U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Blogs

    October 1, 2014

    Medical Marijuana Refugees are Fleeing Texas to Help Their Loved Ones

    Sitting cross-legged on the floor in her apartment outside of Houston, Faith's mother looks over at the toddler repeatedly as she talks. There are no physical indicators that signal the start of a seizure, but Faith's mother can tell one is on its way. Everything about raising Faith involves watchi ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 4, 2013

    Shutdown Not Affecting Houston Food Safety, Yet

    Think of the government shutdown as you would a hurricane. Stock up on canned food, sit tight and wait it out. Evacuate if you must, but you're going to have to travel pretty far to get out of this mess. The government has been getting a lot of (much deserved) grief over the shutdown, and I was o ... More >>

  • News

    July 25, 2013

    Getting Stuck: Uninsured Patients Slammed with Lawsuits by Not-for-Profit Hospital

    Memorial Hermann treats patients without insurance, tells them not to worry about the cost and then sues them for thousands of dollars.

  • Blogs

    March 22, 2012

    City of Houston to Vote on Charitable Feeding Ordinance

    Every Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., volunteers for Noah's Kitchen gather at Jenni's Noodle House in the Heights and begin prepping for their day ahead. Since 2010, the charity's mission has been to feed Houston's homeless one meal at a time. In their first year, Noah's Kitchen volunteers fed 5,000 p ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 2, 2012

    Turn Your Browser and Cough: The Top 15 Health Care Web Sites

    Lt. Reginald Barclay was a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. By trade, he was an engineer, but he was well known on the show for being a massive hypochondriac. On one episode, Dr. Beverly Crusher advised Reg not to look through the Star Fleet medical database anymore because it was causin ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 21, 2011

    Free Birth Control: 5 Places To Spend Those Savings Outside Of Your Womb

    Birth control pills, for the low, low price of nothing.​For hating on your babymaker so hard, the government sure is spending a lot of time down there. Just ask Planned Parenthood: there's a lot of womb-shaming here in Texas. But finally, finally, a governmental body may start meddling on beha ... More >>

  • News

    June 2, 2011

    Broken System

    A lawsuit alleges that 12,000 kids trapped in foster care with little chance of getting out are being exposed to abuse and neglect, shuttled around the state and denied health services.

  • Music

    July 29, 2010
  • Culture

    June 17, 2010
  • Blogs

    June 17, 2010

    Gil Costas: Fired BARC Whistleblower Gets $70K From The City

    Photo by blue_sharpieThis guy's got questions​Houston City Council members Wednesday approved a $70,000 settlement with a former Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care veterinarian who filed a whistleblower suit against the city in 2009.Gil Costas was fired in February 2009 for what a BARC spokesper ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 1, 2009

    This Just In: BARC No Longer Part Of The Health & Human Services Department

    Photo by abcrumley​The Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control will be removed from the Health and Human Services Department, according to Frank Michel, the Mayor's communications director."We will be working to remove BARC from the Health Department over the next couple of weeks," Michel told Hai ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 19, 2009

    A Bit Of A Slowdown In The Rush To Approve BARC's Change Agent

    Photo by wsilver​City Council did not vote on BARC interim chief Gerry Fusco's contract because it was not completed in time for the meeting, according to the mayor's agenda director."The documents weren't in," Marty Stein told Hair Balls. "....In this case, what happened was, because this is ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 23, 2009

    Complain About BARC, Find Yourself Charged With A Crime

    Photo by bf_photos The Harris County District Attorney's Office has charged a BARC volunteer for filing a false police report regarding animal abuse he said he heard while at the city's animal control facility. Shelby Kibodeaux was charged July 1 with the class B misdemeanor, which ca ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 7, 2009

    BARC Chief Is Fired, With Little In The Way Of Explanation

    BARC Bureau Chief Ray Sim was fired today, spokeswoman Kathy Barton confirmed. She would not give specific reasons, saying only "I think it was just an issue of timing...[it was] not the right time for this guy." Sim began his job in May, after the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 30, 2009

    A Q&A With The Man Who Oversees BARC Leaves More Q's Than A's

    Photo by mary_thompsonWhen it comes to the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, Stephen Williams is a man who does not like to dwell on the past. As the director of Houston's Department of Health and Human Services, he said in an interview Monday that while he was aware of years of criticism of BAR ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 22, 2009

    BARC Wants More City Money Now, Or Dogs And Staffers Will Die

    The Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control vaccinated only eight percent of animals on entry between July 2008 and January 2009, according to a BARC supplement asking for additional funding from the city. "Best industry standard is to vaccinate all animals entering a shelter, to minimize ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 12, 2009

    More (Somewhat Meandering, But Nevertheless Entertaining) Tales Of BARC Incompetence

    Photo by Daniel KramerWe're pretty sure the dude who coined that phrase about a hard task being akin to "nailing jelly to a wall" wasn't referring to getting news out of BARC, but he could've been.For one thing, Health and Human Services did not tell the media when BARC hired its new chief, Ray Sim. ... More >>

  • News

    May 7, 2009
  • Blogs

    April 7, 2009

    City Still Hiding BARC Documents, Despite AG's Ruling

    As Hair Balls has previously noted, the City of Houston apparently doesn't want its citizens knowing what's going on at the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care. For the past few months, advocates concerned for the health and safety of the more than 20,000 animals BARC processes each year have submi ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 25, 2009

    BARC Down To Its Last Vet

    Veterinarian David Rundell resigned today from the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, spokeswoman Kathy Barton confirmed. Nicole Sica at the Houston Examiner was the first on the story.  Rundell was suspended with pay three weeks ago for allegedly treating a sick dog with Valium he brou ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 11, 2009

    Pearland Gets The State's Newest Superfund Site! Take That, Pasadena!

    There's an ugly mess of chemicals in the groundwater on the south side of Pearland. The contamination is severe enough that the abandoned tank farm has become the latest addition to the state's Superfund Registry.This is no surprise to nearby residents, some of whom are being given bottled water bec ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 4, 2009

    BARC's Firing Of Vet Doesn't Add Up

    On Tuesday, Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care veterinarian Gil Costas was fired for what Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Kathy Barton said was not having proper state certification.Barton said Costas did not have "site-specific" Texas Department of Public Safety controlled-substa ... More >>

  • News

    January 29, 2009

    BARC Sucks

    The city's animal shelter just can't get its act together

  • Blogs

    December 3, 2008

    Photoshop Phun At The Baylor College Of Medicine

    The wonders of Photoshop are bountiful -- they let Sooner football fans taunt UT; they allow people to make bold, trenchant analysis of the current socio-political world by showing George Bush in his "Mission Accomplished" flightsuit in unlikely settings; they probably have something to do with lolc ... More >>

  • News

    November 27, 2008

    Fighting Cancer

    Who says Texas isn't battling cigs?

  • Blogs

    November 19, 2008

    How Could Anyone Criticize Texas' Anti-Smoking Campaign?

    Here’s yet another list that Texas finds itself at the bottom of: the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ report of how states have been spending (or not spending) the money they’ve been receiving from the landmark 1998 multi-billion dollar settlement with Big Tobacco. Texas comes in at 46, s ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 17, 2008

    New Health Department HQ Delayed

    Apparently, there’s some unhappy financial stuff going down lately – you might be aware of it if you read the paper or listen to radio news. (Some of us at Hair Balls prefer early-’70s Oui magazines and Cheap Trick.) To help prevent Houston from getting sucked into this new economic abyss, May ... More >>

  • News

    October 2, 2008

    Soldier Suicides

    Surviving our War on Terror calls for more than an ability to dodge bullets and IEDs

  • News

    June 5, 2008

    There's a Morning-After Drug to Prevent HIV Infection

    The treatment is called post-exposure prophylaxis. So why do so few medical groups in Houston know about it?

  • News

    December 27, 2007
  • News

    December 6, 2007

    Toxic Town: Cancer and Birth Defects in Somerville

    In Somerville, chances are far better than normal that you will die of cancer or give birth to a deformed baby

  • News

    August 30, 2007

    Smoked Out

    Will "self-enforcement" be enough for Houston's expanded smoking ban to work?

  • News

    September 22, 2005

    Super Bummer

    Vendors says they were never paid for a Bowl party

  • News

    August 4, 2005

    They Walk Among Us

    A closer look at a spiffy downtown park reveals it's crawling with rats

  • News

    July 28, 2005

    One Dead Guinea Pig

    A bad reaction to a drug trial sparks an investigation into Houston's Fabre Clinic and its founder

  • News

    June 23, 2005

    Got Your Health

    How much more can you cut?

  • Calendar

    September 11, 2003
  • News

    March 13, 2003

    All Duct Up

    From leftist camps and corporate security to semi-panic and port patrols, Houstonians tackle terrorism threats. Sort of.

  • News

    February 27, 2003

    Deal of a Lifetime

    Drug addicts can get hard cash to be sterilized or go on birth control. Is it ridding the world of unwanted babies -- or just ducking the underlying problems of abusers?

  • News

    August 22, 2002


    Dr. Shelley's new operating room reveals the worst and best of a City Council under term limits

  • News

    April 25, 2002

    Needling the Mayor

    Former drug czar Lee Brown has trouble negotiating a question about why there's no needle-exchange program for addicts in Houston

  • News

    April 25, 2002

    Rock-A-Baby Bye-Bye

    A state program was supposed to give moms a safe place to drop off unwanted newborns. Then why are so many babies still ending up in the trash?

  • News

    March 23, 2000

    Not Your Grandma's Girl Scouts

    Rachelle Anderson just took super Girl Scout honors. And it wasn't hustling cookies that got her there.

  • News

    February 3, 2000

    Drowning on Dry Land

    Rising asthma rates have experts scratching their heads - and children struggling to breathe

  • News

    August 26, 1999

    Paradise Lost

    Milby's cleanup cost Houston $10 million. Now HCC says the site is still contaminated.

  • News

    June 3, 1999

    Immune to Reason

    Hundreds of thousands of Texas children, including 250,000 newborn babies, are routinely vaccinated against hepatits B each year. Why? Good question.

  • News

    July 10, 1997

    Cozy Ties

    In the battle to privatize welfare services in Texas, corporate bidders have enlisted some inside help

  • News

    April 24, 1997

    "A Flaky Deal"

    To snare a federal grant, the city of Houston overstated the extent of lead poisoning among children in poor neighborhoods. But now that it's got the money, the city can't figure out how to help those who need it most

  • News

    April 11, 1996
  • News

    March 14, 1996

    Swinish Behavior

    Texas A&M's attempt to push an animal research center on a black neighborhood has raised a sour smell in College Station

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