The Pulse

The Pulse is written by Kristin Gourlay, an award winning health care reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Full archive of The Pulse can be found here.

Komlan Soe

It’s been a year since the height of an Ebola outbreak that ravaged West Africa and kept communities in the United States on high alert.  In Rhode Island, the crisis hit home with a large Liberian and West-African born community.

A group called Ebola Be Gone emerged as a driving force for raising awareness and providing supplies for those affected. One of its leaders, Komlan Soe, joined us in the studio to reflect on how that experience brought his community together and changed his life.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

I wish I could be in two places at once. This Friday, two health policy-related conferences take place simultaneously in Warwick. Here's a bit more about each, and why the issues they're covering matter to Rhode Islanders.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The union representing Rhode Island Hospital nurses and other medical professionals has rejected the latest contract proposal from the Lifespan hospital network, owner of the hospital.

``Our focus now is to continue fighting for a fair and reasonable agreement that represents the sacrifice and commitment that front-line caregivers bring to their job every day,’’ said Helene Macedo, president of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5808.

Aaron Read

Just 5 percent of Rhode Islanders now lack health insurance and the uninsured rate has dropped by more than half since 2012, according to data released today by HealthSourceRI, the state’s Obamacare health exchange.

The rate of Rhode Islanders who lack health insurance has declined from 11 percent in 2012 to 5 percent now.

Anya Rader Wallack, HealthSource director, said the numbers show the Affordable Care Act is working best in states, like Rhode Island, that have expanded Medicaid and run state-based health exchanges, rather than relying on the federal program.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

 Zaven Khachaturian, Ph.D, believes we can find a way to prevent Alzheimer's Disease by 2020 - if the nation commits to that goal and rallies the resources to achieve it. This widely recognized pioneer of Alzheimer's research compares achieving this goal to putting a man on the moon, or mapping the human genome. What once sounded impossible was accomplished in 10 years.  

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has reinstated a task force charged with preventing drug overdose deaths. And she’s asking them for a plan to within 90 days. 

Rhode Island College

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law had a profound effect on the way people with disabilities are treated in the workplace, at school, and in our communities. And recently, Rhode Island settled a complaint that it violated the law by segregating and underpaying developmentally disabled workers.

World Hepatitis Alliance

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 marks the 5th annual World Hepatitis Day, a global awareness-raising event launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance, in concert with the World Health Organization.

On Saturday, August 1st, Providence marks the occasion with "C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C."

The ADA Legacy Project

Sunday marks the anniversary of the signing of the historic act that helped reduce discrimination and remove barriers for people with disabilities.

In 25 years, much has changed: there are more workplace protections for people with disabilities, more ramps and elevators, even more visibility in the media and entertainment of people with disabilities. Of course, there's more to be done to make the world accessible and to give people of all abilities equal opportunities to thrive and participate.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

When Maria Montanaro took the reins of the state department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, she inherited an agency with massive responsibilities, and major challenges. Among them, mounting costs and allegations of abuse at Eleanor Slater Hospital – the state psychiatric and long-term care facility for people with serious illnesses.

Jim Gillen

I first met Jim Gillen, who died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer, a couple of years ago. I was reporting on skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction and overdose. And if you wanted to know about addiction and recovery in Rhode Island, you sought out Jim.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket has won federal funding to train more primary care doctors. The program is focused on caring for kids in poor communities. And the hope is that trainees will decide to stay on after their residencies. The grant will help residents see more children in the hospital's family medicine clinics, add mental health services, and teach residents more about the social determinants of health.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joins Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about the growing importance of primary care in the health care industry.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers introduced a bill requiring Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, in all middle and high schools. But the legislation never made it past a House committee.

Leaving that legislation on the table could have consequences.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Note: I've added a point about the Good Samaritan law, thanks to comments from readers. It's up for consideration now at the Statehouse.

A group of state and federal leaders gathered yesterday for a roundtable discussion on Rhode Island's seemingly intractable drug overdose crisis. Present for that discussion: Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), health dept. director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, behavioral health dept. director Maria Montanaro, Gov. Gina Raimondo, and head of the state police, Col. Steven O'Donnell. Reporters were invited to listen in, then ask a few questions.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee / Webcast

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says sharing electronic health records should be easier. But it isn’t. Most systems aren’t linked to one another and they don’t collect the same data. Whitehouse told a Senate committee today that Rhode Island’s system for sharing patient data, CurrentCare, and similar systems in other states, could help overcome some of those obstacles.