Health Care

RIPR FILE

Department of Children, Youth, and Families officials told a joint senate committee Wednesday they're making progress addressing 20 recommendations lawmakers issued in January.

Jamia McDonald was appointed to oversee those changes. Among a long list of initiatives underway at the child welfare agency, McDonald told committee members DCYF is working on improving the way new cases are handled and on moving more children out of group homes.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Officials from the state’s child welfare agency go before a joint senate committee Wednesday. They’re expected to update lawmakers on their progress addressing some of the department’s shortcomings.

In January, a task force led by Rhode Island Senator Lou DiPalma recommended major changes at the Department of Children Youth and families. That’s in part because the agency was running over budget and because of concerns about practices like sending dozens of kids to out-of-state group homes. DiPalma said this hearing is intended to get an update on the recommendations.

The Crow's Nest / University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Providence city officials say they want to be more inclusive of transgender employees and retirees. That includes extending health insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery.

Providence officials say the city’s health plan will now cover a suite of services for employees and retirees who identify as transgender. That includes gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, and behavioral health care.

Rhode Island’s largest health care network will close six group homes by the end of August. Lifespan affiliate, Gateway Healthcare, blames reimbursement rates for the closures.

The closures will affect dozens of adults with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses, and a little more than a dozen kids in state care. They range in age from five to 18. Gateway says Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of their care. Executive office of health and human services secretary Elizabeth Roberts acknowledges that’s a challenge.

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University has launched the state’s first bachelor’s degree program in emergency medical services. The new major aims to prepare students to become paramedics and administrators – but not necessarily doctors.

About two dozen colleges and universities nationwide now offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in emergency medical services. That’s according to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. The programs range in focus from preparing students to be EMTs to grooming future health care administrators.

Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, which manages thousands of the state’s Medicaid patients, has found a way to bring down health costs for some of its highest need patients. The organization’s chief medical officer Paco Trilla says the Health@Home program targeted about 450 patients with multiple chronic conditions. They were using a lot of medical services, but not getting better.                

South County Hospital wants to clarify how it plans to work with other health care systems. Hospital officials now say the word “partnership” doesn’t adequately describe their plans.

South County Hospital CFO Tom Breen recently told Rhode Island Public Radio his organization wants to partner with another, larger health care system to improve service for patients. South County CEO Lou Giancola now says the word “partner” doesn’t mean the hospital is looking for a new owner.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Secular and religious factions are forming over proposed “right to die” legislation making its way through the Senate. A hearing on the proposed bill is slated for Thursday. The proposed legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally sound patients to end their lives with the help of a physician.

The Rhode Island Catholic Conference is a vocal critic of the legislation, saying it violates the sanctity of life.

There’s only one independent hospital left in Rhode Island. But South County Hospital is ramping up efforts to find a partner.

South County Hospital in Wakefield has been looking for a partner to help boost its prospects. At one time the 100-bed facility was reportedly exploring a relationship with an out-of-state health system. But South County CFO Tom Breen says he’d like to find a local partner.

“We are still looking," said Breen. "Again we certainly feel there are great systems in Rhode Island. How we work with them has yet to be determined.”

file/CVS Health

Woonsocket-based CVS Health has agreed to acquire a provider of nursing home pharmacy services. The acquisition of Omnicare expands a growing line of business for the pharmacy giant.

On Tuesday, two Rhode Island House committees will take another close look at Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budgets for Medicaid and the state’s health and human services agency. The Senate heard similar proposals last week.

The hearings offer another opportunity for public testimony and committee members’ questions before the budgets hit the full House and Senate for consideration.

Rhode Island Community Food Bank will begin delivering boxes of food to low-income seniors. That’s thanks to the expansion of a federal program for seniors in need, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Boxes of canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, pasta and other items will be delivered to low income elderly Rhode Islanders starting this summer. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) helped secure federal funding to bring the US Department of Agriculture nutrition program for poor seniors to Rhode Island and six other states.

Health care workers rallied at the Rhode Island Statehouse today to call for better wages. The Service Employees International Union has concerns about budget cuts for Medicaid.

The union represents about 4000 nurses, CNAs, and service employees who work in nursing homes and hospitals. The union has issued a list of proposals it says could help the state trim millions of dollars from Medicaid and boost pay for low wage workers.

Bannister House

There’s a potential buyer for a nursing home in Providence that’s facing financial difficulties. Bannister House first opened its doors in the 1890s to care for elderly African Americans. 

Now, Centers Health Care, a New York-based company, has agreed to provide a cash infusion for Bannister House. Centers is waiting for an answer on its bid to buy the bankrupt facility. Court-appointed receiver Rick Land says Bannister House was on track to run out of money in the next few weeks.

Jurors have awarded more than $25 million dollars to a Rhode Island couple for medical malpractice at Rhode Island Hospital. It’s one of the largest negligence verdicts ever in the state.

In august 2009, Carl Beauchamp went to Rhode Island Hospital after hitting his head. He left with severe and permanent injuries, so severe his wife asked a judge to make her Beauchamp’s legal guardian.

They sued the hospital for malpractice. In their complaint, the couple accuses doctors of misdiagnosing Beauchamp and missing signs his condition was worsening.

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