health care

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

In the weeks following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Hartford Hospital trauma surgeon Dr. Lenworth Jacobs took a close look at patterns of injury the victims suffered. Using lessons learned from the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, he and a group of medical experts, law enforcement, and fire and rescue professionals helped to develop a new national protocol  for medical first responders  in active shooter and mass casualty events.

Now, Jacobs is advocating for a next step: preparing immediate responders. 

Many Health Co-Ops Fold, Others Survive Startup Struggles

Nov 26, 2015

Thousands of Americans are again searching for health insurance after losing it for 2016. That's partly because some large, low-cost insurers — health cooperatives, set up under the Affordable Care Act — are folding in a dozen states.

Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans on the insurance marketplaces. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage.

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A nationwide shortage of saline solution, a fluid commonly used in I.V. bags in hospitals, is prompting response from the U.S. Senate. 

Saline solution is, essentially, sterile salt water. It's used in hospitals to hydrate patients and to mix and dilute medication.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Eleven years ago, Vermont followed suit. But doctors still know surprisingly little about the pharmacology of cannabis. And a Vermont-based think-tank is hoping to transform the industry by applying new scientific rigor to an old drug.

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When it comes to giving birth, white women have better health care outcomes than black and Hispanic women. That's according to a new study, which examined hospital re-admission rates following delivery in Connecticut. 

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It's not uncommon to see someone wearing a prosthesis, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent many veterans home minus a limb. While losing a limb is a life-changing event, a good prosthetist can "carve" a prosthesis with just the right fit. It's a long process that can take years to perfect. 

Limbs today vary from simple body-powered prostheses moved by cables to a "fully robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl 45 pounds and is controlled by the wearer's mind." As the stigma of a prosthesis lessens, amputees are seeking enhancement over replacement, opting for limbs that transcend what's biologically possible, even if lacking the aesthetic of a natural limb.

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Union leaders said they've reached a tentative deal that will stop a threatened strike at 20 Connecticut nursing homes and provide a $15 per hour minimum wage to certified nursing assistants. 

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Health insurance co-ops are companies that were given federal incentives to compete for business under the Affordable Care Act. Roughly two dozen of them set up shop across the country. Now, only half are still in business, and one of them is in Connecticut. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Connecticut Hospital Association launched a new digital campaign this week decrying Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed cuts to hospitals.

Courtesy of Access Health CT

The third year of health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is here. But the goal now isn’t just increasing the number of people with insurance. It’s also making sure they go to the doctor. 

Connecticut's health insurance marketplace is providing a checklist of materials people need in order to purchase coverage through the exchange.

For decades, African-American women have been less likely to get breast cancer than white women, but that health advantage has now all but disappeared.

"For a while we've seen the increase in black women and stable rates in white women," says Carol DeSantis, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society who led the study. "Even though we'd seen the trend," she says, "it's sort of shocking."

Month after month, Natalia Pedroza showed up at the doctor's office with uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. Her medications never seemed to work, and she kept returning to the emergency room in crisis.

Walfred Lopez, a Los Angeles County community health worker, was determined to figure out why.

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Cancer that spreads to the brain often results in a terminal diagnosis, but new research out of Yale University School of Medicine says that's not always the case and is pointing toward an even more promising future for genetic testing and personalized medicine.

Are OB-GYN Well Visits Short-Changing Women?

Oct 26, 2015
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During their childbearing years, many women view their obstetrician-gynecologists as primary care physicians, seeing them for preventive health care as well as for reproductive-related issues.

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The American Cancer Society changed its recommendation for how often women should get mammograms. The new guidelines push back the recommended age for annual mammograms for most women from age 40 to 45. Some experts say the change is warranted and data-driven, while others say it'll lead to possible delays in detecting breast cancer. 

And Planned Parenthood is no stranger to headlines. Last month a heated exchange in Congress over de-funding the women’s health care agency, an effort that failed to pass the U.S. Senate. A highly edited sting video showed Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donations as impetus for the de-funding efforts. Some argue that tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on an organization that so many find objectionable in nature. 

OK, When Am I Supposed To Get A Mammogram?

Oct 20, 2015

If you're confused about when to start getting mammograms and how often you should be getting them, you're not alone. The very organizations that are responsible for telling us when and how often to get those screenings don't agree.

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Access to health care has improved significantly since Obamacare, with big gains for previously uninsured minorities who were unable to gain access before the law took effect. But insurance isn’t the only barrier to overcome. Entrenched cultural beliefs and the way we deliver care can also limit access.

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Navigating our healthcare system is frustrating and time-consuming enough when you're healthy. But what if you get a serious diagnosis? You'll probably have to deal with multiple doctors' offices and their front-desk staffs, a hospital or clinic that may not be familiar, and a sudden deluge of paperwork, phone calls, and appointments. The chances for confusion and miscommunication multiply all along the chain -- and this can lead to problems ranging from annoying clerical mistakes to serious medical errors.

Rhode Island’s largest provider of hospice care will merge with an Eastern Massachusetts hospice provider. The deal involves Home Care and Hospice of New England, which plans to join Hope Health. 

Home Care and Hospice of New England says in a statement the merger will create the largest nonprofit hospice provider in New England. The parent organization will adopt the Hope Health brand name and operate three nonprofit subsidiaries, two in Rhode Island and one in Massachusetts. That includes a visiting nurse service. 

Four companies running urgent care centers in New York have agreed to disclose more fully which insurance plans they accept, following an inquiry by the state's attorney general that found unclear or incomplete information on their websites that could result in larger-than-expected bills for consumers.

As glucose monitors, continuous ultrasound systems, Fitbits and other wearable technology become more prevalent, the devices are changing the way doctors care for their patients and the way patients care for themselves.

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Opioid overuse is America’s “silent epidemic,” affecting far too many of the roughly eight million people on opioid painkillers.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC says overprescribing is to blame.  "Every single day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Methadone," he said. "These drugs are commonly prescribed in every community, and a surge in prescriptions has been the main force of this epidemic."

With his ambulance sirens blaring, Edmund Hassan speeds to a home in South Boston after getting a call that someone there is unconscious. He's deputy superintendent of Boston Emergency Medical Services, and he suspects an opioid overdose. These days, he says, his workers administer Narcan, the drug that reverses that kind of overdose, roughly three times in every eight-hour shift.

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Hartford HealthCare has broken off merger talks with Day Kimball Healthcare, blaming Governor Dannel Malloy's plan to cut Medicaid reimbursement payments.

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Kathy Navaroli, 50, of Windsor, hadn’t seen a primary care doctor in years when she decided to go for a physical this summer.

She didn’t ask about preventive care screenings, such as a mammogram or Pap test, in part because she worried they might involve an insurance co-pay or deductible. Her household income is below $30,000 a year.

“I got a physical, they did some blood work, and that was it,” Navaroli said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, alongside dozens of law enforcement officers, medical experts and advocates Tuesday, announced a new campaign designed to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic.

When you walk into a doctor’s office for the first time, you might be asked to fill out a slew of forms. Many include a box to check for your gender: male or female. But what if that’s not an easy—or a comfortable—question to answer? That’s just one example of what keeps many transgender patients from getting the medical care they need.