Health Care

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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Rhode Island lawmakers have once again introduced legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Proponents want to tax and regulate the drug like alcohol.

Lawmakers have been trying to pass marijuana legalization laws for years. This time they can point to the experiences of several other states that have already passed such laws. The Senate bill would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to have up to an ounce of pot, or grow a couple of plants at home. It would also allow retailers to sell marijuana, as long as they include a safety warning.

Researchers are launching a new clinical trial for treatments that could prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The trial is one of many Alzheimer's-related projects underway in the Ocean State.

Office of Gov. Gina Raimondo

Gov. Gina Raimondo has nominated a new leader for the state Dept. of Health.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott is currently Consultant Medical Director for the state health department’s division of infectious diseases, focusing on HIV and AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other infections. She’s a board-certified specialist in infectious disease in both children and adults. Alexander-Scott is also on the faculty of Brown University’s medical school. She studied medicine at the State University of New York Upstate Medical School and received a Masters in Public Health from Brown.

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a ban on so-called powdered alcohol. Yes, that’s a thing, and no, it isn’t legal yet in the United States.

A senate committee is scheduled to consider a couple of bills that would ban a substance known as powdered alcohol – a product that isn’t available yet in this country. It’s alcohol in powder form, to which you add water and mix.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo is asking a group of healthcare leaders to tackle the cost of Medicaid. The program provides healthcare for poor and elderly Rhode Islanders.

The per-patient cost for Medicaid in Rhode Island is the second highest in the nation, and the rising price tag is eating up too much of the state budget. That was the message from Governor Gina Raimondo, as she signed an executive order to create a working group on Medicaid.

Raimondo said if the state doesn’t address the issue, the consequences could be dire.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

State police and state and federal health officials are investigating the apparent abuse of three patients with profound disabilities at the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital. Gov. Gina Raimondo said the alleged abuses are upsetting.

Raimondo said Maria Montanaro, the new director she appointed to state department of behavioral healthcare, is conducting a robust investigation.

Hasbro Offers Summer Camp For Kids With Asthma

Feb 26, 2015

Hasbro Children’s Hospital is accepting applications for its summer camp for kids with asthma. Hiking, swimming, or canoeing at summer camp may be challenging for kids with asthma. But Hasbro’s camp makes it easier. That’s because doctors and nurses are on on-site to treat any respiratory issues that may arise.

Director Miosotis Alsina said the camp is an opportunity for kids to meet others with similar health issues. “They’re able to interact with other children in a group setting and learn from one another, also learn from a group of doctors," said Alsina.

A union that represents the majority of workers recently laid off at Women and Infants Hospital is challenging the job cuts in federal court.

They get to stay on the job until at least Thursday. That’s when a federal judge will hear the union’s challenge. Women and Infants announced the lay-offs this week for more than 40 employees, including certified nurses assistants, imaging technicians, food and laundry service workers.

About 15,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island members may be among the victims of a massive cyber attack. Health insurance giant Anthem, which offers Blue Cross plans in other states, revealed that hackers had stolen the personal information of nearly 80 million customers earlier this month. Anthem offers Blue Cross plans in other states.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island chief privacy officer Martha Holt Castle said they’re working with Anthem to repair the damage. Meanwhile, a letter will be sent to affected Rhode Islanders.

Women & Infants hospital is laying off 41 employees and reducing hours for half a dozen others. The hospital blames the job cuts on dropping birth rates in Rhode Island, combined with changes in the way insurance and federal healthcare plans pay hospitals. Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison reports.

According to Women & Infants Senior Vice President for Patient Care Angelleen Peters-Lewis, the focus now is better outcomes, not more procedures.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Workers at Rhode Island Hospital have threatened to strike as contract negotiations reach an impasse. A federal mediator has been called in to help broker a deal between the hospital and members of the Teamsters union. The Teamsters represent certified nurses’ assistants and unit assistants, people who help care for patients.

What could a strike mean for patients and employees? Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon to sort through the issues.

Health officials plan to evaluate the effectiveness of a new vaccine for bacterial meningitis given en masse to Providence College students. Researchers will collect throat swabs from some of the thousands of students vaccinated over the next few months.

After two students at Providence College came down with meningitis, health officials rushed to vaccinate more than 3500 students to contain a potential outbreak. So far, no new cases have cropped up.

Members of the Teamsters union working at Rhode Island Hospital voted Wednesday evening to authorize a strike. Don’t expect to see picket lines immediately.

The vote simply gives union leadership the authority to give the hospital 10 days' notice before striking. But members could walk off the job in a couple of weeks if they don’t reach a new contract deal with hospital management. A federal mediator has been called in, according to hospital officials.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A Providence man has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge for selling the illicit drug fentanyl - a potent painkiller sometimes laced in heroin - that led to a woman’s overdose death. It’s the first time Rhode Island prosecutors have brought murder charges in connection with an overdose death. But the trend is taking hold nationwide.