to Champaign

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein/Hoy — Light gleams off the wooden floor in the gymnasium at Judah Christian School in Champaign. The squeaking of sneakers is followed by cheers when the volleyball is spiked, lands out of bounds or is served under the net.  On one court, Angela, a 10-year-old with a black ponytail and a white t-shirt, keeps score with a black marker. On the other court, players from ages 13 to 55 play in the shadow of the purple scoreboard with gold letters. On a nearby stage, a crowd composed primarily of women sits on front of a table filled with food ranging from Filipino staples like noodles and hot sauce to American standards like pizza, cookies and soda.  The crowd watches with interest while also tending to some of the young children running around the stage and the gym. To outsiders, the weekly gathering  may seem just like a regular volleyball game.