Health Care

Local Feature
5:41 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Killer Drugs: Tackling Opioid Addiction And Overdose

Bottle of Oxycodone Tablets
Kristin Gourlay RIPR

A special report on the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. We examine how our problem with prescription painkiller and heroin addiction and overdose got so bad, what it's like to respond to this crisis on the front lines, and how communities, and addicts, can recover.

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Health Care
1:58 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Good Samaritan Law Barred 36 Prosecutions In 2013, Says AG

Police departments from across Rhode Island are reporting on the impact of the state’s relatively new Good Samaritan Law. The law shields from prosecution anyone seeking medical assistance for someone who’s experiencing a drug overdose, with exceptions for crimes involving manufacturing and distributing drugs.

The Good Samaritan law – also known as Good Sam - took effect in June 2012. And the idea was to encourage more people to call 911 for a friend who’s overdosing. Before the law, the caller could be arrested on drug possession or other charges.

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Health Care
9:30 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Parsing Out Rhode Island's Overdose Epidemic

Opioids like oxycodone have contributed to the record numbers of overdose deaths in Rhode Island.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

In the first 9 weeks of this year, 55 Rhode Islanders have died from apparent drug overdoses. Overdose has been the number one cause of accidental death in Rhode Island since 2008, but the problem has been drawing more attention in recent days because of the surprising number of deaths this year alone. Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter Kristin Gourlay has been at work on a documentary about drug overdose and addiction since well before the flood of recent headlines.

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Health Care
11:53 am
Wed February 26, 2014

South County Hospital To Enter Affiliation Talks

Rhode Island’s only independent hospital – South County – announced plans to enter talks with a nonprofit chain about a possible affiliation.

According to a statement, South County Hospital will begin exclusive talks with Southcoast Health System to explore a possible alliance. Southcoast is a nonprofit chain of hospitals, including St. Luke’s in New Bedford and Charlton Memorial in Fall River. South County is Rhode Island’s only remaining independent nonprofit hospital serving patients in southern Rhode Island.

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Health Care
9:14 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Health Director To Speak On State Of Health In Rhode Island

RI Health Department Director Dr. Michael Fine will brief lawmakers on the state of the state's health Wednesday.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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.

“Drug overdose death is what’s keeping us up at night. That’s our single biggest slippage," said Fine.

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Health Care
11:40 am
Mon February 24, 2014

RI Hospitals Post Operating Losses for 2013

Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, a member of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island hospitals posted a nearly $59 million dollar operating loss in 2013. That’s just one aspect of a troubling economic picture emerging in a new report on the state of the state’s hospitals.

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Health Care
2:09 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Overdose Deaths Reach 45; Fentanyl Plus Heroin Still Suspected

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.

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Health Care
9:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Public Voices Concern Over Growing Number Of Overdose Deaths

Some 170 people gathered to discuss overdose deaths in Rhode Island at Miriam Hospital.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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.

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Health Care
1:16 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Drug Overdose Deaths Spike Again; State Police To Carry Antidote

Naloxone, or Narcan, nasal spray, in a kit carried by Quincy, MA police.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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.

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Health Care
11:45 am
Tue February 11, 2014

HealthSource RI Enrollments Pass 16K; Sign-Up Deadline Nears

HealthSource RI says enrollment numbers have nearly doubled since January.
Credit file / RIPR

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.

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