rhode island department of health

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

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

An advocacy group opposing the new HPV vaccine requirement for seventh graders is raising money to bring the fight to the state capital. Their efforts may hit a roadblock.

 A spokeswoman says some House republicans plan to pre-file legislation aimed at reversing a new HPV vaccine requirement for middle school students. Representatives Robert Nardolillo (R-Coventry) and Justin Price (R-Hopkinton, Exeter, Richmond) have spoken against the new requirement.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy, some Rhode Island residents are still dealing with the aftermath. And it’s not just damage to buildings and property. These Rhode Islanders are struggling with mental illness related to stress. 

Screen shot / Rhode Island Department of Health

The state health department has launched an online survey for Rhode Islanders to rank their health care experiences. The results will be used as part of an effort to bring down costs and boost quality. They’ll also help officials decide whether new healthcare facilities and services are needed.

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.

Rhode Island Department of Health

More than half of Native American children in Rhode Island live in poverty. The infant mortality rate for blacks is twice that of whites in Rhode Island.

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The Rhode Island Department of Health did a comprehensive analysis to figure out which drinking water sources are most vulnerable to climate change to help water suppliers plan for the future. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza sat down with the June Swallow, chief of the Office of Drinking Water Quality at the state health department. She oversees the project called SafeWater Rhode Island


This week, officials from the state's health and human services agency are testifying at the Statehouse about proposed budgets for their departments. Some of the potential budget cuts, they say, seem manageable, but others they're hoping might be reversed or reduced.

Take Rhode Island’s poison control center, for example.

Rhode Island shares a poison control center with Massachusetts. It’s a toll-free number plus a staff of experts who can provide medical advice for people who suspect poisoning.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Natural disasters and extreme weather events cause great physical damage, but they can also take a toll on mental health. That’s the topic the state Department of Health and the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council will explore this week at workshops they are co-sponsoring.

The workshops are tailored for mental health practitioners, health department employees, and the general public.

Rhode Island Department of Health

Dr. Michael Fine has led the state’s department of health since 2001. Friday marks his last day at the agency. 

He came to our studios this week to look back on his accomplishments, and offer some advice to his successor, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. Fine told us that, as he leaves office, Rhode Islanders are not as healthy as they could be. But despite the challenges people face, there’s progress to be proud of.