rhode island department of health

Aaron Read / RIPR

There’s new federal funding to help Rhode Island fight the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. The money is going toward better data collection, first responders and an overdose hotline.

Christopher Irwin / Creative Commons License via Flickr

For a year and a half, tens of thousands of people in Flint, Michigan were exposed to drinking water with dangerously high levels of lead. In the wake of the crisis, water sampling methods have come under scrutiny. Rhode Island Public Radio environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza sat down with the chief of the center for drinking water quality at the Rhode Island Department of Health to learn how Rhode Island has changed its testing protocols post-Flint.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island.

  • Eliminate Hep C in RI? Brown researchers project more treatment could reduce hepatitis C by 90% in Rhode Island by 2030.

Rhode Island Keeps Tabs on Zika

Aug 5, 2016
Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

The Rhode Island Health Department has confirmed 18 cases of Zika virus -- a disease linked to a severe birth defect called microcephaly. 

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report all of the Rhode Island cases were contracted outside of state lines. 

The mosquito known to carry Zika in Florida is not established in Rhode Island. However, the state may be at risk for another mosquito which also carries the virus. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Cumberland, Rhode Island popped up on a list of cities and towns that have unsafe levels of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. It’s used to make Teflon. It turns out those levels have dropped significantly in the town over the past year.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

New research from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Rhode Island is leading the nation when it comes to reducing painkiller prescriptions. State officials attribute the drop to education for doctors and patients about the risk of opioid overdose.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

The Rhode Island Department of Health says the first case of Zika virus has been confirmed in the state. The state health agency says the man is in his 60s and recently traveled to Haiti. That’s one of the countries where Zika transmission is active.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

  The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to monitor pregnant women who have traveled to areas of the world affected by the Zika virus.

The agency reports monitoring about eight to 10 women a week on average. That means health care providers keep tabs on whether any symptoms develop, and blood samples are typically collected and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Department of Health has officially ended its symptom monitoring program for people returning from West Africa. The decision comes as the World Health Organization declares Guinea Ebola-free.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department officials have a plan to compel more doctors to use a prescription drug monitoring program. That’s one piece of the effort to fight opioid addiction and overdose.

A prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is an online database. It’s supposed to help anyone who prescribes controlled substances like painkillers or anxiety medications look up a patient’s history with those drugs. The idea is to spot signs of trouble, like dangerous drug combinations, or addiction. 

RI Dept. of Health

Rhode Island may not have enough primary care doctors to meet the need. That’s one conclusion from a major survey of the state’s health care inventory. Another conclusion: mental health resources are lacking.   

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott has laid out a plan to improve Rhode Islanders’ health over the coming year.  She described the plan to lawmakers Tuesday evening, a common gesture from the state's top health official. One of her overarching priorities is to reduce disparities across the state.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

An advocacy group opposing the new HPV vaccine requirement for seventh graders is raising money to bring the fight to the state capital. Their efforts may hit a roadblock.

 A spokeswoman says some House republicans plan to pre-file legislation aimed at reversing a new HPV vaccine requirement for middle school students. Representatives Robert Nardolillo (R-Coventry) and Justin Price (R-Hopkinton, Exeter, Richmond) have spoken against the new requirement.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy, some Rhode Island residents are still dealing with the aftermath. And it’s not just damage to buildings and property. These Rhode Islanders are struggling with mental illness related to stress. 

Screen shot / Rhode Island Department of Health

The state health department has launched an online survey for Rhode Islanders to rank their health care experiences. The results will be used as part of an effort to bring down costs and boost quality. They’ll also help officials decide whether new healthcare facilities and services are needed.

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