Kristin Gourlay

Health Care Reporter

Kristin Espeland Gourlay joined Rhode Island Public Radio in July 2012. Before arriving in Providence, Gourlay covered the environment for Louisville, KY’s NPR station. And prior to that, she was a reporter and host for Wyoming Public Radio.

Gourlay earned her MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and her BA in anthropology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.

She’s won multiple national, regional, and local awards for her reporting, and her work has aired on NPR and stations throughout the country. She’s particularly proud of the variety of protective clothing she’s had to wear on assignment, including helmets, waders, safety goggles, and snowshoes.

Originally from Chicago, IL, Gourlay loves music, cooking, and spending time with her family.

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Health Care
6:00 am
Thu December 18, 2014

At The Crossroads, Part 7: Behind Bars, Hep C Takes A Toll On Inmates, And Budgets

Outside the medium security prison in Cranston.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s prisons are grappling with a dilemma. Hundreds of inmates have hepatitis C. New drugs can cure it. But they’re so expensive the department of corrections can’t afford them for every inmate who’s sick.

In this next part of our series “At the Crossroads,” a look at how prison officials decide who gets treated first.

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The Pulse
2:26 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Ever Sign An Agreement With Your Doctor?

At a public hearing yesterday at the Dept. of Health, doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses voiced their opposition to the department's proposed regulations governing the prescribing of opioids. The new rules would require prescribers to sign a fairly lengthy agreement with patients, alerting them to the risks of taking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, and agreeing to certain kinds of monitoring. Many health care providers feel these agreements aren't necessary and that, in fact, they're patronizing.

What do you think?

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Health Care
3:26 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Proposed Rules Could Change Painkiller Prescribing

Donna Policastro, representing Rhode Island nurses, says the proposed regulations are unnecessary.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials are considering new regulations governing how health care providers prescribe painkillers. So far this year, 212 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses, most involving opioids, according to the health department.

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Health Care
3:08 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Need A Little One On One? HealthSource RI Enrollment Fair

Customers get help enrolling in HealthSource RI.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The deadline to renew health insurance plans through Health Source RI is coming up on December 23rd.  The state’s health insurance exchange is holding an enrollment fair today in Warwick to help customers in person. We checked in with a few to find out how it’s going.

Warwick resident Kim Darcy was waiting her turn to speak with a health insurance counselor. Darcy plans to re-enroll. And she says she’s thankful there’s a plan she can afford after going without for many years.

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The Pulse
10:38 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Agency Sues Over Hep C Drug Price; Researchers Compare Effectiveness

No surprise here: the Philadelphia Transportation Authority is suing Gilead, maker of the expensive new hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, over the cost of those drugs. A course of Sovaldi, not including drugs you might have to take in combination with it, as some patients do, costs $84,000. Harvoni, which won FDA approval more recently, costs $94,000.

According to the Philadelphia Star Tribune:

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The Pulse
6:00 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Back From Liberia, RI Doc Describes Heartbreak And Hope

Community training team in Liberia, with Dr. Timothy Flanigan in background.
Credit Timothy Flanigan

A Rhode Island doctor has just returned from Liberia where for three months he trained health care workers fighting the deadly Ebola virus. Dr. Timothy Flanigan is one of several Rhode Islanders who have traveled to the West African nation to fight the disease that the World Health Organization estimates to have killed some 6500 people.

Shortly after arriving back home, he sat down with me to talk about what he saw and where he sees hope.

You can listen to our conversation here.

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Health Care
8:52 am
Tue December 9, 2014

RI Nursing Homes Collecting Donations To Help Fight Ebola

Nursing homes across Rhode Island will be collecting donations to help fight Ebola in West Africa. That’s because, the state’s nursing home association recognized a need to help its large community of West African workers.

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RI News
2:49 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Possible Flooding, High Winds Today

National Weather Service map shows winter storm moving along the east coast.
Credit National Weather Service

Here’s how National Weather Service meteorologist Kim Buttrick described what’s in store for Rhode Island today:

“It’s a potpourri of weather elements.”

Buttrick said we could see up to two and a half inches of rain. That’s why there’s a coastal flood watch, and there could be some flooding further inland.

“Culverts, street flooding, ponding on roadways, nuisance stuff," said Buttrick. "Nuisance for the morning commute, nuisance for the afternoon commute.”

Buttrick said high winds could toss about southern Rhode Island, with speeds up to 50 miles an hour.

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The Pulse
12:09 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Moving The Needle On Flu Shots

Syringes filled with flu vaccine at a clinic in Providence.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Pun intended.

It's National Influenza Vaccination Week (according to the CDC), which I read as yet one more way to snap us out of complacency and into a clinic for a flu shot.

But it seems no amount of exhortation will move some people closer to the needle (or nasal spray).

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Health Care
6:00 am
Fri December 5, 2014

At The Crossroads, Part 6: Veterans Harder Hit By Hep C

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. At a hearing Wednesday, Dec. 3, Sanders wanted to know why new hepatitis C drugs cost so much and how the VA was going to pay for them.
Credit Screenshot of live stream of hearing

In our ongoing series about hepatitis C, we look now at one of the hardest hit populations: veterans. Hep C is three times more prevalent among vets than in the general population. The Veterans Health Administration has the country’s largest hepatitis C screening and treatment program in the country. But that program is struggling to pay for new treatments – and the rising number of veterans who need them.

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