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
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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The Pulse
3:29 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

FY '15 Budget Aims To Rein In Medicaid Spending, Add Integrated Health Services

I'm combing through a Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office summary of Governor Lincoln Chafee's FY 2015 budget proposal - a handy document that summarizes the item in question and analyzes its potential impacts. In health care, there's lots to digest.

But here are a few items that have caught my eye so far. And keep in mind, these are all still up for debate.

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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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The Pulse
2:43 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Marijuana Debate Heats Up; Lifespan, Kennedy At Odds

A bill is making its way through Rhode Island's General Assembly that would legalize marijuana and regulate and tax it like alcohol. Possessing small amounts has already been decriminalized here. And interest has been growing in legalization for a while.

Proponents say that legalizing the drug would keep harmless people out of jail. Opponents say marijuana is just as dangerous as any other drug and should remain illegal.

The arguments are heating up.

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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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The Pulse
11:22 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Fluoridated Water Reaches Just 84% Of RI Homes

Credit Pew Charitable Trusts

Check out this new graphic from the Pew Charitable Trusts on the percentage of homes served by fluoridated public water water systems. Public health agencies have long recommended fluoridated water, especially for kids' dental health. In Rhode Island, just 83.9% of homes are served by such treated water.

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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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The Pulse
12:51 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Who Needs A Mammogram?

That's a question only you and your doctor can answer. But news that a major, long-term study found no link between early screening (i.e., mammograms) and reduced deaths from breast cancer may have muddied the waters. So here are a few thoughts and resources to help shed some light.

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The Pulse
1:07 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Thousands of RI Latinos May Qualify for Obamacare

A new analysis out from the US Health and Human Services agency estimates that about 17,000 uninsured Latinos in Rhode Island may qualify for assistance buying a health insurance plan on HealthSource RI or for Medicaid. That's out of RI's total Latino population of about 112,000. Both seem like sizeable numbers for a state of only about a million.

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