The Pulse

The Pulse is written by Kristin Gourlay, an award winning health care reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Full archive of The Pulse can be found here.

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The Pulse
2:20 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

At The Crossroads: Despite More Cases, Funding For Hep C Pales Next To HIV

Graph from the Rhode Island Public Health Association brief "Hepatitis C: Threat and Opportunity."
Credit Rhode Island Public Health Association / Rhode Island Department of Health

A couple of years ago, I read an issue brief written by Brad Brockmann with the Rhode Island Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights. The brief, called "Hepatitis C: Threat and Opportunity," depicted the number of HIV cases against the number of Hepatitis C cases in Rhode Island in 2007 - 2008 in a bar graph. The bar for the number of hep C cases was much, much higher.

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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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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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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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The Pulse
2:46 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Addicts Convicted On Drug Crimes Face Barriers After Release

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says he hopes legislation to boost funding to treat addiction will move forward this week. Whitehouse and colleagues from both sides of the aisle hosted addiction experts on Capitol Hill this morning to learn more about the challenges that remain for addicts even in recovery.

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The Pulse
3:30 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

At The Crossroads: Hepatitis C Resources In RI

For the past several weeks we've been airing stories from our series, "At the Crossroads: The rise of hepatitis C and the fight to stop it." Maybe you've been wondering, hey, should I get tested? Where can I do that? And what's it like?

Wonder no more. Here's a collection of resources to get you started.

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The Pulse
11:39 am
Fri November 21, 2014

At The Crossroads: How Will Medicare Grapple With Hep C?

My recent story about the high cost of new hepatitis C treatments focused on the difficulty of deciding who gets these new drugs now and who has to wait. That's because, while new drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni (both made by Gilead) promise to cure a lot of people, they're so expensive we simply couldn't afford to treat everyone who's infected right now.

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The Pulse
11:14 am
Thu November 20, 2014

HealthSource RI Rhetoric Heats Up

HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson has penned an op-ed in the Providence Journal to plead her case for keeping the health insurance exchange in local hands. Her commentary comes days after a Projo editorial arguing the state should scrap its exchange.

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The Pulse
12:22 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Health Dept. Releases Ebola Emergency Plan

An Ebola prep cart, with personal protective equipment, at Rhode Island Hospital.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials have unveiled the state’s Ebola emergency response plan. The plan spells out the steps state agencies will take to handle potential cases.

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