Patrick Skahill

Reporter

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science with an emphasis on health care and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009 and won a PRNDI award in 2011. 

He writes about science for The Beaker. 

Patrick's reporting has appeared in The New York Times and on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He worked for two years as a print reporter at Stonebridge Press in Massachusetts where he covered crime and education. 

A graduate of Villanova University, Patrick holds a bachelor's degree in history with a concentration in Arab & Islamic Studies and a minor in Classical Studies. He holds a master's degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He knows way too much about Seinfeld and is a devoted fan of comedian Hannibal Burress.

He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@wnpr.org.

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Inpatient Care
4:14 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Are Hospital Stays Getting Safer?

Credit scantaur/iStock / Thinkstock

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine says that hospital stays may be getting safer, at least if you're admitted for a heart condition. 

Researchers used medical record data for more than 61,000 patients from 2005 to 2011. They studied more than 20 common problems patients typically encounter after admission to a hospital -- things like drug reactions, bed sores, and infection.

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Ice Bustin'
7:15 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Why the Connecticut River Needs an Ice Breaker During the Cold Season

USCGC Bollard drives down the Connecticut River in Middletown. The 65-foot ship's main mission during the winter is breaking up ice.
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

If you've looked out on the Connecticut River this winter, you may have seen something a bit unexpected: a Coast Guard cutter. It's called the USCG Bollard, and it's been on the river for weeks, dutifully breaking up ice.

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Sexual Assault
7:07 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Legislators Announce Bill On Campus Sexual Assault

Roberta Willis details the components of a proposed campus sexual assault bill.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Lawmakers have drafted legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses. It will be the first bill heard by the Higher Education Committee when it convenes next month.

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Utilities
6:01 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Officials Delay Decision On Fate of UI's Ambitious Tree-Cutting Plan

A downed power line following an ice storm in 2011.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."

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Open Season On Open Land?
2:12 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

State Parks and Forests Aren't as Protected as You Think

Credit Flickr Creative Commons / ChrisHConnelly

If you think Connecticut's roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you're wrong. That's according to a new report from Connecticut's Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren't always preserved forever.

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Leadership Changes
1:11 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Top Esty Aide Named As New Commissioner of DEEP

Robert Klee will take over as the new head of Connecticut's DEEP.
Credit Yale World Fellows

Robert Klee, a lawyer who served as chief of staff to Dan Esty, will take over as the new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Medicine
7:00 am
Wed January 22, 2014

New Anxiety Research Targets Brain Using Magnets

New research underway at Hartford Hospital is using targeted magnetic pulses and MRI imaging to treat generalized anxiety disorder.
Credit Digital Vision / Thinkstock

Patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder usually have two treatment options: medication or counseling. But new research underway at Hartford Hospital is looking to add a third choice -- magnets.

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Game of Cones
2:15 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Brace Yourselves, Potholes Are Coming

Potholes in New York City. This winter's multiple frost/thaw cycles are expected to contribute to a high volume of potholes in the spring.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As cold weather returns to Connecticut, a slew of potholes are expected to appear around the state. According to Jim Mahoney from the Connecticut Transportation Institute, "This is about as perfect as a setup as you can get for potholes, and unfortunately, every road is susceptible to them."

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Epic Epidemiology
4:23 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

How Do Scientists Track Connecticut Flu Outbreaks?

Officials from the Connecticut Department of Public Health say there have been 1,029 influenza reports so far this season.
Credit Stacey Newman/iStock / Thinkstock

Getting an accurate count on flu numbers can be tricky. More than 1,000 cases of flu have been reported in Connecticut this season, but how does the Connecticut Department of Public Health arrive at that number?

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Leadership Changes
12:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Dan Esty To Leave DEEP, Return To Yale

Dan Esty has led Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since 2011.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dan Esty will step down as commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection effective Feb. 3. He told Governor Malloy he plans to return to a teaching position at Yale. 

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Treatment Research
7:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

NIH Diabetes Study Targets New Haven Clinic

Georgina Castellan, left, visits with Elizabeth Magenheimer and Mari Montosa at Fair Haven.
Credit Fair Haven

A new nationwide study funded by the National Institutes of Health is examining treatment options for Type 2 diabetes and a New Haven clinic serving low-income patients has been named a "co-investigator."

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NIMBYISM, Considered
7:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Wind Turbines Have Little Impact on Property Values, Study Finds

A new study observing 122,000 home sales in Massachusetts says nearby wind turbines have little impact on residential property values.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / lamoix

A new UConn report looked at more than 120,000 Massachusetts home sales and found wind turbines have little impact on prices. Carol Atkinson-Palombo is co-author of the paper, which tracked the data spanning a 14-year period.

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Access Health CT
4:28 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Private Insurer Struggles to Keep Up With Wave of Health Care Enrollments

Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said Anthem has faced "some challenges" making sure billing statements and proof of insurance is getting to new enrollees in a timely fashion.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The head of the state's insurance marketplace said his number one priority right now is making sure people who signed up for health care coverage can get it. So far, about 40,000 Connecticut residents have enrolled in private insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said that number rapidly growing.

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Cutting-Edge Science
4:13 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Rare Genetic Mutation Could Lead to New Treatments for Tourette Syndrome

Brain structures implicated in Tourette syndrome. A new Yale study identifies a key correlation between a rare genetic mutation and Tourette's, which could lead to new treatments mitigating some of the disorder's tic-like symptoms.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Researchers at Yale have identified a genetic mutation that that could lead to new treatments for Tourette syndrome.

But before we get into that, what's it like to have Tourette's? Just ask Josh Hanagarne, who's wrestled with it his whole life. Speaking on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, he described what it's like to live with a disorder that's most well-known for its tics and verbal outbursts.

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Trains of History
3:24 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Is It Time to Bring Passenger Service Back to a Historic Connecticut Railroad?

A train on the Housatonic Railroad in Canaan, Connecticut in 2004. Legislators are exploring the possibility of investing in the historic tracks and reopening them to passenger service.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A group in Connecticut would like to see passenger service restored to the Housatonic Railroad and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty seems willing to explore the idea. The 90-mile-long Housatonic Railroad was chartered prior to the dawn of the Civil War and runs from Massachusetts to Danbury. Currently, it serves only freight trains. Its last passenger train ran in 1971.

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Food Waste
7:00 am
Tue January 7, 2014

How a Compost Pile in Danbury is About to Get Richer

Jeff Demers stands on a hill overlooking New England Compost in Danbury, one of three licensed food residual composting facilities in the state. A new law aims to increase that number by targeting large-scale food waste generators.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

A new law went into effect January 1 requiring certain businesses to start recycling their food waste. According to the state, the legislation is aimed at gradually bringing more composting facilities to Connecticut.

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DEEP
4:17 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Environmental Violations Cost Three New Haven Companies $750K

Attorney General George Jepsen says three New Haven companies and their operator, Bruno F. Suraci, Jr., must pay nearly $750,000 in civil violations as the result of environmental violations.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jwellsrobinsonpc

At the center of the investigation was Bruno Suraci, Jr., owner of three metal-finishing businesses near the Quinnipiac River in New Haven. The court ruling, totaling nearly $750,000 in civil penalties, comes for hazardous waste and air pollution violations.

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Mental Health
7:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A "First-Aid" Response to Mental Illness

Janine Sullivan-Wiley, left, and Jennifer DeWitt, were the co-instructors for a class on Mental Health First Aid at the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging. They're holding ALGEE the koala bear, which is the mascot for mental health first aid.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

A group in Connecticut met earlier this month to explore a simple question -- how to intervene if you think someone may be suffering from a mental illness. They were learning about "mental health first aid," which was developed in Australia in 2001 and has captured the attention of many in America, including President Barack Obama.

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Boots Were Made For It
7:00 am
Tue December 31, 2013

New Haven Ranks as Country's Eighth "Most Walkable City"

About 12 percent of New Haven commuters report walking to their jobs, according to U.S. census data.
Yale University Creative Commons

First, let's check the numbers. About 12 percent of New Haven commuters report walking to their jobs, which ranks the Elm City eighth nationally -- that's right alongside Washington D.C. and Boston.

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Rick In Space
6:53 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Space Station Repairs Are Made Following Issues With Space Suit

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio holds the degraded pump module while the International Space Station's robotic arm guides the module to a grapple fixture.
Credit NASA TV

Rick Mastracchio will continue repairs to a damaged cooling system on the International Space Station on Tuesday morning.

The Waterbury native was originally scheduled to conduct his second space walk Monday, but the mission was pushed back following a minor issue with the astronaut's space suit.

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Magic Carpet Ride
6:36 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Connecticut Weighs Feasibility of Carpet Recycling Law

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, stevendepolo

Earlier this year, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring manufacturers to recycle unwanted mattresses generated in the state. Now, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reviewing similar rules for things like carpet and batteries. 

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Rick In Space
10:31 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Waterbury's Rick Mastracchio Repairs International Space Station

Rick Mastracchio of NASA is seen prior to launching aboard the International Space Station in November. Mastracchio and one other astronaut will conduct a space walk on Saturday to make repairs to the International Space Station.
Credit (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio is scheduled to make the first of three space walks on Saturday. He'll replace a pump module on the International Space Station, which broke last week forcing the shutdown of several science experiments and other non-critical systems. 

This will be Mastracchio's seventh EVA. NASA officials say they anticipate the first space walk, on Saturday, will last about six-and-a-half hours. The broken pump he will repair is linked to one of the station's two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside of the space station to regulate equipment temperatures.

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Health
3:00 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Do Vitamin Pills Actually Do Anything?

Credit Gubcio/iStock / Thinkstock

A group of doctors in a leading medical journal are issuing a blunt warning to consumers: "stop wasting money" on vitamins. At least 50 percent of Americans use vitamins or dietary supplements, "despite sobering evidence of no benefit," according to the editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Photography
6:34 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Wadsworth Atheneum Highlights "An Artificial Wilderness"

Edward Burtynsky's "Oxford Tire Pile #1," taken in Westley, Calif. in 1999, is one of the centerpieces of "An Artificial Wilderness," which runs through Feb. 23 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
Edward Burtynsky / Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

It might seem odd for a museum boasting one of the nation's largest collections of the Hudson River School, a 19th-century art movement celebrating the beauty of America's outdoors, to document parking lots and discarded rubber tires. 

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Medical Research
7:00 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Genetic Test Aims to Take Guesswork Out of Drug Dosing

Gualberto Ruano, director of the Genetics Research Center at Hartford Hospital, leads a study aimed at reducing the guesswork in psychiatric drug dosing.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Researchers at Hartford Hospital are looking into a gene that determines how fast the liver clears medication from the body. The goal of the five-year study is to reduce the guesswork in psychiatric drug dosing.

It's a gene with a fancy name: CYP2D6

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O Rly?
5:41 am
Tue December 17, 2013

In Search of the Majestic Snowy Owl on the Connecticut Coast

A Snowy Owl spotted at Stratford Point.
Anthony Zemba Connecticut Audubon Society

Birders in Connecticut are enjoying a rare spectacle this holiday season: the Snowy Owl. I teamed up with Milan Bull from the Connecticut Audubon Society and went searching for this arctic bird, which is capturing the imagination of bird lovers across the state.

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Newtown: One Year Later
5:29 am
Fri December 13, 2013

What's It Like to Live in Newtown?

Sophfronia Scott with her son, Tain, now a fourth grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Credit Sophfronia Scott

Sandy Hook resident Sophfronia Scott never asked to have these conversations, but since the shooting that left 20 students and six educators dead, they follow her. Like when she tells a person from out of town that she's from Sandy Hook.

"There's that stunned silence, and they say, 'Oh. Oh, those poor people. And how are you doing?'" said Scott. "I will tell them right away, because I know they want to ask, and if anything, I know they are afraid to ask. So I will say to them, 'Yes, I'm from Sandy Hook. Yes, my son attends the school. Yes, he was in the building.'"

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Ice Missiles
12:04 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Clean Snow Off Your Car, Or Face Fines

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, imrambi

Motorists who fail to remove ice or snow from their vehicles will face possible fines beginning Dec. 31.

The so-called "ice-missile" legislation requires drivers to remove any "threatening" ice or snow from the hood, trunk, and roof of their car or face a $75 fine. Fines will be even higher if the ice or snow causes property damage. Non-commercial motorists could face a $200 to $1000 penalty for each offense. Commercial violators could be fined between $500 and $1200.

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Blame It On The Wind
5:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Connecticut Asks Upwind States to Clean Up Their Air

An ozone transport map illustrates how out-of-state pollution moves into Connecticut. Red is westerly transported air, which moves hundreds of miles. Yellow is a southerly, nocturnal, low-level jet. Green is short-range pollution, which moves at ground level and city-to-city in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
Credit CT DEEP

Blame it on the wind patterns, which are responsible for moving most of America's air from west to east. Often, that air carries pollution from out-of-state coal plants into Connecticut, which contributes to the formation of ozone. Now, Governor Dannel Malloy and environmental leaders from around the northeast have filed a formal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency saying they've had enough. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
4:48 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Naked, Afraid, and at the Mercy of Producers

Connecticut resident Shane Lewis starred in "Naked and Afraid" a reality television show on the Discovery Channel
Credit Discovery Channel

"Reality TV" is perhaps the biggest misnomer in the entertainment industry today. A better name would probably be "scripted unscripted television." It's not catchy, but at least it's accurate.

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