Lots of news organizations, including this one, are ticking off the year's top 10 stories. I'd like to run through some of Rhode Island's bottom health stories, meaning the ones least likely to have appeared on radar screens - but which should have. And don't worry: there's some good news in here too!
Rhode Island Hospital and the entire Lifespan network have announced new guidelines for prescribing painkillers in their emergency rooms. ER doctors are trying to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction.
It's been a year since the tragedy in Newtown, CT took so many lives, including that of the gunman, who some believe was battling serious mental illness but may not have gotten all the treatment he needed.
We’ve heard lots, since then, about the need for more mental health resources, and lots about the rollercoaster ride of federal and state funding for those resources. Here’s a round up of some of the year’s most significant developments for mental health patients and advocates:
State lawmakers are looking at ways to strengthen Rhode Island’s prescription drug monitoring program. They say there are too many gaps in the current system that allow people to abuse prescription drugs.
The Providence Center has received a $1.7 million dollar federal grant to try to help people with mental health problems avoid the emergency room. The program could help hospitals, and the state, slash some of the most expensive medical bills.
That's the question vexing public health directors - and anyone with a loved one who's experienced one - everywhere. That includes Rhode Island, where health department chief Dr. Michael Fine named combating prescription drug overdose deaths one of his top priorities.
The first recovery center in the state’s Adult Correctional Institute is now open. The Anchor Recovery Drydock is in the women’s facility and will provide female inmates with treatment inside the ACI and resources for when they get out. The Providence Center’s CEO Dale Klatzker said having a recovery support network is key to staying sober and out of prison.
“All the treatment in the world isn’t going to make a difference if you aren’t also able to sustain your sobriety,” said Klatzker. “If you’re in an environment where all the pressures are on you or to use and abuse drugs.”
The 2013 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly has officially,finally, wrapped up. With that, we turn to Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay for a recap of some of the most significant health legislation to pass and not pass and how it might affect you.
DAVE: So much happening in health care now in Rhode Island and nationally – from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to rising health care prices. Did legislators tackle any of these big issues this session?
For Rhode Islanders between 15 and 44 years old, the leading cause of death is accidental drug overdose, usually involving prescription painkillers. State health leaders are calling it an epidemic. There’s growing evidence that tracking the number of pills doctors prescribe to potential abusers might ease the problem. But Rhode Island’s fledgling prescription drug monitoring program is just getting started.