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Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

On this Thanksgiving day, most Rhode Islanders are enjoying a big meal and time with family and friends. But there’s no time off for the state’s emergency departments – ready around the clock to treat whatever comes their way. 

Rhode Island Hospital emergency department director Dr. David Portelli says that’s usually kitchen accidents, and the results of overindulgence. “When we do look at the numbers, we do see there’s more lacerations – about three times as many by percent – and some more episodes of congestive heart failure.”

Another study seems to suggest that, contrary to previous assumptions, it does.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have just published the results of a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that looked at all emergency department visits at 69 hospitals between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2009. In 2006, Massachusetts expanded access to health insurance to nearly everyone in the state.

The Waiting Room project

Last night I watched the beautifully crafted documentary "The Waiting Room." It captures 24 hours in a single hospital's waiting room, following the stories of a diverse cast of patients and staff. There's no narration except how the characters tell their own stories and how those weave into the larger story this documentary tells.

A proposal is taking shape to divert frequent users of emergency rooms into a substance abuse treatment facility, instead. Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare has pitched a pilot program for Providence that would transport drunk or high people to a sobering center. Staff there could then connect them with more treatment or housing and job services. Dale Klatzker heads The Providence Center, one of the state’s largest community mental health organizations. He says marshaling the resources to address this social problem will be difficult.