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
11:45 am
Tue April 22, 2014

CurrentCare Must Spell Out How To Change, Remove Records

A statewide electronic health records program must be more transparent and offer patients more privacy protections. That’s the result of a suit brought by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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The Pulse
4:37 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Hep C: Who Gets New, Better Drugs, And Who Waits?

A few health care organizations are trying to grapple right now with the great news that, on the one hand, new hepatitis C treatments are more effective and more tolerable for patients; on the other, they're so expensive they can't figure out how to treat everyone who's infected. How expensive? $1000 a pill, one pill a day. One pill a day that doesn't make you sick is music to the ears of people who've been on the older treatments.

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Health Care
3:04 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Free Dental Clinic Aims To Treat 1,000

Participants at a free Rhode Island dental clinic last year.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

A cadre of dental health care providers will attempt to provide free dental care for 1,000 uninsured patients next month. Organizers have announced the dates for the third annual free dental clinic.

The Rhode Island Oral Health Foundation says volunteers will to try to help hundreds of patients over May 31st and June 1st on the campus of the Community College of Rhode Island. It's called the Rhode Island Mission of Mercy free dental clinic. The idea is to help poor patients with urgent dental problems.

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The Pulse
1:55 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

The Warm Hand-Off

Doctors' offices and emergency departments sometimes struggle with how to help someone in active addiction. Where do you send them once they're stabilized? How do you talk to them about their addiction? Often they don't have the resources to arrange the next steps for these patients, and therein lies a missing link for addicts who seek medical help for one reason or another but don't get into treatment for the addiction that probably played a role in their seeking medical help in the first place.

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Health Care
1:32 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

RI Launches New Programs To Treat Addicts, Prevent Overdoses

From left to right: State police chief Col. Stephen O'Donnell, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Health department director Dr. Michael Fine, Dept. of Behavior Health head Craig Stenning, and the Providence Center's Jim Gillen at a press conference Thursday at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket, discuss a reporter's question.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State leaders have announced some new steps in the fight against prescription painkiller and heroin addiction. The news accompanies the release of the latest grim numbers of drug overdose deaths.  

Rhode Island health department head Michael Fine told a standing-room-only crowd at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket that 85 people have died since January from suspected drug overdoses, mostly heroin. Hundreds more have overdosed but survived, he said, thanks to an antidote called Narcan, which first responders carry.

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Health Care
4:14 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Flu Declared Widespread A Second Time This Season

Syringes filled with flu vaccine
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For the second time this season, the Rhode Island health department has declared flu widespread. That means that any unvaccinated health care workers must wear surgical masks around patients until the declaration of “widespread” is lifted. Flu was declared widespread in Rhode Island for most of January and February this year. But the health department says this time is more intense than the first.

The dominant strain now affects the elderly, in particular. 13 people have died from flu in Rhode Island this season, all of them in their 80s and 90s.

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Health Care
3:51 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

House Committee Considers Bills to Legalize Pot, Expand Medical Marijuana

State lawmakers are scheduled to consider several marijuana-related bills this evening. At issue is expanding access to medical marijuana and, once again, legalizing the drug for anyone over the age of 21.

Seven marijuana-related bills are before the House Committee on Judiciary. One would legalize marijuana for all adults, regulating it like alcohol and taxing sales. That’s been proposed before and failed, but other states have since legalized it.

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The Pulse
3:02 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Medical Education Adapts To New Needs In RI

RIC nursing students participate in a simulation.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island College announced a new graduate certificate program in nursing care management today. In a statement, the college explained what nurse care managers do and why they decided to offer this program now:

"Nurse care managers provide patient assessment, treatment planning, health care facilitation and advocacy within all health care settings, including private practices and hospitals.

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Health Care
9:17 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Rhode Island Set To Begin Health Insurance Claims Database

Rhode Island is beginning an all-payer claims database to better known how much residents are spending on healthcare, and on what.
Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

You may have gotten a letter in the mail recently from your health insurance company asking whether you wanted to opt out of something called an “all payer claims database.”

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The Pulse
4:09 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

To Find Health Care Cost Savings, Follow The Money. Or Rather, The Data.

It's pretty basic: in order to save a little money, most people have to stick to a budget. But before you can sketch out that spending plan, you need to know where your money's been going and how much you've been spending on everything. Then you can look for places to trim and skimp.

So too goes the theory with health care spending. Or at least, that's the idea behind several new efforts:

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