rhode island department of health

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For the past week, we’ve been focusing on "Children in Crisis," our series about Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The agency is struggling to cope with an influx of neglect and abuse cases and has run into financial trouble. Now, we explore how a national "home visiting"  program aims to keep families from entering the system in the first place.

Immunization Action Coalition

Protestors are asking the state health department to abolish the requirement that all seventh graders receive the HPV vaccine, which can prevent cervical and other kinds of cancers. Parents can request an exemption. But the groups say they’re still opposed to the mandate. The health department has added additional community meeting dates to respond to public concerns.

US Marine Corps / via Wikimedia Commons

The rising number of overdose deaths has strained the resources of the state’s only medical examiner’s office. Limited staffing and a growing number of requests have slowed down investigations – and threaten the office’s accreditation.

State health officials say bacterial meningitis did not take the life of a 13-month-old Tuesday, as previously suspected. Instead, the cause of death was a rare complication from a very common infection.

Health officials say a 13-month-old Rhode Islander died Tuesday from a rare complication of Group A Streptococcus – the same bacteria that causes strep throat.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island is facing a litany of serious health issues – from a rising number of overdose deaths to a spike in sexually transmitted infections. It’s up to the new director of the state’s health department, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, to address those epidemics and more. Scott is an infectious disease doctor who has spent the past few years consulting with the Department of Health. We recently sat down with her to learn more about how she’s approaching her new role.

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