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.

Aaron Read

Just 5 percent of Rhode Islanders now lack health insurance and the uninsured rate has dropped by more than half since 2012, according to data released today by HealthSourceRI, the state’s Obamacare health exchange.

The rate of Rhode Islanders who lack health insurance has declined from 11 percent in 2012 to 5 percent now.

Anya Rader Wallack, HealthSource director, said the numbers show the Affordable Care Act is working best in states, like Rhode Island, that have expanded Medicaid and run state-based health exchanges, rather than relying on the federal program.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

 Zaven Khachaturian, Ph.D, believes we can find a way to prevent Alzheimer's Disease by 2020 - if the nation commits to that goal and rallies the resources to achieve it. This widely recognized pioneer of Alzheimer's research compares achieving this goal to putting a man on the moon, or mapping the human genome. What once sounded impossible was accomplished in 10 years.  

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has reinstated a task force charged with preventing drug overdose deaths. And she’s asking them for a plan to within 90 days. 

Rhode Island College

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law had a profound effect on the way people with disabilities are treated in the workplace, at school, and in our communities. And recently, Rhode Island settled a complaint that it violated the law by segregating and underpaying developmentally disabled workers.

World Hepatitis Alliance

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 marks the 5th annual World Hepatitis Day, a global awareness-raising event launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance, in concert with the World Health Organization.

On Saturday, August 1st, Providence marks the occasion with "C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C."

The ADA Legacy Project

Sunday marks the anniversary of the signing of the historic act that helped reduce discrimination and remove barriers for people with disabilities.

In 25 years, much has changed: there are more workplace protections for people with disabilities, more ramps and elevators, even more visibility in the media and entertainment of people with disabilities. Of course, there's more to be done to make the world accessible and to give people of all abilities equal opportunities to thrive and participate.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

When Maria Montanaro took the reins of the state department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, she inherited an agency with massive responsibilities, and major challenges. Among them, mounting costs and allegations of abuse at Eleanor Slater Hospital – the state psychiatric and long-term care facility for people with serious illnesses.

Jim Gillen

I first met Jim Gillen, who died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer, a couple of years ago. I was reporting on skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction and overdose. And if you wanted to know about addiction and recovery in Rhode Island, you sought out Jim.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket has won federal funding to train more primary care doctors. The program is focused on caring for kids in poor communities. And the hope is that trainees will decide to stay on after their residencies. The grant will help residents see more children in the hospital's family medicine clinics, add mental health services, and teach residents more about the social determinants of health.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joins Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about the growing importance of primary care in the health care industry.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers introduced a bill requiring Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, in all middle and high schools. But the legislation never made it past a House committee.

Leaving that legislation on the table could have consequences.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Note: I've added a point about the Good Samaritan law, thanks to comments from readers. It's up for consideration now at the Statehouse.

A group of state and federal leaders gathered yesterday for a roundtable discussion on Rhode Island's seemingly intractable drug overdose crisis. Present for that discussion: Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), health dept. director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, behavioral health dept. director Maria Montanaro, Gov. Gina Raimondo, and head of the state police, Col. Steven O'Donnell. Reporters were invited to listen in, then ask a few questions.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee / Webcast

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says sharing electronic health records should be easier. But it isn’t. Most systems aren’t linked to one another and they don’t collect the same data. Whitehouse told a Senate committee today that Rhode Island’s system for sharing patient data, CurrentCare, and similar systems in other states, could help overcome some of those obstacles.


House lawmakers will vote next week on an $8.7 billion dollar state budget. More than a third of it pays for health care and other related services. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joined host Dave Fallon in the studio to walk through some of the highlights. Listen to the audio or read a transcript of their conversation, below.

DAVE: Kristin, welcome. So a major centerpiece of the budget is Governor Gina Raimondo’s plan to quote “Reinvent Medicaid.” Recap for us what that’s about and tell us, did she get what she wanted?

General Mills

School is nearly out for the summer. And that means thousands of children who rely on free or reduced price school meals are at risk of going hungry. That's why there's a USDA-funded summer meals program. In Rhode Island, the program serves an average of 300,000 meals each summer.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded another round of millions of dollars in research funding to two of Rhode Island’s major teaching hospitals. Rhode Island Hospital and Women and Infants are using the money to study cancer and fetal development.

This is the third and final phase of NIH funding for programs called Centers for Biological Research Excellence, or COBRE, at each hospital.