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 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 making music, cooking, and spending time with her husband, daughter, dogs, and cat.

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Health Care
1:29 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Rhode Island Health Insurer Reacts to DOMA Decision

It’s unclear how exactly Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on DOMA will affect health care coverage for same-sex spouses. But Rhode Island’s largest health insurer has already been extending such benefits.

As an employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been offering health coverage to its employees’ same-sex spouses since 2010, said Blue Cross compliance officer Martha Holt Castle.

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RI News
5:43 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Firefighters Battle Heat, Chemical Blaze in Central Falls

A spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital said that three first responders were treated there for heat exhaustion after battling a five-alarm fire at a chemical company in Central Falls. Dyana Koelsch said none of those first responders had been admitted to the hospital.

Temperatures crested 90 degrees today, adding to dangerous conditions for firefighters and rescue workers.

The fire started today in an old mill building, most likely during a mixing process that involved toxic chemicals.

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Health Care
5:23 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Westerly Hospital Settles with DOJ Over Doctor-Hospital Deal

Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Westerly Hospital has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over agreements it made with doctors not to compete for business. Westerly officials haven’t admitted wrongdoing, but the hospital’s arrangement with doctors may have contributed to higher patient costs.

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The Pulse
12:20 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

No Health Insurance? Get Ready to Enroll.

UPDATE: HHS unveiled a newly redesigned healthcare.gov today, which lets users learn more about enrolling in health insurance plans through online insurance marketplaces beginning October 1st. I tried it out. The web site leads you through a series of questions and presents you with your likely options for coverage and whatever financial assistance might be available to help you pay for that coverage. It also creates a customized "checklist" to help you prepare for enrollment, which includes a list of documents you'll need to gather.

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Health Care
1:51 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

RI Hospital Cuts Infection Rate; More Hospitals to Track C. Diff.

Rhode Island Hospital
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island Hospital officials say they have reduced the incidence of a potentially deadly infection patients can acquire in the hospital by 70 percent. Hospitals around the country are battling the infection called C. difficile , but tracking their progress has been difficult.

C. difficile causes infectious diarrhea, and you’re most likely to pick it up in a contaminated hospital or long-term care facility. 14,000 people die from it every year nationwide. What’s more, it resists most antibiotics, so it’s hard to treat.

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Health Care
5:00 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse, One Log In At a Time

Prescription bottles
Credit US Marine Corps / via Wikimedia Commons

For Rhode Islanders between 15 and 44 years old, the leading cause of death is accidental drug overdose, usually involving prescription painkillers.  State health leaders are calling it an epidemic. There’s growing evidence that tracking the number of pills doctors prescribe to potential abusers might ease the problem. But Rhode Island’s fledgling prescription drug monitoring program is just getting started.

The dark side of opiates

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The Pulse
2:36 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Prescribing Painkillers: What the Health Dept. Recommends

Recently, I reported on Rhode Island's fledgling prescription drug monitoring program (listen to that story here). It's a program that's supposed to spot troubling trends in prescription drug misuse. And as you might know, there's plenty of trouble to spot in Rhode Island, where prescription drug overdose death rates have soared along with rates of addiction to narcotic painkillers.

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Health Care
4:20 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Hittner Nominated as Next Health Insurance Commissioner

Kathleen Hittner, MD
Credit Rhode Island Foundation

Governor Lincoln Chafee has nominated Dr. Kathleen Hittner as Rhode Island’s next Health Insurance Commissioner. Hittner must be confirmed by the senate.

Hittner has been tapped to replace outgoing commissioner Chris Koller, who is stepping down to become president of the Milbank Memorial Fund in New York City.

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The Pulse
4:22 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Is Obesity a Disease?

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

UPDATE: The AMA voted yes on calling obesity a disease, despite a committee's recommendations against it.

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Health Care
3:24 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Officials Seek Input on Alzheimer's State Plan

State officials want to make it easier for people living with Alzheimer’s and those who care for them. Nearly 25,000 Rhode Islanders suffer from the disease, and an estimated 60,000 are their unpaid caregivers.

A work group spearheaded by Lt Gov Elizabeth Roberts and Division of Elderly Affairs chief Catherine Taylor has issued a set of recommendations in the state’s first comprehensive Alzheimer’s plan.

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