Health

Sal Pinna Finally Finds a Home

Apr 16, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

I didn’t think the story would end this way.

Sal Pinna has been homeless for 20 years, since he came to Connecticut from his native Long Island to enroll in a substance abuse program. 

Pinna is a 52-year-old man who loves the Mets, Batman, and Dean Martin. He wants a home, but the myriad forms and appointments that are required have proven to be beyond him. Pinna has diabetes, and he’s been diagnosed with depression, and a few years ago, bipolar disorder. 

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In his new book, Ending Back Pain, New York spine neurosurgeon Jack Stern says there are five actions to take to treat an ailing back or keep your back in better shape, to avoid surgery.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

A Manchester social service agency will close its 40-bed homeless shelter July 1 rather than comply with a state order to admit homeless people who abuse alcohol and drugs. 

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A bill that would give terminally ill patients the right to try experimental drugs and treatments currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration is working its way through the state legislature. 

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No surgery. No medication. No drastic measures. Just healthy joints — for life!

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The federal VA is trying to cut down the amount of time veterans are left waiting for care by hiring more health care professionals. For former service members, working at the VA may not be a tough sell.

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Thai basil chicken… joyful chocolate almond bars… no-bake cake… sweet potato and ground turkey shepherd's pie… it's all in the new book The Science of Skinny Cookbook, produced by the scientist Dee McCaffrey, who eliminated synthetic chemicals from her diet and went from obese to slender. Now she offers the recipes that have made her plan a success…

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The State Department of Public Health has just released 2013 data on Health Risk Behaviors in Connecticut’s High School Age Youth. This week, WNPR is focusing on one particularly troubling condition described in the report: self injury.

On Wednesday, we learned about how one Connecticut school district is trying to cope with a substantial rise in the number of high school students who are cutting themselves.

In part two, we bring you the story of a Connecticut man’s journey through mental illness and self-injury to recovery. 

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A new report compiled data from all traffic stops in Connecticut concludes that minority drivers are statistically more likely to be stopped by law enforcement than white drivers. 

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Schools in Connecticut and across the nation are reporting a consistent rise in the number of students with mental health issues, and an increase in the complexity and severity of problems. This week, WNPR focuses attention on a particularly troubling condition: self-injury.

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The CDC reports that about 1 in 68 American children has Autism Spectrum Disorder and that number has increased significantly over the last decade. But, it’s hard to know if autism is really on the rise or if greater awareness and better diagnosis are bringing previously undetected cases under the umbrella.

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Thousands of low-income adults and children have gained access to dental services in recent years as the number of dentists accepting Medicaid and HUSKY patients has soared, according to state data.

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The state has eliminated its sales tax on certain non-prescription medicines. The change will eliminate taxes on over-the-counter items like antacids, cough syrup, and pain medication. It also gets rid of the sales tax on dietary supplements and vitamins.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been five years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, and the law is still as contentious as ever. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in King v. Burwell, a case challenging the distribution of Obamacare subsidies. 

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New techniques are being used by brain specialists to treat Parkinson's, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.

How Do You Get an ID When You Have No Home?

Apr 1, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

It was a bitter cold Friday in March, and Sal Pinna was heading into the wind on Main Street in Hartford.

"Cold enough, but I don't feel a thing," Pinna said. "I guess I’m used to it."

Pinna, a Long Island native, has been homeless for 20 years in Connecticut, but he wants very much to get an apartment. He has in his backpack a xeroxed copy of his birth certificate – but that’s not good enough for official paperwork. Without proper identification, Pinna is stuck in shelters, or worse.

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A judge has ruled a 17-year-old Connecticut girl who was forced to undergo chemotherapy by the state must remain in the temporary custody of the Department of Children and Families until her treatments are finished.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Advocates for juveniles want the state legislature to repeal a rarely used law that allows Connecticut's Department of Children and Families to request a youth be transferred to an adult prison. 

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Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act ended in February. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, uninsured Connecticut residents who just found out about the financial penalty in the law now have one more month to apply for coverage. 

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Pre-diabetes is not fun, but the way we eat can help us avoid developing it, as well as full blown adult-onset diabetes, says Dr. Reza Yavari of Connecticut.

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United Health, which has significant operations in Connecticut, says it will spend $12 billion to buy a pharmacy benefits management company. Catamaran Corporation, based in Illinois, will be merged with United Health’s existing pharmacy benefits unit OptumRx. 

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Healthbridge, the controversial New Jersey company, is to sell almost all of its nursing homes in Connecticut to a Florida partnership. Healthbridge was in and out of the headlines for years for poor labor relations as it locked workers out of one of its homes, sparking a strike at all of its unionized locations. 

Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food may have been caught by Burmese slaves. That's the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press.

The AP discovered and interviewed dozens of men being held against their will on Benjina, a remote Indonesian island, which serves as the base for a trawler fleet that fishes in the area.

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A dispute between Governor Dannel Malloy and the federal government over Medicaid reimbursement rates could cost state taxpayers an extra $45 million. 

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It turns out hospital patients get woken up all night long for tests so doctors can have them in the morning at their convenience. A recent experiment at Yale New Haven Hospital, though, showed no patient appeared worse off when staff were told to let them sleep all night. That experiment was conducted at the direction of Yale's Dr. Michael Bennick, who is in charge of determining what "patient-centered care" should look like. 

A heavy workload caused by the Affordable Care Act, government technology limits and staff shortages are causing unusually long delays in filling public records requests, federal health officials say.

The waits in some cases could stretch out a decade or more.

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to respond to records requests in 20 working days, though providing documents often takes much longer. The FBI, for instance, recently reported that complex requests could average more than two years to fill.

Johnny Reynolds knew that something was wrong as far back as 2003. That's when he first started experiencing extreme fatigue.

"It was like waking up every morning and just putting a person over my shoulders and walking around with them all day long," says Reynolds, 54, who lived in Ohio at the time.

In addition, Reynolds was constantly thirsty and drank so much water that he would urinate 20 or 30 times per day. "And overnight I would probably get up at least eight or nine times a night," he says.

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The World Health Organization has selected Greater New Haven as one of 15 urban areas worldwide to pilot a planned “age-friendly city indicator guide”.  

Ryan Welsgerber / Creative Commons

Doctors have been treating the symptoms of their patients, often before they know the cause, for centuries. But as medicine has gained sophistication and precision, we've slowly demanded more of our doctors. We want them to treat us, but also to know what we have, and why we have it, and how to treat and cure it. 

Nepal, a country of 25 million, is struggling out of poverty after a decadelong civil war. Squabbling politicians have paralyzed government, and high unemployment means 1,500 youth leave every day for jobs in Malaysia and the Middle East.

So, as the United Nations International Day of Happiness dawns, Nepalis may seem on the surface to have reason to be unhappy.

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