Childhood asthma rates are on the rise across the country. In Rhode Island, it’s about 12 percent, according to the state health department - one of the highest rates in New England. Hiding in that statistic: in some inner city schools, almost half the kids have asthma. Now, a new program aims to help some of the most vulnerable kids manage their asthma better in school, with a little help from their peers.
An athlete with asthma
If you’ve never had an asthma attack, here’s what it’s like:
127 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses since the beginning of this year. That includes 17 in July alone. The numbers had been declining – down to one overdose death in June. But health department officials are alarmed by the sudden spike.
Rhode Island Public Radio has been tracking the state’s opioid addiction and overdose crisis. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joined host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about the recent increase.
Rhode Island’s health department has started tracking the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Agency head Dr. Michael Fine says that’s because those drugs are addictive. And four out of five people who use heroin got started on prescription painkillers. In July, he says, 118,000 Rhode Islanders got prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
Former congressman Patrick Kennedy says the death of comedian Robin Williams shouldn’t overshadow the scores of other Americans who suffer from depression.
Kennedy says his heart goes out to Williams’ family: “But yesterday Robin Williams was not the only one to take his life. There were 100 other Americans who successfully took their lives yesterday alone, and today there will be another hundred Americans who will successfully take their lives,” he said.
Liberians living in Rhode Island rallied on the steps of the Statehouse today to draw attention to the Ebola outbreak that’s killed more than 900 people in West Africa. They're seeking donations to send to Liberia to help stop the spread of the disease.
Dozens showed up to march and chant, holding signs that read “Ebola Be Gone” and “no new cases.” Then they gathered on the steps of the Statehouse, cheering on speakers from the Liberian community. Among them was CCRI student Fanta Yah. She says her family is safe so far from the Ebola virus. But of course, she’s worried.
Local efforts to prevent drug overdose deaths could get a boost, if Congress passes new legislation to expand funding to such programs.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a bill that would make funding available to community organizations and public health agencies to buy and distribute naloxone, or Narcan. That’s a life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose on prescription painkillers or heroin.
Many small businesses will be renewing health insurance coverage for their employees beginning in September. And HealthSource RI head Christine Ferguson says she hopes small business owners will consider plans on the state’s health insurance exchange. They’ll find some new options this time around, she says.
“We are in the finalization of the plan design. And we have plans that cost less than they cost last year," said Ferguson. "And we have a wider range of options. We have more carriers in the market for individuals as well as on the employer side.”
Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed legislation that requires health care providers to tell women if they have dense breast tissue. The law is aimed at helping detect cancers a mammogram might miss.
Dense breast tissue is pretty common, especially in younger women. The issue is that dense tissue can make it more difficult for a mammogram to “see” cancerous growths. You may not be able to tell whether your breasts are made up of more dense tissue, but a radiologist can see it on a mammogram.