Health Care

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

As of Tuesday there’s a new way of applying for state benefits like Medicaid and food stamps, or SNAP. It's an online application for all Department of Human Services benefits, all in one place - Rhode Island's biggest information technology project ever. But some advocates for the poor fear there won’t be enough support to help clients make the transition.

angus mcdiarmid/Flickr Creative Commons License


It's standard medical care: Newborn babies are routinely given a shot of vitamin K to help clot their blood. But some parents are declining the shots, in a move that some doctors disagree with.

Aaron Read / RIPR

There’s new federal funding to help Rhode Island fight the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. The money is going toward better data collection, first responders and an overdose hotline.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency is proposing lowering its threshold for childhood lead poisoning to match recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

International Overdose Awareness Day / Pennington Institute (Australia)

International Overdose Awareness Day is being observed around the globe Wednesday. New Englanders are marking the occasion with several events.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning states about an uptick in the availability of counterfeit painkillers. These drugs are contributing to the ongoing opioid addiction and overdose epidemic.

The pills are labeled as OxyCodone or Xanax, for example, but could contain varying amounts of a much stronger opioid painkiller called fentanyl. These are illicit drugs, sold outside of pharmacies. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Vermont officials announced new measures Thursday to expand the availability of a drug that can counteract the effects of an opiate overdose. The drug can now be sold by any Vermont pharmacy without a prescription.

The drug is naloxone, which is often sold under the brand name Narcan, and it's already saving lives in Vermont. Health Commissioner Harry Chen said his department is distributing more and more doses.

“The health department now gives out about 700 doses per month throughout 12 distribution sites,” said Chen.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Vaccination rates for Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, are up among teen boys and girls across the U.S., and particularly in Rhode Island. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 2014 to 2015, HPV vaccination rates among teen boys climbed several percentage points, with about half of all teen boys receiving the vaccine. For girls, who started with higher vaccination rates, the increase was smaller. Roughly 62 percent of teenage girls received the vaccine.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

70 employees at the state Department of Human Services have received layoff notices because of a system-wide reorganization. It's part of a shift to online applications for benefits like food stamps.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Aaron Read / RIPR

The Rhode Island Medical Society and state health officials are partnering with the American Medical Association on a new effort to train doctors who prescribe addictive opioid medications. The groups will develop a toolbox full of resources for prescribers.

Dr. Patrice Harris, chair of the board of the American Medical Association, says doctors and nurses want to curb the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose.  But they often lack the resources and knowledge to act.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Anya Rader Wallack took the position as head of Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for low income residents, in October. Before that she led the state’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI. 

In an email sent to staff, Wallack wrote she accepted the Medicaid position during an especially difficult time, about a week after her husband passed away. She wrote the job has been “a rewarding challenge and a welcome distraction.”

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For the first time, Rhode Island has one of the most complete pictures of the extent of the hepatitis C epidemic. More people are infected, and more are dying from the viral disease than previously known, finds a new study. But  more people are also getting treated – and cured.

Rhode Island Keeps Tabs on Zika

Aug 5, 2016
Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

The Rhode Island Health Department has confirmed 18 cases of Zika virus -- a disease linked to a severe birth defect called microcephaly. 

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report all of the Rhode Island cases were contracted outside of state lines. 

The mosquito known to carry Zika in Florida is not established in Rhode Island. However, the state may be at risk for another mosquito which also carries the virus.