Rachel Cassandra, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

Rachel Cassandra, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage
Rachel Cassandra covers health and wellness for Alaska Public Media. Reach her at rcassandra@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Rachel here.

Alaska Legislature establishes psychedelic task force for FDA-approved therapies

The task force will help with legislative, licensing and health insurance policies to make any federally-approved therapies accessible.

At Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, art classes help prisoners take a break and prepare for release

One of the themes teacher Jamey Bradbury talks about in her classes is the healing power of art.
A woman in a prisoner jumpsuit doin crafts.

Arts class helps prisoners at Hiland gain confidence for life after incarceration

In Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, a teacher is offering women a space that gives them a bit of what they describe as “normalcy.”

Former head prison doctor replaces Anne Zink as Alaska’s chief medical officer

Dr. Robert Lawrence is a family medicine doctor who got his start in rural Alaska.
Wooden white crosses dot a grassy park.

Last year was Alaska’s deadliest on record for opioid overdoses

Alaska lost 342 people to opioid overdose in 2023 and had the highest increase in deaths per capita in the nation.
A picture of a building.

Medication is an important tool for people struggling with alcohol addiction in Alaska

There are more options than ever for treating alcohol use disorder in Alaska, including several medications that can make it easier for some people to reduce or stop drinking.
A doctor with a brown sweater stands in front of an emergency room

Public health officials revamp efforts to protect Alaskans against lead poisoning

Fewer children get tested for lead in Alaska, so officials are launching new programs to encourage testing and provide follow-up care.
A woman nurses a three-month-old baby and holds his hand.

A collective of doulas and midwives is helping Alaska Native mothers stay connected to their roots

The Indigenous birthworkers will attend medical appointments with mothers, advocate for them and help connect them to traditional practices.
A person leaves the sliding glass doors ofa pink building witha white sign above that says "Anchorage Health Department

Anchorage Health Department to offer low-cost baby check-ups

Families can bring babies up to 2 years old to the clinic for routine and preventative care.
Silhouette of a school building with a dusk sky.

Southcentral Foundation to place a school nurse and counselors in 3 rural schools

The grant-funded program will provide a registered nurse and behavioral health consultants to McGrath, Nikolai and Takotna.

Alaska Native Medical Center begins emergency services expansion

The first phase of expansion will offer more patient beds, surgery recovery spaces, and behavioral health treatment spaces.

Huslia man reflects on father’s legacy of mental illness, recovery, and helping villagers in crisis

Lee DeWilde grew up outside of Huslia in the 1960’s, when it was a 160-person village in Interior Alaska. He remembers that his father, Lloyd DeWilde, faced some mental health struggles growing up. But despite those struggles, Lloyd later became a resource for his village.

New online tool connects Alaskans with traumatic brain injury to care

The tool lists providers who work with brain injury patients across the state.
A woman with glasses and colored hair stands outside in front of green trees.

Psychologist sues state over license application she says is unconstitutional and discriminatory

Dr. Jennifer Poon says the state board should not require a full release of medical and mental health records to apply for a psychology license.

CVS to pay Alaska $10M in settlement for role in opioid crisis

Alaska reached a settlement with CVS March 7, for the role the company played in the opioid crisis in the state. CVS settled the complaint and did not admit wrongdoing.

As public guardians in Alaska remain buried in cases, their director searches for solutions

A state program that serves some of the most vulnerable people in Alaska is overwhelmed. Its director is searching for solutions.
A midwife holds a pregnant mother's hand.

Alaska midwives speak out against an executive order that would dissolve their board

The executive order dissolving the midwife board is one of 12 that the governor submitted in January to the Legislature. 
A red squirrel sits on a stump

Kenai Peninsula man is the first person to die of Alaskapox virus

Experts say to be cautious when handling small mammals in the state, but infection is rare and death unlikely.
A woman lowers a metal lid onto a machine with both hands.

An Anchorage woman is working to offer water cremation and other natural death care options in Alaska

Rachel Bernhardt is starting to offer water cremation and natural burial, which have lower environmental footprints.