Kristin Gourlay

Health Care Reporter

Kristin Espeland Gourlay joined Rhode Island Public Radio in July 2012. Before arriving in Providence, Gourlay covered the environment for WFPL Louisville, KY’s NPR station. And prior to that, she was a reporter and host for Wyoming Public Radio.

Gourlay earned her MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and her BA in anthropology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.

She’s won multiple national, regional, and local awards for her reporting, and her work has aired on NPR and stations throughout the country. She’s particularly proud of the variety of protective clothing she’s had to wear on assignment, including helmets, waders, safety goggles, and snowshoes.

Originally from Chicago, IL, Gourlay loves music, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Ways to Connect

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Brown University’s medical school has teamed up with Rhode Island Hospital to teach future doctors how to address opioid addiction and overdose. They’re using a nearly $1million federal dollar grant to create a new curriculum.

And the need could not be more urgent. Just last week the Centers for Disease Control reported that half a million Americans have died from accidental drug overdoses in the past 15 years, mostly involving prescription painkillers and increasingly heroin.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island Public Radio will be taking a look at some of the top stories from 2015 in the coming days – from developments in the 38 Studios case to the state’s first female governor. But for this week’s The Pulse, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joins news director Elisabeth Harrison to talk about some of the health care stories that deserve a second look.

Pawtucket’s police department is trying a new tack to recruit officers. The city hopes a couple of new recruiting videos in English and Spanish will attract a more diverse pool of applicants to the police department.

It’s a video that aims to pluck a few heartstrings. The clincher at the end includes members of the force sharing what they love about the job. The goal, said Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, is to appeal to people who might not have thought about joining the force before.

RIPR FILE

Time is running out to enroll in health insurance if you don’t already have it. And, the penalty for not having insurance goes up substantially in 2016.

If you can afford health insurance but don’t buy it, the federal government will charge every adult in your household $695 dollars or two-point-five percent of your annual household income, whichever is higher. 

And if you can’t afford health insurance or don’t get it through work, you’re not alone. Most of the enrollees on HealthSource RI to-date have qualified for some kind of financial assistance.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department officials have a plan to compel more doctors to use a prescription drug monitoring program. That’s one piece of the effort to fight opioid addiction and overdose.

A prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is an online database. It’s supposed to help anyone who prescribes controlled substances like painkillers or anxiety medications look up a patient’s history with those drugs. The idea is to spot signs of trouble, like dangerous drug combinations, or addiction. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island Hospital wants to deliver more babies. The hospital is seeking permission to open a new inpatient obstetrics unit.

The new unit would cost $20 million dollars, according a letter of intent filed with the state health department. In that letter, Rhode Island Hospital says it would be ready to take patients in a couple of years. 

If your health insurance deductibles and co-pays have been rising, you’re not alone. A recent report about the cost of health care in the Ocean State found that consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for care have been rising faster than the actual price of health care services. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health insurers in Rhode Island can no longer limit or deny coverage based on gender identity. That's due to new rules from the state health insurance commissioner.

Kristin Gourlay

Gov. Gina Raimondo asked a group of health care experts and stakeholders to come up with a plan to keep health care spending in check. She asked them to consider placing a cap on all health care spending, and other measures to slow spending growth. This week the group announced four recommendations for her consideration.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Health Insurance Commissioner has received some patient complaints that insurers failed to cover the mental illness or addiction treatment  they needed. 

RIPR FILE

As the debate about receiving more Syrian refugees continues, a Hasbro Children’s Hospital doctor worries about refugees who have already made the journey to Rhode Island.

Dr. Carol Lewis runs the health clinic for refugee children at Hasbro. She says she worries about how the escalating back-and-forth about accepting refugees will affect her teenage patients in particular.

“They’re hearing this stuff on the news. And how must that make them feel? When you hear these terribly un-welcoming comments about refugees," said Lewis.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

On this Thanksgiving day, most Rhode Islanders are enjoying a big meal and time with family and friends. But there’s no time off for the state’s emergency departments – ready around the clock to treat whatever comes their way. 

Rhode Island Hospital emergency department director Dr. David Portelli says that’s usually kitchen accidents, and the results of overindulgence. “When we do look at the numbers, we do see there’s more lacerations – about three times as many by percent – and some more episodes of congestive heart failure.”

Ian Donnis / RIPR

For her first Thanksgiving as governor, Gina Raimondo says she’ll be with family at her mother’s home in Greenville. Raimondo says the menu for 20 will include some typical dishes.

“And we’ll have all the regular fixings plus...a lot of macaroni," said Raimondo. "Of course we’ll have the turkey and the stuffing, but in our house it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if you don’t also have the pasta.”

Raimondo says she wishes all Rhode Islanders a Happy Thanksgiving. 

T.F. Green Airport Security Gate
Catherine Welch / RIPR

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. T.F. Green Airport officials expect a rush through Sunday. But they’ve planned ahead to help travelers unwind.

Health care spending in Rhode Island has been relatively flat, even decreasing in some areas. That’s according to a new study about the total cost of health care in the state. 

In fact, Rhode Island has some of the lowest health care costs in New England. But out-of-pocket spending for health care in Rhode Island – on things like co-pays and deductibles - has been increasing at a faster rate than what insurers pay.

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