Paddling the Cape Fear River: A relaxing adventure

LILLINGTON — With just a short walk from a busy highway and a quick push from a concrete ramp, the world disappears.

Floating from the landing at Cape Fear River Adventures off Lillington’s Main Street, the now-distant roar of cars crossing the U.S. 421 bridge overhead is the only real reminder of civilization that creeps onto the tree-lined waterway.

Hospitals have Hoke County poised for economic growth

RAEFORD – In less than two years, Hoke County residents have gone from having no local hospital to having a choice of two.

Now, as a result of the competition between two health systems for the patients in a fast-growing community, Hoke County could be poised for accelerated economic growth.

Day resource center could help homeless in Cumberland County

GREENSBORO – For those facing homelessness in Greensboro, there’s one place everyone knows to go for help.

In a former warehouse that sits just off the railroad tracks on the edge of downtown, the Interactive Resource Center serves as a one-stop shop that helps homeless people get off the streets and back on their feet.

The Fayetteville Observer traveled to Greensboro this month for a first-hand look at the center, which has been recognized as a successful model by advocates for the homeless here in Cumberland County and across the state.

Fayetteville’s homeless: A population that counts

Men and women carrying clipboards and clutching stacks of yellow forms went in search of the homeless Wednesday night and Thursday.

They set up in shelters, sat with people as they ate meals, searched them out under bridges, trying to make sure every last person was represented in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s point-in-time count.

The count lasts 24 hours, and tracks people who are both unsheltered and those who are in shelters or housing programs. The count spanned most of that period, and sent volunteers zigzagging the city.

Navigating through the Medicaid gap

Denise Johnson works six days a week in the laundry room of a hotel on U.S. 301. The 58-year-old Fayetteville resident doesn’t work enough hours to be considered full-time and doesn’t receive health benefits. She makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid and too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance under Obamacare.

Johnson is among about 500,000 state residents who fall into the gap in the health insurance program created by the writers of the law, a Supreme Court decision and North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Accountable care organizations: The next level of health care

In New Bern, George Anderson’s diabetes and other health problems have robbed him of his mobility, turning his wife into a caretaker. But Barbara Bostian has stepped in to make their lives better. In Greensboro, a diabetic woman made 132 trips to the emergency room in one year. But some practical home improvements cut her ER visits for the next 12 months to zero.
These two cases of outside-the-office health care are the direct result of a new trend in the way medical care is delivered: accountable care organizations.

Living on the edge: Misfortunes, eviction plague a struggling family on a small income

But even with Jason’s new $8.50-an-hour job, they couldn’t catch up. Now it’s early September, they haven’t even finished unpacking from the last move, and they face the terrifying prospect of living on the street. Dependent on part-time work, the Folgers are stuck in a cycle of not quite making it. They often are one mishap or string of bad luck away from a disaster, such as how they once again face eviction.

Independent living program a model for elderly care

For two years, Aikens has participated in an increasingly popular program called PACE, which helps seniors continue to live independently in their homes. People like Aikens regularly go to the center, where the staff coordinates all their medical needs. Advocates say the PACE model costs the state much less money than nursing home care.

Healthy Wake: A three-part series on disparities in well-being

Drive an hour south to Cumberland County, and you’re in one of the unhealthiest counties in North Carolina – ranking 73rd out of 100. People here die younger, weigh more and exercise less, data show. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases is double that of Wake County, and a third of people are considered obese. Why does Cumberland County – with the fifth largest population in the state – fare so poorly? What makes Wake County so drastically different?

Health care: Individual experiences help paint the big picture

The Fayetteville Observer, Jan. 19, 2014
Three vastly different experiences with the Affordable Care Act – a satisfied buyer, a customer with a grandfathered plan and a mother in the Medicaid gap – demonstrate how polarizing Obamacare continues to be. Each represents millions of other Americans with similar stories of frustration, relief or disappointment.

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defining moment Some days, you interview Little Caesar in the snow. (Photo by Andrew Craft)