Rhode Island’s department of health director doctor Michael Fine plans to brief state lawmakers Wednesday on the state of the state’s health.
Fine will update lawmakers on the state’s progress on certain health indicators. Smoking rates are down to about 17 percent. New cases of HIV are falling. But since his last briefing for the General Assembly, Fine said, the needle hasn’t moved in the right direction on another major health challenge – drug addiction and overdose.
Rhode Island's health department director says 45 Rhode Islanders have died from overdoses so far this year. Concerns are growing that a dangerous combination of heroin and Fentanyl is continuing to kill unsuspecting users. The state medical examiner is still investigating, but Fentanyl is suspected in many of these deaths. It's a powerful painkiller, up to 80 times more powerful than heroin. In combination it can kill even habitual users quickly. There's an antidote for overdoses from opioids like heroin and other painkillers. It's called Narcan.
A community forum on drug overdose and addiction drew a standing room only crowd at the Miriam hospital last night. Organizers hope to keep the conversation going beyond the evening’s speeches and questions.
State health authorities say 38 Rhode Islanders have died from suspected illicit IV drug overdoses so far this year, possibly from drugs that may have been laced with a powerful substance called fentanyl. That's despite public warnings the drugs might be tainted.
Drug dealers may be adding synthetic fentanyl to heroin to boost potency or stretch the supply to make more money. But what their customers may not know is that this particular compound is many times more potent than heroin and can kill even habitual IV drug users the first time they take it.
Rhode Island’s online health insurance exchange has nearly doubled enrollment numbers since January. The news comes as the deadline for individuals to get covered is less than two weeks away.
More than 16,000 Rhode Islanders have enrolled in health insurance plans on HealthSource RI as of this past weekend. That’s up from 9800 at the beginning of January. HealthSource RI says most enrollees have qualified for some kind of help paying for those plans – a reduced monthly premium and assistance with co-pays and deductibles.
Help us remember those we've lost to drug overdoses.
Overdoses are claiming more and more lives in our communities. We invite you to share memories of loved ones and friends you've lost to a drug overdose on this shared map. Just drop a pin on the place where the overdose happened or where your loved one lived (no street numbers, just street names, corners, places, etc.), add your loved one's name and date of death, and share a memory or two - a sentence, a word, a prayer, whatever you'd like.
Rhode Island based CVS-Caremark announced Wednesday that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores starting this year. CVS said it is the first national chain to make this move.
The goal is to have cigarettes and other tobacco products off the shelves at its more than 7,600 stores by October 1st. CVS-Caremark’s CEO calls selling tobacco inconsistent with the store’s purpose.
CVS plans to launch a smoking cessation program in the spring, offering information on how to quit and treatment at its pharmacies.
The state’s health department is considering updates to its immunization policy for school kids from preschool through college. The proposals would require flu shots for kids up to age five and the HPV vaccine for kids entering ninth grade.