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
12:00 am
Wed August 8, 2012

No Deal with Thundermist for Block Island Health Service

The Block Island Times reports that the island’s health center won’t be partnering with Thundermist, a partnership the health center hoped would help defray costs and boost resources. The news came, according to the BI Times, as a surprise to attendees of a recent town council meeting. BIHS is also reeling after losing its director suddenly – for reasons that aren’t yet public.

The Pulse
12:00 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Good News for RI Health Businesses?

Perhaps.

Westerly Hospital is closer to being acquired by the CT-based nonprofit Lawrence & Memorial. That might provide some relief to the financially troubled hospital, which has been in receivership since late last year (see lots of great posts about that by my illustrious predecessor).

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Mon August 6, 2012

Focus on Safety-Net Hospitals

There’s an interesting new issue out of the journal Health Affairs about the many challenges facing the nation’s “safety net” health care providers (such as big urban hospitals and others providing a  lot of so-called “uncompensated care.”). But, according to the issue’s editor, there are other stories, too:

“Meanwhile, other articles in this issue delineate the great strides that many safety-net providers have made in system integration and care coordination—in essence, preparing themselves to be leaders in delivering care and managing population health.”

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Breastfeeding Report Card: RI Behind the Curve

No pun intended. Well, OK, maybe a little bit intended.

But seriously, folks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published its 2012 breastfeeding report card for all 50 states. And Rhode Island seems to be making progress in some areas. But not all. We’re lagging behind on a few key measures. For example, the report shows that about 34% of Rhode Island babies were fed breast milk, exclusively, through the age of three months. The national average is 36%.

First, here’s how the CDC describes what the report aims to tell us and how states play a role:

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Tough to get a doctor’s appointment?

Being new in town, I needed to find a primary care doctor for my daughter, who is almost 11 years old. I used my health insurance’s web site to find a list of providers. Every one I called said they weren’t taking new patients. I called pediatric specialists, family doctors. I called offices close to home, an hour away, and everywhere in between…to no avail.

Finally I found a walk-in clinic about an hour away that could at least update her immunizations and sign some paperwork for the new school she’ll attend at the end of August.

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Fri July 27, 2012

Olympic Medicine and Rhode Island Olympians

You might think a health care reporter wouldn’t have much interest in covering the Olympics. Think again! (Personally, I can’t wait for the opening ceremonies tonight.)


Thomas Hicks, during 1904 Olympic marathon

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Hospital Prices and Payments, In Brief

This afternoon, I joined RIPR’s All Things Considered host Dave Fallon to talk about what’s happening with hospital prices and something called “payment reform.” You can listen to a recording of that discussion here.

For those of you who want to dig in to the issue, here are links to a few reports, studies, and articles I found helpful. Please feel free to let me know about others.

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Wed July 25, 2012

What’s Going On With Hospital Prices, Live on Thursday

The ongoing public dispute between Landmark Hospital in Woonsocket and private insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island continues to heat up. Today, the hospital and its allies released the results of a survey it commissioned to gauge public opinion on its battle to win higher reimbursement rates from Blue Cross. Not surprisingly, it saw, in the results, a citizenry ready to blame Blue Cross if the hospital goes under. Blue Cross shot back in a statement to me via email today that it has “negotiated in good faith” with Landmark and that, as far as the survey is concerned:

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Tue July 24, 2012

CBO Estimates Health Reform Will Cost Less Than Thought

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have just released new estimates of what President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will cost, and the numbers are less than previously thought. From the CBO Director’s Blog:

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The Pulse
12:00 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Pertussis Cases Up; Vaccine Losing Steam?

We’re seeing a few more cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Rhode Island than usual right now (the total is eight as of Friday, July 20). But in the state of Washington, it’s reached official epidemic status. The Centers for Disease Control reports today in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report that, although the pertussis incidence rate is higher in Washington, there’s a national trend emerging in terms of what age groups are getting sick:

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