If you’ve walked through the front doors of a hospital lately, you might remember the friendly volunteer who greeted you, or gave you directions. Volunteers have been a mainstay in health care settings for years. But they’ve become an increasingly critical resource as health care dollars are spread thin.
Rhode Island's next governor - whether it's Republican Allan Fung or Democrat Gina Raimondo - will have plenty of challenges to tackle upon taking office. The state's ailing economy will most likely hold the spotlight over the next eight weeks until the general election. But perhaps I could put a few health care items on the agenda for their consideration - and for the general assembly's.
The nation’s largest pharmacy chain has been given the green light to open seven retail health care clinics in Rhode Island. CVS pharmacies’ MinuteClinics would see patients for minor illnesses and perform some routine health screenings. But state health officials' approval comes with several conditions.
A little while ago I mentioned this plan was being drafted, and open for public comment. The final product is available now, and it's worth a read, here: http://www.healthcare.ri.gov/healthyri/resources/SHIPwithAppendix.pdf (.pdf opens another document).
First, this document, the "Rhode Island State Healthcare Innovation Plan," produced out of Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts' office, is a great snapshot of the state's health care system. If you want a primer on our health care system, our biggest health problems, and where the opportunities lie for fixing them, look it over.
Thousands of Rhode Islanders have signed up for health insurance in recent weeks, some for the first time. I'm thinking that means some might not be so familiar with our health care system, or they might not know how to keep costs down with plans that carry higher deductibles or out-of-pocket costs.
So... here are a few tools to help you navigate, from finding the highest quality, to keeping costs down, to managing your own health. It's not an exhaustive list, but a start...if you're starting from scratch!
Lots of news organizations, including this one, are ticking off the year's top 10 stories. I'd like to run through some of Rhode Island's bottom health stories, meaning the ones least likely to have appeared on radar screens - but which should have. And don't worry: there's some good news in here too!
I had a chance to speak to Department of Health director Dr. Michael Fine this morning as he traveled to a conference in Boston. The gathering, put on by the Lown Institute, is "From Avoidable Care to Right Care," convenes "...clinicians, patient advocates, and civic leaders to deepen our mutual understanding of the cultural, scientific, and ethical issues surrounding the overuse of medical services." (Dr.