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.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s  two largest health care systems have resumed talks about a possible affiliation. It’s not the first time Lifespan and Care New England have hinted at a future relationship, but most of the details remain under wraps.  For this week’s The Pulse, I explore the ups and downs of a potential partnership for the hospitals and for patients with news director Elisabeth Harrison. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Community Health Centers have gotten a couple of funding boosts this week. The funds are intended to expand access to primary care and dental care.

Thundermist Health Center in Woonsocket will receive $1 million dollar federal grant to add exam rooms and hire more primary care doctors. 

Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems, have quietly revived merger talks, Lifespan ceo and president, Dr. Timothy Babineau, said today.

In a brief interview, Babineau said the talks ``are in very early stages’’ and are in response to Care New England’s request for partnership proposals that was released last spring.

RIPR FILE

Dental insurer Delta Dental of Rhode Island has announced more than $1 million in a series of gifts to support clinics and health professionals across Rhode Island to provide oral health care to those in need.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / video screen shot

On Tuesday night, I joined a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-sponsored panel of cancer doctors, researchers, and a pharmaceutical industry representative in Pittsburgh to talk specialty drug costs. I shared some of what I've learned reporting on the high cost - and huge benefits - of new hepatitis C treatments. But I learned much more about what drives the high cost of pharmaceuticals, and what health care providers, insurers, government, patients, and drug companies can do to rein in those costs.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

This week, new details have emerged about financial mismanagement at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. A second audit has revealed the former director of the child welfare agency may have violated state ethics rules by getting paid to be a consultant for a vendor DCYF was overseeing.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

It's not just financial irregularities plaguing the child welfare agency. There are lists of reforms officials must tackle - including 20 specific recommendations from a group of lawmakers.

Background
When the state’s child welfare agency told the General Assembly it would need another cash infusion to make it through the end of the year, a group of lawmakers decided to dig in to the root cause of the agency’s financial problems.

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."

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