Michael Fine

Ryan T. Conaty

Last night I attended one of what could be the first of 39 more public forums, put on by the state's health department, around Rhode Island. And it wasn't what I thought it would be.

US Marine Corps / via Wikimedia Commons

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.

The dark side of opiates

AS220

AS220, the downtown arts organization, and the Roots Cafe are hosting three public panel discussions about health care in Rhode Island. And one of them features someone you might know from such illustrious places as... this blog! My predecessor here at RIPR, the delightful Megan Hall, is one of the panelists! Events take place at 5:30 pm on April 24, May 1, and May 8 at AS220 Cafe, 115 Empire Street, in Providence.

Details on the first two events:

US Navy

Rhode Island could do with the equivalent of one fewer hospital. That’s the conclusion of a draft report meant to guide the state’s health care planning.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates this year’s flu vaccine was effective about fifty percent of the time. But the vaccine was much less protective for older adults.

The CDC found that vaccinations against influenza types A and B were about 56 percent effective overall. But in people aged 65 and older, the vaccines only worked 27 percent of the time. But Rhode Island Department of Health director Doctor Michael Fine says that’s no reason NOT to get vaccinated.

Rhode Island Department of Health

While flu season is technically still here, Rhode Island’s Department of Health has lifted its declaration of “widespread” flu. More on the state’s response to a tough season.

Department of health head Dr. Michael Fine says he’s pleased that more health care workers and members of the general population got vaccinated against the flu this year than last. But he says the state can do better than 50%.

“If we had vaccinated instead of 500,000 Rhode Islanders, 900,000 or more, we would have expected to see many fewer hospitalizations and many fewer illnesses.”

Rhode Island Department of Health

Rhode Island Department of Health director Dr. Michael Fine says Rhode Island must address prescription drug abuse. Fine’s comments come as part of a list of priorities he’s shared with lawmakers.

Topping the list: ending deaths from prescription drug overdoses and colorectal cancer, as well as curbing the transmission of new HIV cases in Rhode Island. Fine also wants to reduce the number of premature births and C-section deliveries.

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