Health Care

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.


New legislation aimed at increasing access to experimental medical treatments was introduced Wednesday at the Statehouse.  It could broaden access to drugs not yet approved by the FDA.

There is already a process for patients with terminal illness to try out drugs that are still in testing… But Democratic Representative Joseph McNamara wants to make it easier.   He said all the red tape doctors and patients have to cut through takes too long for people who are critically ill. 

Jake Harper / RIPR

A multimedia series about one of the greatest public health challenges of a generation

Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, though most of them don’t know it. But deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise in baby boomers. And throughout New England, new infections are creeping up among a younger generation of injection drug users.

Wikimedia Commons

The American Lung Association has given Rhode Island a mixed report card on tobacco control.  While the state has the third highest cigarette tax, it lags behind in funding prevention.

The state got a “B” for its cigarette tax; the third highest in the nation.  The $3.46 in taxes slapped onto a pack of cigarettes has lowered smoking rates.   However it got an “F” for spending on prevention campaigns. 

Rhode Island is making some progress against hospital-acquired infections. But some infection rates are still higher than the national average.

Jake Harper / RIPR

We're wrapping up our months-long series about one of the greatest public health challenges facing Rhode Island: hepatitis C. Listen online or download our one-hour special: "At the Crossroads: The Rise of Hepatitis C and the Fight to Stop It."

Go behind the series:

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials have rolled out a new campaign against drug addiction. The campaign debuts as the state faces more grim statistics: 232 Rhode Islanders died from apparent accidental drug overdoses in 2014, the same number as in 2013.

You may see their faces on buses, or hear their voices in public service announcements. They’re people in recovery from addiction. They include Jonathan Goyer, a former addict turned recovery counselor. He said  it will take more than advertising to fight drug addiction.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

In 2014, hundreds of Rhode Islanders died from accidental drug overdoses.  Thousands more remain addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin. For those who inject the drugs, there’s another risk: hepatitis C.

In the final story in our series “At the Crossroads,” we meet a team of outreach workers determined to find new infections before it’s too late.


Bringing disease prevention to the streets

Providence Diocese

We’re in the midst of flu season. It’s officially been declared widespread by the state health department.  And Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin is urging churches to take precautions to keep the flu from spreading.

A new law takes effect today aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of the seriously mentally ill. The state will now begin sending more information to a national criminal background check database.

Anyone who wants to buy a gun from a gun store must submit to a background check. Store owners run the buyer’s information through a few national databases, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Until recently, Rhode Island shared only criminal records with NICS.

A new documentary about the evolution of emergency medicine airs tonight (MONDAY) on Rhode Island public television. The documentary was produced by a Rhode Island-born ER doctor and inspired by Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency medicine chief.

Before the 1970s, there was no 911. No ambulance service like we know today. Emergency medicine, says Dr. Mark Brady, wasn’t even a specialty until 1979.

A rising tide lifts all boats. That’s the finding of a Brown University researcher who investigated whether hospital quality improvements brought better care for minority patients as well as white.

Brown University professor Amal Trivedi wanted to know if improved standards at hospitals have helped all patients equally.  Medicare asked hospitals to start reporting certain quality measures in 2005. Trivedi said that at that time, there were significant disparities between the care whites and minorities got at hospitals around the country.


The grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri reviewed thousands of pages of evidence surrounding the shooting death of an unarmed black man. Among those pages: lots of inscrutable medical terminology from an autopsy and other medical reports. That’s why a group of Brown University medical students decided to translate that jargon into everyday language. Third year medical student Rian Yalamanchili led the “Ferguson Decoded” project.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A six-month-old program to help overdose survivors get connected with addiction treatment is getting some results, according to the state’s behavioral health agency. The program puts recovery coaches on call in emergency rooms throughout Rhode Island to reach out to survivors before they’re sent home.

The recovery coaches are trained peer counselors, in recovery from addiction themselves. They try to link overdose survivors with addiction treatment, and educate them about preventing another overdose.