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.
More than 75 Rhode Islanders packed a small meeting room at the Peacedale Public Library Monday, to share their suggestions for improving Medicaid while cutting costs. It was one in a series of town hall meetings held by the task force charged with finding $90 million dollars in savings in the program. Nurse Patricia Mackie told organizers how meeting a client’s basic needs first can help prevent expensive hospital stays.
“Cash to pay for prescriptions, clothing, furniture from the furniture bank, finding him an apartment.”
A technicality in the law has meant that children’s psychiatric hospitals could not compete for graduate medical education funding from the federal government. Other kinds of teaching hospitals, including general children's hospitals, have been able to apply for federal funding to train residents and fellows. But after years of trying, Rhode Island’s Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed have gotten the law changed.
Bradley Hospital’s academic director Dr. Greg Fritz says without the funding, the hospital might have to make cuts to its resident training program.
The price of naloxone, a drug that can reverse a drug overdose, has skyrocketed. That’s affecting efforts to prevent overdose deaths. Michelle MacKenzie runs an overdose prevention program at the Miriam Hospital. She says when her program started buying and distributing the injectable overdose rescue drug naloxone, in 2006, it cost about a dollar a vial. Today it’s $15 a vial.
“So if we had to pay $15 a vial, I mean, last year we distributed upwards of 800 kits, which is 1600 vials of naloxone. We would have been like, 200. I mean, think about that,” said MacKenzie.
Rhode Island is still grappling with soaring numbers of drug overdose deaths, many of them involving the painkiller fentanyl. It's not clear the message about the dangers of fentanyl is reaching those at risk.
The first public meeting about Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plans for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, is scheduled for tonight in Woonsocket. Over the course of four such town hall meetings, organizers hope to gather ideas for saving the program millions of dollars as well as improving services.
The Economic Progress Institute’s Linda Katz is a member of Raimondo’s Medicaid working group.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s new budget proposes cutting millions of dollars in payments to hospitals and nursing homes. While their bottom lines have been improving, hospital officials say the cuts could hurt that recovery.
Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to deliver her first State of The State address tonight. The address will give Rhode Islanders their first look at the governor’s spending priorities for the coming fiscal year.
Negotiations continue between Rhode Island Hospital and employees with the Teamsters union. The latest round of talks ended in another stalemate.
The Teamsters represent about 2500 nursing assistants, food service, and other workers at Rhode Island Hospital. They’ve threatened to strike if negotiators can’t agree on job protections and wage hikes, as well as improvements to their retirement plan.
Brain researchers are hoping more Rhode Islanders will enroll in the state’s Alzheimers Disease prevention registry. The goal is to find candidates for clinical trials to find new therapies for Alzheimers.