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.

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The Pulse
9:20 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Back After This Break

An oblique fracture, more specifically. That's what doctors saw on the X-ray of my son's femur.

My son is a walking, talking, energetic boy of 18 months. But a strange string of events at day care last Friday - a twist, the catching of a foot on a table leg, a toppling over -  has immobilized him. Doctors put him under, and set him in a spica cast. It's a nearly full-body mummification of both legs, down to the toes, and up the torso, to just under his little arm pits. His legs are splayed open, so he looks a bit like a cowboy who's just gotten off a very fat horse.

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The Pulse
2:00 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

At The Crossroads: The Road Ahead For Hep C

Host Kristin Gourlay with panelists Thomas Stopka and Michael Poshkus talk infection rates behind bars.
Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

Our months-long series about hepatitis C, "At the Crossroads: The Rise of Hepatitis C and the Fight to Stop It," has officially come to an end. We had a great public forum ("Hepatitis C: Cost, Cure, and Challenge") last night at Brown University, the audio from which is posted here, and some key takeaways from which I'll share, below.

    

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The Pulse
3:39 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

For Some Child Refugees, A Journey From Food Scarcity To Obesity

Researchers with the Hasbro Children’s Hospital Pediatric Refugee Health Program in Providence have found that the longer child refugees stay in the U.S., the greater the chance they'll become overweight or obese.

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The Pulse
1:20 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Map: Where To Find Free Or Low-Cost Hepatitis C Testing

It's sinister, this virus: hepatitis C can live in the body for decades before causing any noticeable symptoms. By then, the symptoms could be serious: at the worst, cirrhosis or liver cancer. Most people who have hepatitis C don't know it. In this case, what you don't know can hurt you, or even kill you.

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The Pulse
12:08 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Parsing HealthSource RI Enrollment Data

HealthSource RI is out with its most recent enrollment data.

It looks like the state's online health insurance marketplace kept two-thirds (71%) of enrollees from last year and gained a quarter more (about 5,000 new enrollees). So with total enrollments for 2015 at 22,910, HealthSource RI didn't lose a bunch of customers but didn't gain a whole lot either.

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The Pulse
4:35 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

A Healthy Holiday Wish List

Here's my holiday wish list for all Rhode Islanders:

May you get the health care you need and deserve, at a price you can afford.

May you find the path to a healthier life well-lit and accessible, and begin to or keep trudging it.

And may you (miraculously) not gain any weight while indulging in treats this season.

Happy holidays, and see you next year!

The Pulse
2:20 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

At The Crossroads: Despite More Cases, Funding For Hep C Pales Next To HIV

Graph from the Rhode Island Public Health Association brief "Hepatitis C: Threat and Opportunity."
Credit Rhode Island Public Health Association / Rhode Island Department of Health

A couple of years ago, I read an issue brief written by Brad Brockmann with the Rhode Island Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights. The brief, called "Hepatitis C: Threat and Opportunity," depicted the number of HIV cases against the number of Hepatitis C cases in Rhode Island in 2007 - 2008 in a bar graph. The bar for the number of hep C cases was much, much higher.

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The Pulse
2:26 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Ever Sign An Agreement With Your Doctor?

At a public hearing yesterday at the Dept. of Health, doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses voiced their opposition to the department's proposed regulations governing the prescribing of opioids. The new rules would require prescribers to sign a fairly lengthy agreement with patients, alerting them to the risks of taking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, and agreeing to certain kinds of monitoring. Many health care providers feel these agreements aren't necessary and that, in fact, they're patronizing.

What do you think?

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The Pulse
10:38 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Agency Sues Over Hep C Drug Price; Researchers Compare Effectiveness

No surprise here: the Philadelphia Transportation Authority is suing Gilead, maker of the expensive new hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, over the cost of those drugs. A course of Sovaldi, not including drugs you might have to take in combination with it, as some patients do, costs $84,000. Harvoni, which won FDA approval more recently, costs $94,000.

According to the Philadelphia Star Tribune:

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The Pulse
6:00 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Back From Liberia, RI Doc Describes Heartbreak And Hope

Community training team in Liberia, with Dr. Timothy Flanigan in background.
Credit Timothy Flanigan

A Rhode Island doctor has just returned from Liberia where for three months he trained health care workers fighting the deadly Ebola virus. Dr. Timothy Flanigan is one of several Rhode Islanders who have traveled to the West African nation to fight the disease that the World Health Organization estimates to have killed some 6500 people.

Shortly after arriving back home, he sat down with me to talk about what he saw and where he sees hope.

You can listen to our conversation here.

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