Health Care

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Brown University’s medical school has teamed up with Rhode Island Hospital to teach future doctors how to address opioid addiction and overdose. They’re using a nearly $1million federal dollar grant to create a new curriculum.

And the need could not be more urgent. Just last week the Centers for Disease Control reported that half a million Americans have died from accidental drug overdoses in the past 15 years, mostly involving prescription painkillers and increasingly heroin.

RIPR FILE

Time is running out to enroll in health insurance if you don’t already have it. And, the penalty for not having insurance goes up substantially in 2016.

If you can afford health insurance but don’t buy it, the federal government will charge every adult in your household $695 dollars or two-point-five percent of your annual household income, whichever is higher. 

And if you can’t afford health insurance or don’t get it through work, you’re not alone. Most of the enrollees on HealthSource RI to-date have qualified for some kind of financial assistance.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department officials have a plan to compel more doctors to use a prescription drug monitoring program. That’s one piece of the effort to fight opioid addiction and overdose.

A prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is an online database. It’s supposed to help anyone who prescribes controlled substances like painkillers or anxiety medications look up a patient’s history with those drugs. The idea is to spot signs of trouble, like dangerous drug combinations, or addiction. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island Hospital wants to deliver more babies. The hospital is seeking permission to open a new inpatient obstetrics unit.

The new unit would cost $20 million dollars, according a letter of intent filed with the state health department. In that letter, Rhode Island Hospital says it would be ready to take patients in a couple of years. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health insurers in Rhode Island can no longer limit or deny coverage based on gender identity. That's due to new rules from the state health insurance commissioner.

Kristin Gourlay

Gov. Gina Raimondo asked a group of health care experts and stakeholders to come up with a plan to keep health care spending in check. She asked them to consider placing a cap on all health care spending, and other measures to slow spending growth. This week the group announced four recommendations for her consideration.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Health Insurance Commissioner has received some patient complaints that insurers failed to cover the mental illness or addiction treatment  they needed. 

RIPR file photo

Public health officials gathered at the Statehouse Monday to mark World AIDS Day, pledging to increase the number of HIV-positive residents who receive testing and treatment.

The state has joined an international initiative known as the "90 90 90 campaign," which seeks to get 90 percent of people with HIV diagnosed and into treatment for the virus by 2020.

Currently an estimated 2,840 Rhode Islanders are HIV-positive.

RIPR FILE

As the debate about receiving more Syrian refugees continues, a Hasbro Children’s Hospital doctor worries about refugees who have already made the journey to Rhode Island.

Dr. Carol Lewis runs the health clinic for refugee children at Hasbro. She says she worries about how the escalating back-and-forth about accepting refugees will affect her teenage patients in particular.

“They’re hearing this stuff on the news. And how must that make them feel? When you hear these terribly un-welcoming comments about refugees," said Lewis.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

On this Thanksgiving day, most Rhode Islanders are enjoying a big meal and time with family and friends. But there’s no time off for the state’s emergency departments – ready around the clock to treat whatever comes their way. 

Rhode Island Hospital emergency department director Dr. David Portelli says that’s usually kitchen accidents, and the results of overindulgence. “When we do look at the numbers, we do see there’s more lacerations – about three times as many by percent – and some more episodes of congestive heart failure.”

Health care spending in Rhode Island has been relatively flat, even decreasing in some areas. That’s according to a new study about the total cost of health care in the state. 

In fact, Rhode Island has some of the lowest health care costs in New England. But out-of-pocket spending for health care in Rhode Island – on things like co-pays and deductibles - has been increasing at a faster rate than what insurers pay.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

About 72% of seventh graders got the HPV vaccination, according to preliminary data from the state health department. The HPV vaccine was a new requirement for this school year, and it generated complaints from some parents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationally, 60% of girls between 13 and 17 had at least one HPV dose, and 41% of boys between 13 and 17 got at least one HPV dose in 2014. The recommendations are for boys and girls to receive all three doses by the time they finish high school.

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.   

Photo courtesy of Care New England

Care New England has entered exclusive talks with Southcoast Health System, a southeastern Massachusetts chain of community hospitals, about a possible affiliation. If state and federal regulators approve the partnership, the combined organization would become one of the largest in New England.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Children in Crisis is a radio and online series exploring Rhode Island's troubled child welfare system. Stories investigate what's broken, how children and families are affected, and what's being done to fix the system.

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