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 WFPL 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.

Ways to Connect


As the debate about receiving more Syrian refugees continues, a Hasbro Children’s Hospital doctor worries about refugees who have already made the journey to Rhode Island.

Dr. Carol Lewis runs the health clinic for refugee children at Hasbro. She says she worries about how the escalating back-and-forth about accepting refugees will affect her teenage patients in particular.

“They’re hearing this stuff on the news. And how must that make them feel? When you hear these terribly un-welcoming comments about refugees," said Lewis.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

On this Thanksgiving day, most Rhode Islanders are enjoying a big meal and time with family and friends. But there’s no time off for the state’s emergency departments – ready around the clock to treat whatever comes their way. 

Rhode Island Hospital emergency department director Dr. David Portelli says that’s usually kitchen accidents, and the results of overindulgence. “When we do look at the numbers, we do see there’s more lacerations – about three times as many by percent – and some more episodes of congestive heart failure.”

Ian Donnis / RIPR

For her first Thanksgiving as governor, Gina Raimondo says she’ll be with family at her mother’s home in Greeneville. Raimondo says the menu for 20 will include some typical dishes.

“And we’ll have all the regular fixings plus...a lot of macaroni," said Raimondo. "Of course we’ll have the turkey and the stuffing, but in our house it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if you don’t also have the pasta.”

Raimondo says she wishes all Rhode Islanders a Happy Thanksgiving. 

T.F. Green Airport Security Gate
Catherine Welch / RIPR

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. T.F. Green Airport officials expect a rush through Sunday. But they’ve planned ahead to help travelers unwind.

Health care spending in Rhode Island has been relatively flat, even decreasing in some areas. That’s according to a new study about the total cost of health care in the state. 

In fact, Rhode Island has some of the lowest health care costs in New England. But out-of-pocket spending for health care in Rhode Island – on things like co-pays and deductibles - has been increasing at a faster rate than what insurers pay.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

About 72% of seventh graders got the HPV vaccination, according to preliminary data from the state health department. The HPV vaccine was a new requirement for this school year, and it generated complaints from some parents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationally, 60% of girls between 13 and 17 had at least one HPV dose, and 41% of boys between 13 and 17 got at least one HPV dose in 2014. The recommendations are for boys and girls to receive all three doses by the time they finish high school.

Rhode Islanders with Medicaid coverage may have a more difficult time finding a doctor. And every obstetrics and gynecology practice in the state has a waiting list. Those are just two of the findings in a massive survey just completed by the state’s health department.

RI Dept. of Health

Rhode Island may not have enough primary care doctors to meet the need. That’s one conclusion from a major survey of the state’s health care inventory. Another conclusion: mental health resources are lacking.   

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

That’s a loaded question, but one that Brown University President Christina Paxson tried to unpack at a lecture Monday night. 

Photo courtesy of Care New England

Care New England has entered exclusive talks with Southcoast Health System, a southeastern Massachusetts chain of community hospitals, about a possible affiliation. If state and federal regulators approve the partnership, the combined organization would become one of the largest in New England.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Children in Crisis is a radio and online series exploring Rhode Island's troubled child welfare system. Stories investigate what's broken, how children and families are affected, and what's being done to fix the system.

Rhode Islanders have until December 23rd to pay for new health insurance on HealthSource RI, the state’s version of Obamacare. Existing customers will be automatically re-enrolled in a similar plan.

And spokeswoman Maria Tocco says that means their health insurance coverage should be seamless: “Existing customers, if they continue to make their regular monthly payments, they’ll have uninterrupted coverage through January," says Tocco. "They’ll continue to receive bills and as long as they pay them their coverage will go on uninterrupted.”

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott has laid out a plan to improve Rhode Islanders’ health over the coming year.  She described the plan to lawmakers Tuesday evening, a common gesture from the state's top health official. One of her overarching priorities is to reduce disparities across the state.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health Department Director Doctor Nicole Alexander-Scott has laid out a plan to improve Rhode Islanders’ health over the coming year.  She described the plan to lawmakers Tuesday evening. One overarching priority is to reduce disparities across the state.


Rhode Island’s online health insurance marketplace is adding new staff to handle an expected increase in customer service calls. HealthSource RI is in its second week of open enrollment. Spokeswoman Maria Tocco says the customer service center is anticipating higher demand during the enrollment period.

“This week we’ll be adding about 15 new contact center reps. And that number will continue to increase through mid-december.”

By then, Tocco says, the center should have about 120 reps ready to take calls.