Sophie Novack

Sophie Novack is a staff writer at the Observer covering public health. She previously covered health care policy and politics at National Journal in Washington, D.C. You can contact her at [email protected].

By Sophie Novack:

rio grande valley, diabetes
Health Care

Life and Limb

Each diabetic amputation represents not just a personal tragedy, but a failure of the U.S. health-care system.

by Sophie Novack March 1, 2019  Daniel Zamora still remembers the smell. At first he didn’t realize anything was wrong. A small blister appeared on his left pinky toe where his sneaker rubbed against his skin. He had developed … Read More

Matt Schaefer, Matt Krause
Health Care

Amid Measles Outbreak, Texas Lawmakers Want to Make it Even Easier to Opt Out of Vaccines

A new bill would ban the Texas health department from tracking vaccine exemptions — a move medical experts say would curb their ability to identify outbreaks.

Texas state Representative Bill Zedler doesn’t understand the fuss over the resurgence of infectious diseases. “When I grew up, I had a lot of these illnesses,” he said, listing measles, mumps and chickenpox. “They wanted me to stay at home. … Read More

Health Care

Faith Groups: Texas ‘Ignored and Disrespected’ Religious Freedom in Passing Fetal Burial Law

The requirements “purportedly honor dignity of the unborn at the expense of the dignity of the women whose religious and personal freedom they curtail,” a collection of religious organizations wrote in a recent court filing.

It’s been years since Dr. Karen Swenson stopped doing miscarriage management at Seton, a Catholic hospital in Austin. That’s because of Seton’s longtime but largely unknown policy mandating the burial of fetal remains after miscarriages. Swenson, an OB-GYN for more … Read More

Health Care

Four Texas Abortion Court Cases to Watch in 2019

The lawsuits could eventually end up at the Supreme Court, where the future of Roe v. Wade is now in question.

The Texas Legislature’s zeal for passing anti-abortion legislation has created an endless cycle of court challenges that’s frustrated lawmakers and judges alike. “Why don’t we just stop passing unconstitutional laws?” pleaded Democratic Representative Chris Turner, in the midst of a … Read More

james allison, immunology, cancer research, nobel prize
Health Care

Meet Jim Allison, Texas’ Newest Nobel Laureate (and Three-Time Cancer Survivor)

The Houston immunologist talks about growing up in small-town Texas, creationism in public schools and what it means to talk about a cure.

Just a few years ago, Jim Allison was considered something of a “snake oil salesman” by other cancer researchers. The ruddy-faced, scraggly-haired scientist from Alice is used to forging his own path. He fought his high school teachers who refused … Read More

peter hotez
Health Care

Meet the Scientist and Autism Dad Who’s Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Peter Hotez predicts deadly measles outbreaks in Texas if the growing trend of nonmedical vaccine exemptions continues.

Peter Hotez didn’t expect the anti-vaccine movement to get so personal. Now dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Hotez has dedicated his career to developing vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. He … Read More

Health Care

Trump’s Sabotage of ACA Enrollment Is Particularly Dangerous in Texas

The attacks on enrollment outreach come as Texas’ uninsured rate increased last year to more than 17 percent — the highest since 2014.

Illustration/Sunny Sone On a dreary day in late September, Ana Maria Garza Cortez stood in front of a hotel conference room full of worn-out community health workers in San Antonio, trying to get them revved up about Obamacare. Open enrollment … Read More

rgv, voting
Health Care

In the Rio Grande Valley, New Citizens Turn Out to Vote for the First Time

A nonprofit in Brownsville is seeing more immigrants signing up for citizenship classes this year, and more exercising their new right to vote.

Fifty-one-year old Sandra Cantu had never voted before today. Originally from Matamoros, Mexico, Cantu has lived for the last 30 years in Brownsville, just over a mile from the border. She finally became a citizen and registered to vote this … Read More