Department of Health

There were fewer children in Rhode Island last year with elevated lead levels in their blood. Improvements to housing played a big role in the decline.

Most of the drop in lead levels took place in Providence, Woonsocket, Warwick and Tiverton. In Providence, the city has made sure children couldn’t live in rental homes unless they were certified as lead-free.  Also, the city’s water authority monitored lead levels in drinking water.

Imagine riding in an ambulance without heat. That’s apparently been the reality for some people who use the New England Ambulance Company.  The state Health Department is putting a stop to the practice.

The Rhode Island Health Department has ordered the New England Ambulance Company to stop running vehicles without heat.  The department says it will issue fines of 100 dollars a day if the Johnston firm continues to do so.

DEM Fears Spread of Rabies Following Bite By Calf

Jul 26, 2013
John Brown / flickr

A young calf has died of mysterious causes next to a popular Rhode Island ice cream stand.  Anyone who may have touched the animal is being urged to contact health officials.  

Earlier this month in a small pasture next to Gray’s ice cream shop in Tiverton, a Massachusetts resident was bitten by a three-month old steer, named Oreo.

The calf was quarantined; for fear that it might have rabies.

Just ten days later the animal died.

The Department of Environmental Management was unable to test for rabies, but rabies is a possible cause of death.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island regulators have deemed Prime Healthcare’s application to buy Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center complete.

Now the Attorney General and Department of Health can begin their official review of California-based Prime Healthcare’s bid to buy the troubled community hospital. That review begins July 1st and ends October 28th under Rhode Island’s Hospital Conversion Act.

John Bender / RIPR

In commemoration of National Nurses Week a celebration was held today at the State House in honor of Block Island nurse, Mary Donnelly.

Donnelly retired from her position as a state nurse on the island after more than 55 years of work.  She recalled the beginning of her career, when there was no doctor on the island.

“Best time of my life was when there was no doctor.  Do you know?  Because you had to use your head, use whatever you could to help a person.  And that was innovation I’ll tell you, to work that way.”

In the past year and a half, according to Rhode Island Department of Health records, seven physicians have been disciplined--some even forced to stop practicing medicine--for improperly prescribing narcotics.

The Rhode Island Dental Association has filed suit in Superior Court against the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Board of Examiners in Dentistry. The suit alleges the state is abusing its power to regulate the dental profession.

The dentists’ group claims that state investigators illegally raided some dentists’ offices, interrupting one surgery in progress. The complaint also alleges that the state’s Board of Examiners in Dentistry failed to give dentists a clear set of regulations for handling anesthesia, controlling infection, and other practices.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island regulators have given their final approval for the sale of Westerly Hospital to the New London-based Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

The head of Rhode Island’s Department of Health and the state's Attorney General have signed off on the deal to sell Westerly to L&M. Now, the deal is expected to close June first. Westerly Hospital has been in receivership since 2011 and under the leadership of a special master. L&M spokesman Michael O’Farrell says the special master will stay on through the closing date.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Attorney General and Department of Health officials say they’re suspending their review of Prime Healthcare’s application to buy the Woonsocket-based Landmark Medical Center.

URI Grant Winner Hopes to Spread Vaccine Awareness

Mar 25, 2013
Steven Depolo / flickr

A professor of pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island has just received a grant from the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer; the grant will be used to boost the rate of pneumonia vaccines in the state.

According Dr. Kerry LaPlante there has been a rise in cases of invasive pneumonia in RI, reaching 11.9 percent of the population, about 3 points higher than the national average.

LaPlante and her team plan to use the $700,00 grant to increase awareness and availability of the vaccine to those most at risk.

Warning for homes with well water

Feb 19, 2013

The Rhode Island Department of Health is reminding residents with private wells to take precautions. The melting snow could make the well water dangerous to drink.

UPDATE: As of today, October 5, 2012, the Rhode Island Department of Health has issued a ruling that it will mandate flu vaccines for all health care workers and volunteers. You can get a medical exemption with a note from your doctor, or fill out a form saying you refuse to get the shot but understand you’ll have to wear a surgical mask when interacting with patients during flu season. Link to the state regulation (it’s a .pdf).