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Stories by Kristen Thometz

Is the Opioid Epidemic Leaving Chronic Pain Patients Out in the Cold?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hailey R. Staker)

As the U.S. grapples with opioid addiction, chronic pain patients say the medications they rely on are being reduced and they’re being treated like “junkies.” “We’re not drug addicts,” says a patient with excruciating neuropathic pain.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: May 10-13

Manifest 2017 (Philip Dembinski for Columbia College Chicago)

Street performers, fair trade pop-ups, tiny homes and indigenous plants usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Tronc Voluntarily Recognizes Chicago Tribune Union

(Adam Jones, Ph.D. / Wikimedia Commons)

After more than 85 percent of eligible employees signed cards in favor of union representation, the media company that owns the Chicago Tribune agrees to voluntarily recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild.

‘Grace’ Captures Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey, Mastectomy Tattoo

Grace Lombardo (Couresty of "Grace")

Grace Lombardo never thought she’d get a tattoo, but then she got breast cancer. Her story of survival and recovery is told in a new documentary.

Grand Jury Indicts 2 Alleged Distributors of K2 in Springfield

The U.S. attorney’s office announced Wednesday a grand jury has indicted two people on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute synthetic cannabinoids from retail stores in Springfield.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: May 3-6

(Rose Photo)

A Star Wars-themed skate, spring festivals, colorful kites and mint juleps usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Chicago Tribune Critic John von Rhein to Retire in July

John von Rhein (Courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

“It’s been a great ride, but the time has come to move off into other ventures,” longtime critic John von Rhein wrote in a letter to readers Wednesday.

Study: ‘Alarming’ Racial Disparities Persist Among Kids with Asthma

(Giuseppe Milo / Flickr)

Of the nearly 9,000 Chicago children who had an asthma-related emergency room visit in 2015, 63 percent of them were African-American, according to a new study by the Respiratory Health Association.

Former Nepalese Child Laborer Seeks to Empower Women, Children

(Nasreen Sheikh / Facebook)

Meet Nasreen Sheikh, a former child laborer who is using her past to improve the lives of women and children around the world.

DEA Taking Back Prescription Drugs Saturday

Clean out your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of unused prescriptions during a biannual event that’s collected more than 9 million pounds of pills since its 2010 launch.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 26-29

(Courtesy of One of a Kind Show)

A unique shopping fair, craft cocktails, irreverent improv and films about furry friends usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Illinois Woman’s Death Linked to Synthetic Marijuana Use

Synthetic cannabinoid use has now been linked to four deaths in Illinois since late March, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Study: Gene Therapy for Blood Disorder Ends Need for Transfusions

A rare blood disorder called thalassemia requires regular blood transfusions, but gene therapy may change that, according to a new study.

Illinois Gets Huge Donation for Synthetic Cannabinoids Treatment

How a donation of nearly 800,000 tablets of vitamin K can help treat severe bleeding related to the use of synthetic cannabinoids.

New Chicago Law Requires Health Warning Signs at Tobacco Dealers

The Windy City is the first in the nation to require tobacco health warning signs at the doors of all tobacco dealers. The new law also prohibits all free sampling of tobacco products.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 19-22

Peek into hanging terrariums for an ant’s-eye view of nature with the “Local Homes: Nature in Your Backyard installation" by artist Vaughn Bell at the Unearth Science festival. (Chicago Botanic Garden)

Earth Day activities, heaps of chocolate and international pop bands usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

How Prepared is Illinois to Manage Health Emergencies?

When it comes to dealing with disasters, disease outbreaks and other emergencies, Illinois is among the most prepared states in the nation, according to a new report. 

UChicago Launches LGBTQ Career Readiness Program

A new resource is designed to help adolescents and young adults develop job skills, continue their education and overcome barriers to stable employment.

Study: Night Owls Have Risk of Dying Sooner than Early Risers

Left: Sunrise over Lake Michigan. (rlobes / Pixabay). Right: Moon over Chicago. (nathanmac87 / Flickr)

The adage, “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” takes on new meaning thanks to research by scientists in Chicago and England.

10 Things to Do this Weekend: April 12-15

Scaly creatures, vintage vinyls and cheesy bites usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago. 

Chicago Tribune Staffers Move to Unionize

(Adam Jones, Ph.D. / Wikimedia Commons)

“The newsroom is in a position of jeopardy, and we’re standing up to make sure we’re paid fairly and to make sure we have a voice in how this place operates,” said Charlie Johnson, a Chicago Tribune home page editor and member of the union organizing committee.

Study: US Clinicians Project Better Health Outcomes for White Patients

A hypothetical male patient diagnosed with hypertension served as the starting point for a University of Chicago study on racial bias in health care in the U.S. and France.

3 Illinois Deaths Linked to Synthetic Marijuana Use

Two Illinois men in their 20s and one in his 40s have died since March 28 after experiencing severe bleeding related to the use of synthetic cannabinoids, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Reports of Illness Linked to Synthetic Cannabinoid Use Surge in 2018

In the first 95 days of 2018, there have been 111 cases of illness related to synthetic cannabinoid use in Illinois, according to the Illinois Poison Center. Episodes of severe bleeding are driving the bulk of that increase.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 5-8

C2E2 2017 (C2E2 / Facebook)

Superheroes, bacon bites and vintage street murals usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.