rhode island department of health

Immunization Action Coalition

Protestors are asking the state health department to abolish the requirement that all seventh graders receive the HPV vaccine, which can prevent cervical and other kinds of cancers. Parents can request an exemption. But the groups say they’re still opposed to the mandate. The health department has added additional community meeting dates to respond to public concerns.

US Marine Corps / via Wikimedia Commons

The rising number of overdose deaths has strained the resources of the state’s only medical examiner’s office. Limited staffing and a growing number of requests have slowed down investigations – and threaten the office’s accreditation.

State health officials say bacterial meningitis did not take the life of a 13-month-old Tuesday, as previously suspected. Instead, the cause of death was a rare complication from a very common infection.

Health officials say a 13-month-old Rhode Islander died Tuesday from a rare complication of Group A Streptococcus – the same bacteria that causes strep throat.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island is facing a litany of serious health issues – from a rising number of overdose deaths to a spike in sexually transmitted infections. It’s up to the new director of the state’s health department, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, to address those epidemics and more. Scott is an infectious disease doctor who has spent the past few years consulting with the Department of Health. We recently sat down with her to learn more about how she’s approaching her new role.

Rhode Island Department of Health

More than half of Native American children in Rhode Island live in poverty. The infant mortality rate for blacks is twice that of whites in Rhode Island.

grifo via Creative Commons License

The Rhode Island Department of Health did a comprehensive analysis to figure out which drinking water sources are most vulnerable to climate change to help water suppliers plan for the future. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza sat down with the June Swallow, chief of the Office of Drinking Water Quality at the state health department. She oversees the project called SafeWater Rhode Island

AAPCC

This week, officials from the state's health and human services agency are testifying at the Statehouse about proposed budgets for their departments. Some of the potential budget cuts, they say, seem manageable, but others they're hoping might be reversed or reduced.

Take Rhode Island’s poison control center, for example.

Rhode Island shares a poison control center with Massachusetts. It’s a toll-free number plus a staff of experts who can provide medical advice for people who suspect poisoning.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Natural disasters and extreme weather events cause great physical damage, but they can also take a toll on mental health. That’s the topic the state Department of Health and the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council will explore this week at workshops they are co-sponsoring.

The workshops are tailored for mental health practitioners, health department employees, and the general public.

Rhode Island Department of Health

Dr. Michael Fine has led the state’s department of health since 2001. Friday marks his last day at the agency. 

He came to our studios this week to look back on his accomplishments, and offer some advice to his successor, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. Fine told us that, as he leaves office, Rhode Islanders are not as healthy as they could be. But despite the challenges people face, there’s progress to be proud of.

  

Office of Gov. Gina Raimondo

Gov. Gina Raimondo has nominated a new leader for the state Dept. of Health.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott is currently Consultant Medical Director for the state health department’s division of infectious diseases, focusing on HIV and AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other infections. She’s a board-certified specialist in infectious disease in both children and adults. Alexander-Scott is also on the faculty of Brown University’s medical school. She studied medicine at the State University of New York Upstate Medical School and received a Masters in Public Health from Brown.

James Volk / CDC

Three strains of meningococcal bacteria - the critters that can cause meningitis - circulate and cause disease in the U.S. Until recently, we only had vaccines to protect against two of them. But in October 2014, the FDA approved a new vaccine for the strain known as serogroup B; on January 23rd, the agency approved a second vaccine for serogroup B, this one requiring just two doses, rather than three.

At a public hearing yesterday at the Dept. of Health, doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses voiced their opposition to the department's proposed regulations governing the prescribing of opioids. The new rules would require prescribers to sign a fairly lengthy agreement with patients, alerting them to the risks of taking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, and agreeing to certain kinds of monitoring. Many health care providers feel these agreements aren't necessary and that, in fact, they're patronizing.

What do you think?

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials are considering new regulations governing how health care providers prescribe painkillers. So far this year, 212 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses, most involving opioids, according to the health department.

Hospitals have gotten most of the attention when it comes to Ebola preparedness. But at a recent hearing for state lawmakers, questions were raised about the readiness of community-based health care providers to deal with the threat. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials have unveiled the state’s Ebola emergency response plan. The plan spells out the steps state agencies will take to handle potential cases.

Pages