Wisconsin Weekly: How one doctor fights her community’s opioid crisis

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Rural pain, ‘forever’ chemicals, depression at dairy farms, pot pardons, UW’s racial reckoning


Of note: This week we highlight a story by Bram Sable-Smith, the Wisconsin Public Radio fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. In collaboration with NPR, he followed a doctor’s fight to treat her patients’ opioid addiction — while still managing their pain — in a rural central Wisconsin community with few services at its disposal. The doctor is Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann, the only full-time family physician in the village of Necedah. Like many doctors across rural America, the burden of responding to her community’s slice of the opioid epidemic falls squarely on her shoulders.

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Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann is seen at the Necedah Family Medical Center in Necedah, Wis., on November 7, 2019, doing a check-in with Catina Stoflet, 35, who has been on medication-assisted treatment for seven months. “There isn’t another me just down the road. I’m the only one here,” says Dr. Gatzke-Plamann. “So if I can fulfill that need, then I should do that. And I don’t think that’s something that urban or suburban physicians have to deal with.”

‘Sometimes it’s just pain, pain, pain’: Inside a rural Wisconsin doctor’s fight to manage opioid use 

Wisconsin Watch — December 30, 2019

Rural residents are more prone to chronic pain and opioid addiction, but their health care systems offer fewer alternatives and treatments. In the village of Necedah, population 916, one doctor set out to change that. Listen and watch the related NPR audio and video reports. 

Pollution cases involving ‘forever’ chemicals are growing across Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — December 30, 2019

Wisconsin is grappling with a growing number of pollution cases involving widely used, largely unregulated chemicals contaminating water across the state. Often called “forever” chemicals because they do not break down in the environment, the substances have been used for decades in products including stain-resistant fabrics, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam. 

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Cows belonging to Dan and Linda Kundert. Dan and Linda Kundert own a small dairy farm where they milk 90 cows in Monroe, Wisconsin.

‘You have this burden that you carry’: For dairy farmers struggling to hold on, depression can take hold

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — December 31, 2019

This year alone, about 800 dairy farmers in Wisconsin quit or were forced out of the business, a rate of more than two per day. Some left in despair, having lost not only their livelihood but the home they grew up in, which their parents or grandparents had built. 

In a homecoming video meant to unite campus, almost everyone was white

The New York Times — January 1, 2020

A video was created this fall to show off the University of Wisconsin. Instead, it set off a furor, and a reckoning over what it means to be a black student on campus. Virtually every student in the video was white. Natalie Yahr, one of three journalists who reported this story, is a former Wisconsin Watch intern. 

Emily Hamer / Wisconsin Watch

Cannabis grows at Leafline Labs headquarters, in Cottage Grove, Minn., April 18, 2019. Marijuana possession in Wisconsin is currently illegal, and convictions for marijuana possession can have far-reaching effects, says Vincent Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University’s law school.

Pritzker pardons over 11K people with low-level cannabis convictions Tuesday

WGN9 — December 31, 2019

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker granted over 11,000 pardons Tuesday for people who had low-level cannabis convictions — one day before recreational marijuana became legal in the state. 

Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin lawmakers propose easing burdens on marijuana offenders

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